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January 2014

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.