Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4
Power:
184 HP / 185 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time:
7.2 Seconds
Top Speed:
126 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,375
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
34.1 / 65.4 CU-FT
MPG:
25 City / 32 HWY
Back in October, we compared the relative merits of two new and very good small crossovers: the 2013 Ford Escape and 2013 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 we tested then had Mazda's 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine under its hood, and it managed to just edge out the EcoBoosted Ford despite being down by some 23 horsepower and 34 pound-feet of torque. Had it been available, the 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine that we recently had the opportunity to try out in the 2014 Mazda CX-5, it may have made that comparison even easier to call in the Japanese CUV's favor.

Clearly, if you're in the market for a reasonably sized crossover, the CX-5 should, at the very least, be on your test-drive list. The new engine offering will let buyers opt for a stronger powerplant, with 184 hp and 185 lb-ft on tap. On our second day in Austin's Hill Country – the first was spent quick-spinning the 2014 Mazda6 i Sport, you'll recall – we covered a couple of hundred miles and put the new CX-5 through its paces; here's what we turned up.

Driving Notes
  • The extra half-liter of Skyactiv displacement, resulting in 29 more horsepower and 35 more pound-feet of torque than in the 2.0-liter model, is satisfying in this new CX-5. With the larger engine, the CX-5's 0-60 time falls to about 7.2 seconds (Mazda's estimate) from just under 9 seconds in the 2.0-liter version. Those numbers are borne out in real-world feel, too, where the new CX-5 absolutely feels quicker away from a stoplight and less strained when passing slower folks at highway speeds. The 2.5 engine sounds a bit better, too – offering a mildly enthusiastic growl up around 5,000 rpm and onward.
  • Every other piece of the dynamic driving experience is more or less exactly the same with the 2.5-liter engine as it was with the smaller powerplant. Mazda only had CX-5s with the new engine on hand at our drive event in Austin, and it's possible that driving both versions, back-to-back, could reveal some mild handling differences. But with only a few months separating our last seat time in the 2.0-liter car from this drive, we feel safe saying that the more-potent CX-5 is every bit the nimble handler as its slightly lighter sibling.
  • With the added thrust and equal handling taken as read then, what exactly is the give/get situation relative to the smaller-engine CX-5? The larger-engined vehicle gains about 100 pounds, trim-for-trim. The 2.0-liter is the only 2014 CX-5 that can be had with Mazda's very good six-speed manual transmission, meanwhile, though product planners hinted that we may be seeing a 2.5L/6MT combo later in the model year. (We know from the Mazda6 that the engine and manual transmission work nicely together.) Impressively, the 2.5L CX-5 only loses one mile per gallon in the city versus the smaller displacement engine (25 versus 26 mpg), and the highway ratings stay exactly the same (32 mpg). Towing capacity stays steady at a modest 2,000-pound maximum for all CX-5 models.
  • With such stellar comparative specifications versus its 2.0-liter brother, the determining factor for opting-in to a 2.5-liter CX-5 is essentially only cost. For 2014, Mazda is only offering the 2.0-liter engine in Sport (read: base) models – both all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive flavors – while the 2.5-liter engine starts at the plusher Touring trim in both driveline configurations. That means while a true apples-to-apples comparison isn't possible, you will have to pony up about $2,000 to get into the larger mill. A front-wheel-drive CX-5 Sport 2.0 6AT starts at $22,595, while the FWD CX-5 Touring 2.5 6AT asks $24,615 (all models have identical $795 destination charges). For AWD models, the difference between the Sport and Touring is an identical $2,020 gap – MSRPs of $23,845 and $25,865, respectively.
  • Here's a little model-year 2014 trivia for future members of the CX-5 enthusiast clubs: This year sees three new colors (Soul Red, Jet Black, Meteor Gray) replacing three old colors (Zeal Red, Black Mica, Metropolitan Gray). The new red is a $300 option. Last year's blue plastic engine cover has been replaced with a black plastic engine cover. Mazda's Smart City Brake Support, which automatically brakes the vehicle in low-speed, crash-imminent maneuvers, is now standard with the Touring and Grand Touring tech pack, while the burglar alarm has been deleted from those packages. Got all of that? We'll have a quiz next week.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 107 Comments
      flychinook
      • 1 Year Ago
      And still no skyactiv in the Mazda5. Hey Mazda, your small minivan would make a hell of a lot more sense for more people if it achieved better fuel economy than a Honda Odyssey... Just saying...
