Over the course of a year, I review many vehicles using my own sense on what consumers will want from the vehicle. However, a few recent events lead me to do something completely different. I let my wife drive my press-loan 2017 Mazda CX-5 (with Mazda’s approval) for a week. Here are her thoughts.
Before we get to her thoughts, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is a mid-size SUV with two-rows and is the small model below the three-row Mazda CX-9. Our test model came fully loaded with the Grand Touring package with a Soul Red Crystal Metallic exterior and a parchment white interior. It was priced at $34,380 with a $940 delivery, processing and handling fee. The SUV arrived on a Tuesday while she was at work. I parked it and gave her the keys when she got home.
She was nervous at first. From the outside, the interior looks small. There won’t be enough for her work bags, the kids will fight over elbow room and it will be a tight fit.
“When you look in, it was tiny,” she said.
While the interior gave her pause, the exterior design had the opposite effect.
“I don’t know what you guys call it, but that front-end is sexy,” she said. “It is a really great looking car. I like that.
Curiosity spiked, she immediately made up a reason to head to the store. Parking her 17-year-old Honda CR-V, she climbed behind the wheel of the CX-5 and took it for her first spin to the store in the dark evening light.
“I really liked the LED lights since it was at night,” she said. “It really lit up the road in front of me.
Everything on the center console was easy to find. All the stuff you normally struggle with a new car was easy to find especially the heated seats and heated steering wheel buttons. Those were my favorites.
What was cool and caught me off-guard was the heads-up display. This display was more prominent with the night-time light especially the stop-sign icon. When I first saw it, I was shocked it showed up and then I wanted to see if it appeared again at the next stop.“
“Another thing the heads-up display helped with me was my controlling speed,” she says while smiling. “I had to set the cruise control a lot!”
The SUV is actually quite a bit quicker than her older Honda. While the Honda’s 2.0L four-cylinder engine was a good workhorse, engine technology has come a long way. For example, the 2.5L four-cylinder “SKYACTIV” engine found in the CX-5 produces 187 HP and 185 lb-ft. of torque. This is a considerable jump from the 146 HP on the old Honda engine and is offset some by about a 300 pound increase for the Mazda.
Fuel economy is also better than the Honda. Our AWD model was rated at 23/30/26 city/highway/combined which she hit the mark while she had it.
“The good fuel economy was a big selling point for me as well as the AWD capability,” she said.
However, Mazda is known for its driving performance as my wife found out.
Coming off a stop sign with myself and the kids in the car, she floored it and a big smile emerged.
“What is that?” she said.
“That’s Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine,” I replied.
“I LIKE THAT!” she said while giggling.
Overall, she felt it was really smooth and easy to drive with her only concern being how many speeding tickets she would get.
“I had to use cruise control a lot,” she said. “That wasn’t even with Sport mode engaged! I only used this mode twice and loved it each time.”
Fun to drive and sexy looking, the only remaining concern on the 2017 Mazda CX-5 was the interior. She spends a lot of time in her car and carries around a lot of work bags with her job plus the trunk space was a concern.
“The driver’s seat was really comfortable and I liked how adjustable it was,” she said. “It didn’t put any stress on my legs and it didn’t feel like I was getting into a low car.
Also, the keyless start and entry/exit was really nice as well. I never had to go searching for my keys and made it a lot more convenient to drive.
There were also lots of little cubbies for different things. The kids even had their own armrest with their own USB charge ports so they didn’t have to use the front ones. It would have been nice for them to have a little bit more room for our 8 and 5 year old, but they did just fine.
While our kids did fine, I do have some concerns about families with car seats. Booster seats should be fine, but large car seats will make the rear tight.
The only thing for me it was really missing was space for my purse. I had to put everything on the passenger seat. As someone who gets in and out of their car frequently, this became a big hassle. It would be nice for the center console to move back some and give some room to put my bag on the floor.
The trunk space was surprisingly large in use and went on forever. I never was able to fill it. It turns out it was very deceptive from the outside. My only recommendation for designers would be to take some of the trunk space and add it to the second-row.”
Also, the features in the Grand Touring level were a big hit especially with the price.
“Love the trim level and all the bell and whistles,” she said. “I was really surprised by all the features and the price. It wasn’t too unreasonable and I expected it to be a lot more expensive of a vehicle like one starting in the 40,000s, not $34k.
Finally, the color and the comments poured in from others. Even our color-blind uncle loved the color! LOL. Everywhere I went people were commenting on the color and the looks.”
On the day they came to pick it up, there was definitely a sense of sadness. While she is continuing to look for a new SUV, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 went from unknown to a top contender. And, for a picky car buyer like my wife, that is the best praise we can really give it.