ROAD TEST: 2014 Mazda CX-5

Updated Mazda CX-5 gets more performance, safety and technology.

Published: April 15, 2013, 4:00 AM
Updated: May 6, 2018, 11:32 AM

2014 Mazda CX-5 - side 3/4 view

Power is a good thing, and more power is even better.

The already-impressive Mazda CX-5 is thus improved with more power.

That, in a nutshell is the news regarding the 2014 Mazda CX-5. In addition to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine offered during its introductory year, the CX-5 now gets a bigger, more powerful four-cylinder engine enhancing its ability to go toe-to-toe in one of the toughest and fastest growing segment of the industry.

Mazda has also used the occasion to introduce a raft of new technologies it’s been working on for the past few years.

Production ramped up to meet demand

2014 Mazda CX-5 - engine bay

Since its introduction to the market early in 2012, the CX-5 has been a major success for the brand. It now accounts for 15 percent of Mazda’s Canadian sales, making it the second best-seller behind the Mazda3. Production has been increased three times in order to keep up with demand.

To continue that trend Mazda has updated the CX-5 less than a year after its introduction with some significant additions on the performance and safety fronts.

The CX-5 GX trim level continues to use the 2.0-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder engine with its 155-horsepower and 150-lb.ft. of torque. For 2014 the key components of the SkyActiv engine technology – 13:1 compression ratio and related innovations to piston and compression chamber design and complex 4-2-1 exhaust system – have been applied to a 2.5-litre version of the engine which becomes standard equipment in GS and GT models of the CX-5.

The 25 percent hike in displacement has resulted in 19 percent more torque and 23 percent more horsepower. 

The 2.0-litre engine, combined with the SkyActiv six-speed automatic transmission carries fuel economy ratings of 7.7 litres/100 km in the city and 6.1 L/100km on the highway. The additional 23 percent increase in power of the larger engine has come at a fuel mileage cost of only eight percent in the city and two percent on the highway. The fully-loaded GT model with all-wheel-drive and automatic transmission is rated at 8.5 city and 6.6 highway.

Last year’s prices carried over

2014 Mazda CX-5 - steering wheel and instrument panel

The CX-5 comes in GX, GS and GT trim levels, all at the same price as the 2013 versions. The CX-5 comes in front and all-wheel drive. The base GX model gets the smaller engine and FWD. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic available, as is Mazda’s Active Torque Split All-wheel-drive system.

GS and GT trim levels come with the new engine and the automatic transmission. The GS comes in FWD and AWD configurations while the line-topping GT is all wheel-drive only.

Power without sacrifice

2014 Mazda CX-5 - front seats

Mazda says the 2.5-litre engine provides the performance to compete with turbocharged competition without the attendant sacrifice in fuel economy, claiming that even with the bigger engine the CX-5 remains one of, if not the most fuel efficient vehicles in the class.

To ensure the CX-5 retains a theoretical 900-km range on a tank of fuel, the GS and GT models have a slightly larger fuel tank (58 vs. 56 litres).

In addition to the larger engine, the new CX-5 gets Mazda’s new Smart City Brake System (SCBS). Available as part of a Technology Package on GT trim level models, the system has been developed to help prevent head-on collisions at low speeds (5-30 km/h).

A laser sensor positioned behind the rear view mirror monitors possible threats (hard objects) and closing speeds, putting the brake pads in closer proximity to the rotors in anticipation of their use when necessary; if the driver fails to take action, the system will automatically apply the brakes bringing the vehicle to a halt.

Otherwise the CX-5 is relatively unchanged after its first 12 months on the market. It retains the stand-apart looks and class-leading driving dynamics. Mazda has changed the colour palette with new shades of red, black and gray. The Soul Red Mica applied to the test vehicle is stunning, with no hint of orange to detract from the effect.

Advanced engineering

2014 Maxda CX-5 - rear seat

The CX-5 is the first Mazda to display the full array of Mazda’s SkyActiv technologies, involving advanced engineering in everything from engines and transmissions to chassis and suspension. The result is light weight, exceptional fuel economy, good power and retention of the driving dynamics that are a key element in Mazda’s DNA. 

The SkyActiv engine is noisier than most at idle, partially because of the high pressure direct injection system, but also because of the complex exhaust system that plays a vital role in squeezing out such impressive fuel mileage. Once underway, the engine becomes a silent and strong partner and the added power is definitely noticeable and appreciated, especially when carrying passengers and/or climbing hills.

The suspension, tuned to European rather than American driving styles, combined with a quick steering ratio provides a level of driver feedback and enjoyment not usually associated with tall and small CUVs like this. If you didn’t look in the mirror and ignored the fact you are further off the ground, you would think this was sports sedan.

Base model well equipped

2014 Mazda CX-5 -cargo area with seatbacks folded

The base FWD GS with manual transmission comes with heated power mirrors, power windows and locks, tilt/telescope steering wheel with cruise control and secondary audio controls, hill-hold assist, audio system with USB input, air conditioning, remote keyless entry and push button start. 

The fully loaded test vehicle had everything from a navigation system with a 15-cm colour screen and auto-levelling bi-xenon headlights with an adaptive system that turns them slightly in concert with the steering wheel, to a well-bolstered eight-way powered and heated driver’s seat.

A blind spot monitoring system takes the worry out of reversing from a parking space by watching for and warning of vehicles you can’t see, coming from either side. Leather upholstery, a power moon roof, nine-speaker BOSE audio system, satellite radio and dual-zone climate control completed the picture.

With an additional dose of power, this good-looking CUV offers a combination of fuel economy and driving dynamics not available elsewhere in the class.