        BC
        • 1 Year Ago
        @flychinook
        I'm sure it will happen as engine production is expanded. But the Mazda5 still makes sense for smaller families; a fully-optioned Grand Touring costs less than a base Odyssey LX, which gets poorer mileage on the city cycle and only manages to compare on the highway because it can run on 3 cylinders, in which state it's making less power and torque than the Mazda.
      2o6
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's the point of the 2.0, then? Nearly identical fuel economy, and better performance.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2o6
        I would say it's pointless. It was a mistake to introduce the CX5 in the US market with a 2.0, and Mazda is remedying it now.
          BC
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          The 2.5 didn't exist at the time and the CX-5 had the shortest turnover of any vehicle Mazda sells, so it can't have been too big a mistake.
          Mazdafreak
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Pointless? COMPARED TO WHAT? The CX-7? Look, this has basically the same cargo capacity as the CX-7, better looks, and gets massively better fuel mileage.
        Ducman69
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2o6
        You can always get improved performance for a greater price tag, and that is what this is. So for the math challenged, the advantage of the 2.0 is its cheaper.
      mikeybyte1
      • 1 Year Ago
      The only knock against the CX-5 - and other recent Mazdas - is the infotainment head unit and central dashboard design. Although I appreciate the simplicity, both head units look aftermarket. There is no real connection to the HVAC controls on the lower half. I have also read reviews that the higher end unit is a bit clunky to use. It's not a deal breaker for me, but it's disappointing they don't have something a bit better in this day and age. Love the rest of the design. I sat in a CX-5 recently and was amazed at how comfortable the seats were. Overall the cabin had high quality materials. I am looking forward to the upcoming diesel version, but this new 2.5 model looks to be at the top of the class now. Even at $30k fully loaded, you can get an Escape priced much higher.
        Drift Motion
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        I HATE integrated HVAC/HU setup You'll never be able to swap head units without leaving your HVAC out.
          Free Time
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Drift Motion
          Do people still swap head units these days? I thought that market died 10 years ago.
        Free Time
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Spot-on assessment. Exterior is exciting, interior just misses the mark. Place the head-unit controls next to the hvac controls and you're golden; I could even live without a screen for nav/backup cam.
      efabrom
      • 1 Year Ago
      One thing to remember is with great power comes responsibility...no lead footing and green light revenge. hahaha
      joejoe509
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love the looks of it and I'm sure it's one of the better drivers in the segment, but I think it needs just a bit more Zoom Zoom.
      alistair.dillingham
      • 1 Year Ago
      A flaky Mazda 3 wagon for over $30k? No thanks. This should cost $20k or LESS.
      luigi.tony
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anyone that buys an Escape over this is an idiot.
      Rob J
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's amazing how dumb small CUV's look when you compare them to hatchbacks/sedans. With either the 4 door or 5 door car you get better mileage, more fun drive, cheaper, faster acceleration and more space for passengers (ok, the 6 has better passenger space, the 3 doesn't really). With the CX-5 you get 2 inches of ground clearence, slightly more trunk space and AWD (for when there are wet leaves in your drive way). To me it's a simple choice so I guess I must just be a freaking Vulcan.
        Ok
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        It you tow (albeit only a light trailer) or are worried about having AWD for the snow those would be reasons. I daresay many buyers go for CUVs just because they like to be higher above the road. At least modern CUVs are now pretty fuel efficient too.
          seiyan2
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ok
          icemilkcoffee Times a' changing man. Please kick yourself in the forehead.
          Rob J
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ok
          Considering most people buy AWD vehicles with all season, that snow driving is invalid. And yes, you can tow a 1ton trailer. I'm sure buyers do that all the time...
          icemilkcoffee
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ok
          Precisely. Most women prefer SUV/CUVs because they like the high position and better visibility. If you are a man and you prefer a CUV over a wagon though, please kick yourself in the forehead.
        Gorgenapper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        For some people, the extra ground clearance means that they don't have to haul themselves out of the car (back back...obese...who knows?). They simply have to open the door and drop into space... err I mean, step down to the ground.
