Mazda Articles

A New Kind of Car Shopping: Mazda CX-5

01.29.14

I am not a trailblazer. I’m a listener. I remember what people say and in what context. I listened intently when I visited the Mercedes Benz Driving School and a few weeks ago Jane began lessons with them. I like their philosophy and I’ve loved what I’ve seen put into practice.

Some years ago my neighbor, who happens to be a veteran firefighter, was over and we were in car buying mode. When we asked him about buying a car he told us that in 25 years he’d never cut a dead body out of a Mercedes or a BMW. The following month we bought two new BMW’s. We’ve always looked for safety in our vehicles.

The interesting (and sad) thing is that shortly after obtaining said BMWs Mr G was T Boned by a car traveling at approximately 45 MPH who never even slowed down. The car was totaled and he was shaken and a bit sore but otherwise completely uninjured. Our insurance company was spectacular (I cannot foresee a scenario where we would leave GEICO) and a few weeks later we bought the same car all over again.

The Jaguar has been an interesting experience. I call her the cheerleader. She’s fast, she’s sexy, she’s unquestionably beautiful and sounds spectacular. She is also an idiot. Driving a Jaguar is a never-ending test of one’s patience. There are engine lights and odd sounds. It’s impossible to fill with gasoline anywhere but Costco. If the gas comes out too slowly the nozzle simply clicks off as if it’s full and when a vehicle gets 14 MPG on average you need more than 6 gallons of gas to get through a week. The navigation system often tells you that you’re in a completely different city and don’t get me started on seat belts that stick. I must confess that I love the blind spot indicators but they’re a feature left over from when Ford controlled Jaguar and everyone who knows me knows that I have a complete and utter love affair with the C-Max Energi. I don’t need the headache of a Jaguar for a little extra safety.

I am so wildly off topic right now I can’t even help myself.

Listening: friends with kids older than mine all bought cars for their kids when they got their permits. Like us they drive fast or luxurious cars (the Mercedes is not fast but it’s totally inappropriate for a teen) that are unlikely to withstand the cruel treatment of a new driver. These parents as a group suggested getting Jane her car along with her permit and having her drive as much as possible for the six months leading up to her 16th birthday. They said that every time I was in a car with her it should be her car and I should be the passenger. It makes sense if you subscribe to the 10,000 hour theory (I’ve got issues with it… but… ).

In any event Jane loves driving (apple… tree…) and she mentioned to me that if she had a choice of cars she’d like an SUV. Rather than asking my firefighter neighbor which SUVs he’s never pulled a corpse from, I (much more reasonably) checked the IIHS website for the least expensive SUV with five star crash ratings. Tossing your kid in a car makes you want to buy a zillion airbags, four tires, some accident avoidance technology and whatever vehicle happens to come with it. The Mazda CX-5 popped up and since I had absolutely loved driving the CX-7 and the CX-9 in the past and rightly assumed that the CX5 would be a pleasing vehicle. I called my friends at Mazda and asked for a loan.

mazda cx5 window sticker monroney

mazda cx5

To be perfectly fair the CX-5 they sent has the Grand Touring package so it’s easy to enjoy. Being that we live in a congested city and Jane will be set loose in no time I’d like her to have a back up camera and a good navigation system in any vehicle we get her. That means that Mazda is better than Jaguar already. The base model is $20,000 and the vehicle I drove is $30,000. Jane would be served well by having the amenities of the higher trim line but in a vehicle that’s a year or two old. There are limits to what we are able to spend, but more so there are limits to what we are willing to spend on a 15 and a half year old child (who is admittedly wonderful). Also I remember having some issues with parking when I was a kid and think that a few bumps and scrapes are to be expected.

In any event I hadn’t planned on reviewing the 2014 CX-5. This was a loan based solely on personal need. But we loved it. We loved everything about it except the 4 star rollover rating. The back seat is spacious, the dash is intuitive, the technology is stellar. I have to hand it to Mazda, my iPhone music integrated perfectly (I won’t bother taking another swipe at Jaguar… you can just imagine) as did Waze (in case we can’t find an appropriately priced vehicle with navigation).

This little SUV gets great mileage, is plenty peppy and feels large inside but is still compact enough to parallel park with ease. If we get an SUV for Jane in the next few months I’d really like for it to be a CX5. There’s a lot of convenience in an SUV and I prefer sedans. If we get this one for Jane I win. I have an SUV on hold for when I want to haul lumber (unlikely) or a pallet of shoes(more likely). Again, not much of a review, more about shopping. I’m getting excited because this summer we’ll get rid of the Jaguar too. Two cars. So much better than two sick kids. 

Review: 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring FWD

06.10.13

We took the Mazda CX-9 to Jane’s last soccer tournament. It was a few hours of driving with anywhere from two to four teenage girls, their soccer bags, their pillows, their overnight bags, their mounds of miscellaneous crapola and a bag or two of fresh food (I know, I have issues). I felt smug because the vehicle never felt too crowded and I never felt like I was driving a truck. Mazda manufactured a miracle.

