Car companies are doing a good job these days of combining safety, technology, and style. This was how I felt after driving the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring crossover for a week.
When I took delivery, the first thing I noticed was the sharp 19″ wheels, the aggressive front grille, and the dynamic ‘Blue Reflex Mica’ paint job. Mazda has developed its own KODO design language. I’m not sure what KODO stands for, but after reading the KODO design philosophy, what stands out the most after driving the CX-5 is the attention to the front-end. I like the bold placement of the big Mazda emblem, engulfed by the upper grille that sucks in air to cool down the engine.
Another KODO design element that I appreciated was the overall forward-leaning stance that gives the CX-5 its aggressive look. The upper rear spoiler combined with the dual exhaust really completed the design. I have test-driven several vehicles, and I must say that the CX-5 with the Grand Touring trim got the most looks and sparked the most conversations from random people. So it sounds as if Mazda is on to something.
The Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring employs what it calls ‘SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY’ that essentially fine tunes the engine, transmission and chassis to provide an enhanced driving experience. My CX-5 also included the SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission that adds a ‘Sport Mode’ that drivers can toggle for more “advanced” driving. Basically, the transmission climbs to higher RPMs before shifting to another gear.
Even with the ‘Sport Mode’ activated, I could still feel the lack of power coming from the 2.5 liter 184 horsepower, four-cylinder engine when accelerating while going 35 mph and above. There isn’t too much you can do with 184 horsepower unless you slap a turbo in there. Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad at Mazda one bit if they offered a “SKYACTIV-TURBO” option…Just Sayin’
For a crossover, the CX-5 Grand Touring suspension was pretty responsive. Also, and road noise was kept to a minimum, making for an overall pleasant driving experience.
This isn’t my first time testing the new Mazda line-up. So I was used to the MAZDA CONNECT Infotainment system that seamlessly integrates with my iPhone via Bluetooth to make/receive hands-free calls, listen to my playlists, and connect to Internet radio, SiriusXM, and podcast apps. The CX-5 does include a larger 7-inch Infotainment touch screen sits pretty high in the dashboard that lets drivers interact with the screen while keeping an eye on the road.
What I wasn’t used to was Mazda’s multi-function command control situated below shift knob that puts all of the Infotainment controls right at your fingertips making it easier and safer to operate while driving. When I first started test driving the new Mazda line with this setup, I mostly ignored it and opted for interacting with the touchscreen display.
This time, I decided to give the multi-function command controls a try. After solely using the multi-function command controls on a couple of drives, I didn’t have to touch the screen to mute the audio, change audio inputs, select FM/SiriusXM stations, select music from my iPhone, or any other media functions.
After a while, my muscle memory kicked in and I didn’t even have to look down at the command controls to make any changes. The only time I had to touch the screen was when I was interacting with the navigation functions, which wasn’t a big deal since I wasn’t driving while trying to enter an address. I must admit, I can appreciate Mazda and its attempt to give drivers more control while allowing them to stay focused on the road.
A large chunk of the technology in the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring was wrapped up in the safety features. The i-ACTIVESENSE features consist of:
- Radar-enabled cruise control that automatically keeps a safe distance between the car in front of you. Even when you’re not using cruise control, you can opt to get audible notifications when you get too close during normal driving.
- Side blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert that keeps the driver aware of vehicles all around them
- Smart braking system that can sense an emergency ahead and helps avoid front crash collisions at high speeds
All of these and other safety features (rear-view camera, lane departure warning, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and LED daytime-running adaptive front lights that turn when you do) is what Mazda calls its “proactive safety philosophy” that essentially gives a driver piece of mind that the vehicle is doing its part to keep all passengers safe.
…Which I can appreciate, since my kids can’t wait for daddy to get a another “rental” that they can ride in. Nice to know that the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring had my back on the road.