          Rob J
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          I'm glad people would rather spend more on a car than not be obese.
        Ducman69
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        Uhhh, its a crossover, so naturally it splits the difference between an SUV and a compact. And its has 503 liter trunk capacity and available third row seating, yeah, not going to happen in a Ford Focus. Thanks for playing though!
          Rob J
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Ducman69
          Have you seen the 3rd row in person? It's a laughable joke. Do you know what happens when you split differences? You often end up with the worst of both worlds.
        Snaisa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        I have a Tundra Crewmax, Golf 4 door, and just sealed the deal on the 2014 CX5 AWD Grand Touring right smack in the middle.
      domingorobusto
      • 1 Year Ago
      While it's certainly an improvement, it's still not enough. That is still way too slow. The diesel model can't come soon enough.
        Rob J
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        Yes, I too find the acceleration of a Ferrari Dino to be far too slow.
        Mark_H
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        0-60 in 7.2 is slow? LOL maybe they'll make a twin turbo v-8 for you. I doubt a diesel will be quicker, by the way. This engine is a nice, and sorely needed, improvement.
          domingorobusto
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mark_H
          i can't find any numbers, but the foreign reviews of the diesel all say that it's MUCH quicker than the petrol versions, especially with the high spec, 178 hp engine that America will get. I can't imagine that an engine with about the same horsepower and nearly double the torque will lose out, even given the less sporting nature of diesels in general. And in something this heavy, I imagine the greatly increased torque will pay massive dividends in acceleration numbers.
        thequebecerinfrance
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        Too slow? Its a fricking CUV. 7.2 to 0-60 is plenty fast for this kind of vehicle.
          domingorobusto
          • 1 Year Ago
          @thequebecerinfrance
          IMO, 7.2 to 60 is too slow for any passenger vehicle. My views on this are definitely skewed considering I've always driven very fast vehicles, but FOR ME, I'll never drive something that can't at least get to 60 in under 7 seconds. And i'd say that 7.2 quote is optimistic. Everywhere else I've read a review of the CX5 with the 2.5 is quoting more like 7.6-7.8 in testing.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @thequebecerinfrance
          Too slow?! You are out of your mind. My damn daily driver will pull a mid 13 second 1/4 mile and I still don't think this is too slow at all. This is far faster than the diesel model.
        LinuxAddict
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        Were you planning for drag with this cuv? Tell me who else faster in this segment.
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          @LinuxAddict
          @ domingorobusto The new RAV4 no longer has a V6 option.
          Ross
          • 1 Year Ago
          @LinuxAddict
          Forester 2.0 turbo by a whole second.
        Mazdafreak
        • 1 Year Ago
        @domingorobusto
        For the record, I learned to drive on a '93 VW Eurovan (5 speed manual) and that thing was SLOW. I'm not joking. I seriously get my doors blown off by a Prius at every stop light drag race. But it doesn't feel that slow (although I think that is mostly the manual). And you are probably talking a 0-60 time of at least 15 secs.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      The concept was beautiful, the real world appearance of the vehicle is sorta bland.
        Gorgenapper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        Red is not a good color for the CX-5 - it gets blended over with the red tail lights. Try grey or white. There is a white CX-5 in the parking lot of my work, and it looks damn good.
          Ducman69
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          So that was YOU that put that flesh light insert into the CX-5's exhaust pipe... you sick bastard.
          Gorgenapper
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          I deny everything!
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        Compared to all the other sorta bland CUVs in the same segment, this car is a standout.
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        You speak the truth while the fanboys downvote you. Even other editors(including some from AB I recall), agree the Escape is the one with looks. This vehicle is bland, as are all Mazdas and Japanese cars. That is one area American brands have always shined in...
      Griffen427
      • 1 Year Ago
      WHERE'S THE DIESEL?!?!?!?!??!?!?!
        krische
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Griffen427
        Agreed. Either this in diesel or a VW Tiguan TDI. Just someone release a diesel CUV here in the US!
      Schwy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Can't wait for the same engine in the next 3!
        Mikeman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Schwy
        My thoughts exactly! 38mpg in the 6...so, 40mpg in the next generation 3?? With a 2800lb curb weight? Finally, a worthy successor to my 2008 3s...
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