When the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2013 model year, Autobytel named it Crossover of the Year. Now, for 2014, a larger and more powerful engine joins the lineup, and Mazda expands the CX-5’s infotainment and safety offerings. Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models are available, priced from $22,190 for a Sport with a manual gearbox and no options to more than $33,000 with all the trimmings.
The Mazda CX-5 was the first of the automaker’s vehicles to get the company’s Kodo styling themes, which have since been successfully applied to the Mazda 3, the Mazda 6, and the Mazda CX-9, and clumsily executed on the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The small and smiley Mazda 2 and the swoopy and swirly Mazda 5 minivan still wear Mazda’s old Nagare styling themes.
Inside, the Mazda CX-5 features a sensible control layout and quality materials. The touchscreen infotainment system’s 5.8-inch screen is too small, but otherwise the CX-5’s interior looks and feels more expensive than the crossover SUV’s price tag might suggest.
At first, you might find the Mazda CX-5’s seats to be too firm, deciding on a whim that they cannot possibly be comfortable. That’s not the case. Over time, they provide excellent support, and a thick-rimmed and leather-wrapped steering wheel only enhances comfort. If anything, it would be nice if the front passenger’s seat offered height adjustment.
The rear seats are mounted low to the floor, too, easing entry and exit but creating a lack of thigh support. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seatback in the Touring and Grand Touring models adds extra versatility that many of the CX-5’s competitors lack.
With 34.1 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, a 2014 Mazda CX-5 is ready to tackle local and long-distance trips at a moment’s notice. To maximize room, fold the rear seatbacks down to create up to 65.4 cu.-ft. of cargo space.
One of the big changes for the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is the addition of a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the Touring and Grand Touring models, which effectively relegates the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder to the entry-level Sport model. Both engines feature fuel-saving SkyActiv technology, with the 2.0-liter engine generating 155 horsepower and the 2.5-liter engine whipping up 184 horsepower. The bigger engine also benefits from 35 extra lb.-ft. of torque over the base motor, which really helps the CX-5 to accelerate out of its own way.
The penalty to be paid for the extra power is evident in fuel economy ratings. The smaller engine in the Mazda CX-5 Sport gets 29 mpg in combined driving while the larger engine in the Touring and Grand Touring models is rated to return 27 mpg (26 mpg with all-wheel-drive). We averaged 24.3 mpg with the bigger engine and AWD.
Whether or not you decide that the 2014 Mazda CX-5 will be reliable is dependent upon which source of information you consult. Consumer Reports predicts that the CX-5 will prove better than average when it comes to reliability, while J.D. Power predicts that dependability will prove below average. The J.D. Power prediction is based, in part, on the CX-5’s unimpressive performance in its 2013 Initial Quality Study.
If there’s no agreement regarding the Mazda CX-5’s reliability expectations, you can’t argue that this isn’t a safe SUV. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the CX-5 a 5-star overall crash-test rating, and this Mazda crossover is one of those rare vehicles that gets a 5-star rating in every frontal-impact and side-impact crash-test assessment.
Ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are equally impressive, and thanks to the addition of Smart City Brake Support technology for 2014, the Mazda CX-5 is considered to be a “Top Safety Pick+” and it gets an “Advanced” rating for front crash prevention. However, and this is important, these ratings apply only to those models built after October of 2013. Mazda CX-5s built prior to November of 2013 get a “Marginal” rating for small overlap frontal-impact protection, and are not considered to be “Top Safety Pick” material.
One thing we really like about the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is that you don’t need to buy the most expensive Grand Touring model to get practical and useful safety features. New for 2014, E911 services are optional for the Sport and standard for the Touring and Grand Touring, installing a system that provides automatic crash notification when the SUV’s airbags deploy. Additionally, the Touring model includes rain-sensing wipers and a Blind Spot Monitoring system, and both the Touring and Grand Touring can be optioned with Smart City Brake Support and an adaptive front lighting system.
In addition to the Mazda CX-5’s safety systems, this compact crossover can be equipped with leather seats, a premium audio system, a navigation system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power sunroof, a reversing camera, and a Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System with push-button starting.
Standard for the Touring and Grand Touring models, and offered as an option for the Sport model, the 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes Bluetooth connectivity with music streaming, E911 service, Pandora Internet radio, HD Radio, and text-messaging capability. Navigation and a 9-speaker Bose premium audio system are upgrades offered for the Touring and Grand Touring models.
The 2014 Mazda CX-5 competes in the hotly contested compact crossover SUV segment. It vies for your affections against the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue and Rogue Select, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Subaru Forester, Subaru XV Crosstrek, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Stylish and safe, affordable and practical, fuel-efficient and fun to drive, the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is one of the best small crossover SUVs you can buy.
Mazda provided the CX-5 models for this photo gallery
2014 Mazda CX-5 photos by Christian Wardlaw