With three rows of seating the CX-9 still manages to feel like more of a car than a truck. Perhaps because the CX-9 is on Ford’s CD3 platform along with a list of cars that I’ve also loved to drive: Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, Mazda 6 and more. The front wheel drive model that I drove has a modestly powered V6 engine that cranks out 273 hp with a curb weight of 4,528 lb.

While the CX-9 isn’t a performance vehicle it is sturdy and stable and accomplishes all it sets out to do. There’s room for 7 full sized people (to be fair our tallest was 5’10” and everyone was comfortable in all three rows), all our junk and the ride is smooth. I can’t explain why but I love the look of front of the vehicle. When the CX-9 was parked at the soccer tournament I sort of scanned the rows and decided that I really love the pointier front end as opposed to the boxier look on most of the other CUVs.

2013 mazda cx-9 front

As I said before the engine is modestly powered but you can overcome the slowness of this by using the ActiveMatic and geting the CX-9 a little closer to the redline. Of course when you do this you’ll be giving up on the 19 mpg fuel economy but some fun is worth having. The Mazda is not a loud car in that there’s no engine rumble or rattling bits but there is highway noise once you hit about 60mph.

The cabin design is the highlight of the CX-9. Drivers and passengers are equally courted by a comfortable cabin with an intuitive dashboard. There’s no fumbling and wondering where things are, they’re exactly where they ought to be. My vehicle was equipped with a tech package that includes Sirius radio. Pandora was also incorporated into the dash and we took advantage of that. With terrestrial radio tanking these are great options. The navigation system was a little unwieldy and unfortunately it froze on me midway through the week so I never had the opportunity to figure it out. I am not easy to please with a navigation system. My Mercedes navigation has some pretty major flaws, the Jaguar is an abomination and Acura has nearly perfected theirs. With smartphones and navigation apps an underperforming nav system shouldn’t dissuade anyone from a purchase but a great one could help seal the deal.

2013 mazda cabin

With an MSRP of $34,785 (mine was loaded at $38,115) the CX-9 is a brilliant purchase for an active family or anyone who wants the conveniences of an SUV without having to actually drive an SUV. The 2013 star safety ratings aren’t out yet but IIHS gives the 2007-2013 mostly good ratings, I feel very safe with this particular vehicle.

iihs mazda

Click here for IIHS’s full rating.

 

2013 Mazda2 Touring Review: 100 hp of Joy

04.16.13

Yes I did just say that the Mazda2 is 100 hp of joy. It’s not a typo, that little car really does run on 100 hp and I really did love driving it. They say it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than to drive a fast car slow and if you live in a city like Los Angeles where traffic can be prohibitive the Mazda2 just might be the perfect solution for your city needs.

First off, everyone loved the look of this car. It’s cute without being diminutive.

The Mazda2 manages to be subcompact and attractive while still appealing to the XY set.

2013 Mazda 2 touring

The interior of the Mazda2 isn’t particularly luxurious but it isn’t bare bones either. The dash is small because of the size and structure of the car but it’s got everything you need and it makes sense. I drive a lot of cars and the first day of a switch can be a tough one. As I had experienced with the Mazda 3 the controls are ergonomic, sensible even, and my hands just sort of knew where to go leaving my eyes on the road.

interior mazda 2

The Mazda2 is has a pretty rigid structure. You feel the road in a way that’s a bit uncommon in a Japanese import. I happen to really enjoy this type of drive and when you’re in a tiny car with very little power the feel of acceleration can be exhilarating. Speaking of exhilaration be sure to opt for the manual transmission. There’s a lot of pep in this little package and I found myself wanting to race at every green light. I wasn’t dangerously close to the red line and I was able to make this little car hop into action quickly.

mazda 2 2013 white

Please imagine me in the Mazda2 with anywhere from 2 to 4 kids and their backpacks in the car revving the engine as a light turns from red to green. The kids were basically screaming, “You’re the worst driver in the world” and I was just laughing and enjoying myself and making them listen to 80’s music because the Mazda 2 made me feel like a teenager without any of the angst.

Since it’s a hatchback the Mazda2 will carry all your gear. We had an electric guitar in there one day… that was a little cramped.

There’s the obligatory fold down seats so if you don’t have any passengers you can probably put half of everything you own in the trunk.

mazda 2 big trunk

The 2013 Mazda2 hasn’t received it’s star ratings yet from NHTSA but I absolutely will update this post when they come in. I’m impressed with some of the safety innovations and will have a separate post about Crushable brake pedals and Collapsable steering columns and why they keep you safe (particularly in smaller cars). The price point is fantastic. I drove the absolute base model and the price including delivery and $200 worth of upgraded paint was $17,285. I’m not clear on what upgrades are available but I wasn’t feeling like we were missing anything. This is a great basic car. Add to that 32 MPG combined city and highway and you’ve got a very affordable vehicle that should last you a good long time.