In 2017 I had just purchased my Infiniti Q50 to take over daily driver duties from my old faithful Nissan Pathfinder. It was the nicest and newest car I had ever purchased solely for myself to use. We had always kept my wife in the nicest car, as I was worried about her always having reliable transportation. At the time she had a 2014 Kia Sorento that had been serving us well for 5 years and over 90,000 miles. Fast forward two weeks after purchasing my Q50 and I managed to have an accident in the Sorento while driving it one of the rare times I did. Our insurance company ended up totaling it, which was a huge disappointment as it was nearly paid off and my wife really loved her Kia.
So we began searching for a new vehicle for her. I decided to call the salesman at the dealership I purchased the Q50 from to see what they had on the lot. We stopped by and test drove a couple of vehicles, but we ran across a very nice 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD that they had just gotten in and it had been meticulously cared for, along with a recent expensive trip through their service department for a long list of services, new tires, and new brakes. The only drawback was that it was a little smaller than we were looking for, but otherwise it fit the bill and it was well under our price range, so after driving it we decided to purchase it.
My wife was commuting 80-100 miles 5 days a week at the time and still commutes about 70 miles a day now, so we needed something reliable. I have been a Nissan/Infiniti loyalist for years, but I am not shy to share that I think most newer Nissan vehicles are complete piles of junk. Mazda is another brand I respect a lot though and I have been treated pretty well by them over the years. We still chose to purchase an extended warranty on it, because I had no experience with the CX-5 or the 2.5L SkyActiv engine, although I had heard great things.
Little did I know that this little SUV would be the best money we’ve ever spent. I’m not a fan of crossover SUV’s at all, but the CX-5 is worth a look if you’re shopping for one. It’s a very good looking vehicle, thanks to Mazda’s Kodo Design Language. It looks a lot more expensive than it actually is, along with offering a lot of features in the Grand Touring model you wouldn’t expect – such as HID Bi-Xenon headlights with self leveling and Adaptive Front Lighting System, which aims the headlights in whatever direction your steering wheel is pointed. In addition to that it has Stability Control, Forward Collision Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and a Bose Centerpoint 9 Speaker Sound System.
After spending some time behind the wheel of it, I was very shocked when I took it on it’s first spirited drive through some backroads locally that it handles itself extremely well. Not only does it handle corners as well as my Infiniti Q50, but the drivetrain makes use of it’s power very well. The 6-speed automatic seems to always be in the right gear, without even being in manual mode and downshifts with very little throttle input, so you can make use of momentum without having to over stress the engine when unnecessary. The 2.5L 4 cylinder engine only outputs 184hp, but it is surprisingly peppy for a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder and handles itself very well. The only time it feels like its lacking is while driving on the highway, where it can overtake a vehicle fine, but don’t expect to aggressively overtake someone. Also something to note on this year model is there is no “selectable” sport mode. Sport mode is activated by a switch under the accelerator pedal when fully depressed. It feels really odd the first time you use it. It almost feels like you’re breaking something, but once your get used to it, you’ll get less put off by it.
This model is also AWD(All Wheel Drive) which is a little underwhelming, but it does its job just fine. We live in the Southeast, so we don’t see a ton of bad winter weather but it handles the snow and ice just fine. My wife hasn’t ever felt unsafe or complained about how it has driven in the snow. I personally don’t like the fact that it doesn’t has any type of center lock differential or limited slip. It’s also front wheel drive biased, which is to be expected since it’s based upon a front wheel drive but it’s obvious that the front wheels pull a lot stronger. You can even feel them start to break traction under the right conditions. This isn’t a WRX or an EVO though, so i’ll let the mediocre AWD system slide.
The major drawback for us is the lack of cargo space. We’ve traveled on short trips in it a couple of times and it’s really cramped with the four of us in it along with luggage. With no roof rack, or any option for extra storage we have started to just avoid using it for travel. The cabin space is fairly good though for daily use and even for a tall guy like myself, I don’t ever feel cramped if all four of us are in it and using it around town. The This was the only thing I found that the Nissan Rogue did MUCH better. The Rogue had a lot more cargo space and very well thought out storage for an SUV its size. Since it’s primarily a commuter car for my wife, it’s something we can live with though.
Another major drawback for us that I never realized would be so important have been the cup holders of all things. They are HORRIBLE. Have two large drinks? Not going to work. Have a large tumbler or a water bottle? Nope. Either they don’t fit or they hit each other making it hard to get the one you need out. I found a solution for this on Amazon thankfully that has helped. It’s a wedge style cup holder that goes between the seat and center console. It was around $20 and works very well for almost anything you need to put in it.
Then there’s the infotainment system. A lot of automakers struggled with making decent infotainment systems at this time, so it’s understandable but it’s still frustrating none the less. It’s very laggy at times and randomly has difficulty connecting to our iPhones. It’s not bad enough to replace the head unit altogether, but it can still be a major annoyance at times. The Bose Centerpoint system is fantastic though and sounds excellent. Once the head unit is connected and working properly, it’s a great system to enjoy music on. The TomTom Navigation on this head unit is also a bit underwhelming too. We both tend to use our phones for navigation instead. From what i’ve seen, Mazda replaced this infotainment system in 2016 with a better model so these issues may not exist in models newer than 2015.
The most important thing here though is the reliability. With just over two years of owning it and over 50,000 miles logged there is nothing negative to report mechanically other than the warranty we purchased was an absolute waste of money. With over 105,000 miles on the clock currently it has asked for nothing more than routine maintenance and we’ve had to replace the front brakes once. I would not hesitate one bit to drive it across the country tomorrow and it has treated us extremely well. My wife was commuting 80-100 miles 5 days a week and still commutes about 70 miles daily now and it has taken her to work in any weather, any condition, and does it reliably every single time. It is as highly regarded in our household and to our friends and family as my Pathfinder is(which is saying a lot).
So in summary, if you’re looking for a small SUV to commute in and maybe take the occasional trip in I cannot recommend the CX-5 enough. The Mazda brand in general is an excellent brand to consider overall. They make really nice vehicles that give you a great bang for your buck and don’t look out of place sitting next to an Infiniti, Lexus, of Acura one bit. Whether you’re an enthusiast or just a regular consumer looking for a reliable vehicle, take a look at a Mazda before settling for something else – you won’t regret it.