2018 Mazda CX-5 Review

2018 Mazda CX-5 - The 2018 Mazda CX-5 adds enticing features


Prices: $24,150-$30,945

If you're shopping for an SUV with limited resources, you may as well buy one that's sporty and fun to drive. That's where the 2018 Mazda CX-5 comes in.

The CX-5 is Mazda's top-selling vehicle in the United States, partly because most Mazda buyers are opting for SUVs and crossover vehicles instead of cars, such as the sporty Mazda 3 or Mazda6.

All Mazdas have a spirited, Euro-style personality. The handsome CX-5 has precise, nicely weighted steering and sharp handling, helped by Mazda's all-independent suspension, V-Vectoring Control vehicle dynamic enhancement and traction and stability controls.

Braking is reassuring, with good pedal control. The ride is absorbent, although some freeway expansion strips can be felt.

Roadability is quite good for a fairly nicely sized large SUV. Call it a crossover if you like because it's very car-like. A little extra effort is needed to get into the CX-5's somewhat high floor. But all door open wide for easy entry and exit and to facilitate installing rear child seats.

Visibility is good once inside the comfortable, supportive seats. The generally upscale interior, especially with the higher -line models, has gauges that can be quickly read. A good touch is dashboard controls that back up a dashboard touch screen.

The CX-5 comes as the Sport, mid-range Touring and top-line Grand Touring with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). List prices for the front-drive versions go from $24,150 to $29,645. The AWD models start at $25,450 and go to $30,945.

The Touring has standard heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, but you can get optional heated front and rear seats. The CX-5 is billed as a five-passenger vehicle, but the stiff center of the backseat is best left to the large fold-down armrest with its twin cupholders. Also, a rear passenger with long legs will want more legroom behind a tall driver who shoves his seat all the way back.   

The cargo area is large, with a low, wide opening, and rear seat backs flip forward and sit flat to enlarge the cargo area. A quick-acting power lift gate is standard for the Grand Touring.

All CX-5s have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It works with a responsive six-speed automatic transmission with an easily used manual-shift feature.

Acceleration of my option-loaded Grand Touring CX-5 AWD model was lively in town. Freeway acceleration from 65-75 m.p.h. was brisk, but slowed above 75 m.p.h. Figure on a 0-60 m.p.h. time of 8.2 seconds with front-drive and 9.7 seconds with AWD. A "sport" driving mode, with its higher engine revs, is too aggressive for comfortable street driving.

The 3,562-3,693 pound CX-5 has new cylinder deactivation technology that can reduce fuel consumption by shutting down the two outside cylinders. This feature makes Mazda the only automaker to offer this technology on a four-cylinder-engine in North America. Every little bit helps if you fill up a lot.

Estimated fuel economy is 25 city and 31 highway for the front-drive version and nearly identical at 24 and 30 for the AWD model. Only 87-octane fuel is required.

Newly standard for 2018 are a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and a thick telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel. Radar cruise control with stop-go function and Smart Brake Support are for the Touring and Grand Touring trim levels, along with 19-inch alloy wheels for those two. There's also a power glass sunroof for the Grand Touring and a Bose 10-speaker sound surround system with voice command and an infotainment system with a 7-inch full color touchscreen that takes some getting used to. A six-way power front passenger seat is standard for the Grand Touring.

As with many new vehicles, there are so many CX-5 options and standard features available for certain models that it's best that some homework is done before a Mazda showroom is visited.

Be prepared to hold the CX-5's very heavy hood open with a prop rod if you want to check the engine oil level. Mazda should have at least given the top-line Grand Touring a hydraulic strut instead of the rod. Many Mazda owners like cars and occasionally check under the hood.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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