Saturday Road Test – 2018 Mazda CX-5 – A Crossover for the Lady in Red

                         

 

                       2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

   By Ron Amadon

 DAMASCUS, MD. – Mazda makes a big deal out of the color of this weekend’s test vehicle, an eye catching “Soul Red Crystal Metallic” because “deep inside our subconscious, red symbolizes passion, aggressiveness and importance…”

 It certainly is an attractive color that is applied in a three-step process and features “extremely thin aluminum flake all made to a uniform size.”

 And if red worked so well for Ferrari over the years, why not for Mazda when applied to one of the most fun to drive crossover/SUV’s that you can find on the market?

 The public is catching on. In January, the CX-5 recorded its 10th consecutive record sales month and remained Mazda’s top seller in the U.S.  

 Right from the start, it earned some of my gold stars for its comfortable seats, and enough adjustments that the “just right” driving position was achieved in less than a minute. Can’t say that about many vehicles.

 Interior fit, finish, and materials were all first class, and there was an abundance of features on this top-of-the-line model, such as a head-up display, heated front and rear seats, and heated steering wheel.

 Not to forget the power rear liftgate, power sliding glass sunroof, leather trimmed seats, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, 6-way adjustable passenger seat, Bose 10-speaker sound system, Navi, plus driver’s seat memory among other welcome items.

 A big old chrome knob on the center console commands the infotainment screen, and it is something one can master in a short period.

 To the rear was a slightly smaller cargo capacity than rival Honda CR-V, 30.9 cubic feet of storage with the seats in place, and almost 60 cubes with them folded. 

 A very quiet interior out on the interstates allowed full occupant appreciation of the superb Bose sound system and its 10 speakers. Even wide open, the sunroof did not generate much wind noise. (The fact that I could drive with it open in mid-February gives you some idea of how our Maryland winter has unfolded.)

 So what makes it go?

 A 2.5-liter four with 187 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186-lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm matched to a six-speed automatic transmission that was quick to respond to driver input. It is satisfied with 87 octane, and is EPA rated at  24/30/26 mpg. I registered 26.

 New cylinder-deactivation technology, Mazda said, can reduce fuel consumption by shutting down the two outside cylinders when not needed. A diesel is said to be in the works.

 Acceleration was quick enough to ease one’s way on to a busy interstate and more than enough to put slow moving 18-wheelers in the rear view mirror up my favorite mountain pass. Excellent handling beyond what one might expect in a crossover, matched with that eager engine and transmission, made twisting back roads fun.

 The Grand Touring rode on 19 inch wheels and P225/55R rubber.

 OF course there was a plentiful list of safety equipment and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2017 gave the CX-5 its highest rating, Top Safety Pick+.

 Prices start at $24,150 for an entry level model with the base price of the Grand Touring at $30,945 with All-Wheel Drive, and $29,645 with FWD.

 In glorious red or any other color, the CX-5 is the best choice for someone, and there are thousands of them, who is looking for a midsized crossover.

 Factoid:

 The CX-5 recently received a “Recommended” rating from Consumer Reports.

 

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