A New Kind of Car Shopping: Mazda CX-5


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. 

I Never Lock My Car Door


Mr. G locks the Jaguar every single time he gets out of it and it makes me crazy. If I leave something in his car I have to hunt down a car key, unlock the car, grab my crap and then lock the car again. If I leave something in my car I walk outside, grab it and I’m done. I also leave my car unlocked for a more practical reason. If someone wants to steal something at least they won’t break the window.

Well, the other night Alexander went out to my car to grab his tennis racquet and locked it.

The other morning I woke up to this.

It’s a little tough to see but it looks like they went after the window with a crowbar. The kicker is that when I went to look in my car all the doors were still locked. The only things worth stealing were Pokemon cards.

I’m in an interesting situation though. I just switched my car to Nationwide and Mr. G’s car is still insured with Geico. It’s a long and boring story but we now have Nationwide for homeowner’s insurance and I still need to move his car to the policy to get all the discounts but I’ve dragged my feet a little because when we’ve had losses (and we had a brand new 5 series BMW totaled) with Geico they were extremely good to us. So I guess this will act a test of sorts to see if we want to bring all our policies over to Nationwide.

Insurance is tricky, you want to pay less but you don’t want to get paid less. Here’s hoping it works out okay.


Car Shopping


I need two new cars this springtime. Car shopping here is always a big deal. We have high standards, and our high standards do not necessarily overlap.

My husband demands performance from his cars. He wants his car to be fast, to handle well and to be safe. He’s on his second 5 series BMW, oh gosh, or maybe it’s his third.

About three years ago my name came up on “the list” and I had a 10am Monday appointment to pick up my spiffy new Prius. I was very excited to get my new car, until 8.10 am when my telephone rang.

“Honey, I need you to come get me. I’ve been in a car accident and I think my car is totaled.” It was my husband, and he did not sound okay.

Although he wasn’t hurt, he was visibly shaken. My husband had pulled into the intersection on a green to turn left and a woman had blown through a red light without even slowing down. Her Honda Civic hit our BMW 5 series sedan at more than 40 miles per an hour. The impact was mostly on our front left wheel, and the car did not look totaled to me, the outside observer. In fact, I thought my husband was being overly dramatic, until I saw her car. All the airbags had deployed, the rear floor mats were on the dashboard and the car was an absolute accordion. There was no doubt this was a big impact.

My husband was shaken, but didn’t have so much as a stiff neck.

I never did get the Prius. We went out and got two BMW’s because we feel so safe in them. They’re heavy cars ,and they are consistently well designed. Our neighbor is a firefighter, and just after the accident he told us, “I’ve never cut a dead body out of a Mercedes or a BMW.” Quite an endorsement, no? I know, it makes me shiver too.

After a month the car was written off as a total loss, and let me tell you why I’ve been so loyal to BMW and to GEICO. We got a check for $7,500 when all was said and done. Yes, we got a check. With other car companies you buy gap insurance, GEICO gave us money for a no injury accident because the car was valued at more than what remained on the lease. It’s the only time I’ve had a meaningful claim, and the level of service we got was amazing. I don’t’ shop my car insurance, and I’d really recommend you give GEICO a try too.

Now, back to the cars. We want good safe cars. We want airbags and support beams, but we also want speed and luxury.

Oh, and I demand good service. I don’t want to be called “honey” or “sweetheart” those days are over. I’m too old and too cranky to be treated poorly. I also won’t buy a car from anyone who thinks I should ask my husband. It’s a joint checking account.

Here’s what I’ve driven so far, and a few notes about what the car combo would be.

Porsche Panamera: stunning in performance and design. It’s a rocketship, and though it’s basically a quiet ride, you can still feel the engine growl. The purists don’t love the design, I do. If you can swing it, the yachting trim is exceptional with wood inlay that reminds me of the Bentleys of my childhood. As a Mom car the Panamera both fails and succeeds, the engine shuts off when you’re stuck in traffic, so carpool would be great, unfortunately it only seats four, so this would be a great car for my husband.

Honda Accord V6: I drove this car yesterday. It stunned me. If my husband wants the Porsche (let’s be frank, I want him to want the Porsche) I’ll happily drive the Accord. It’s sturdy enough, not particularly fast, not particularly slow. The back seat and the trunk are huge and the price tag is tiny. I have to investigate the safety ratings, and ask them why they have a six CD changer instead of an iPod dock… but other than being slightly archaic with technology it’s a good car at a good price.

Audi: I drove the A5 sport convertible. It was fast and nice, but again, seats only 4, so we’re limited to this as a choice for my husband. The car seems feminine to me, and I’m not sure why. I drove the A6, it’s nice, but it didn’t blow me away. I feel like our 3 year old BMW is faster than the brand new Audi. Maybe it’s just the styling, I’m not sure, I will drive it again.

BMW: I’ve driven the 2010 328 and it’s fine, it’s got more room in the backseat than last year’s model. It’s a good option for me, if I end up in that price point. Again, we’re having Mr. G choose his car first. We both drove the 650 convertible, and neither of us loved it. It’s very fast, but it’s not Porsche fast and it’s the same price as Porsche. They have a back seat, but my 8 year old can’t fit in it. It’s a weird car, we’re passing on it. I’m waiting to drive the 5’s and the 7’s (please gawd no 7’s they’re for old people).

Volkswagen: I drove the Passat around the block. There was no need for more of a test drive. It was unimpressive in every possible way.

Infiniti: I drove the M35S. I shouldn’t have bothered, when I opened the car door it felt light. I never felt secure in the car. It’s fine, it’s just not for me.

If I had to make a decision tomorrow… I’d rent a car. I’ve got a dozen more cars to test drive, and we’ll narrow it down soon. I’m excited to try some longer test drives. Remember when I drove the Lexus? I’ll have a few reviews coming up like they, where they are more than a 10 minute test drive.

My worst fear is that we get our 4th and 5th BMW’s in a row in new shades of grey. So. Boring.