2023 Mazda CX-5; A just right size SUV

Oh no, another SUV! We (the collective we) love our SUVs. But we're a fickle bunch. Once upon a time we loved station wagons, then came hatchbacks, but they weren't big enough so we moved on to mini-vans. But mini-vans became passe, associated with the dreaded "soccer Moms". So we went all macho and turned to SUVs, the bigger the better. 

But not everyone wants or needs a vehicle that is almost as big as a house. Thankfully some car companies offer alternatives for those of us who might want something a little smaller, more personal. One of those companies is Mazda.

Mazda sells five SUVs, two sedans, and two sport cars. The SUVs pretty well cover the market from perfect for a couple up to family-size.

There does seem to be some over-lapping in the sizes of Mazda's SUVs, and I get confused by their names - CX-30, CX-5, CX-50, CX-9, and CX-90. What is the difference between a single digit model and a double digit on? Maybe some day I'll understand the vehicle naming game.

Regardless of its name I found the CX-5 just about the right size for me. It is 180.1" long on a wheelbase of 106.2". It is about 66' high (depending on model), and it weighs between 3,700-3,900 lbs. There is a maximum ground clearance of 7.9" and I still didn't need to climb up into the driver's seat

Every single CX-5 has a 2.5-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder that powers all four wheels. The engine is available in two states of tune; 187-hp and 186 lb- ft of torque, or 227/256-hp and 310/320 lb-ft (87 octane/93 octane). The test CX-5 had the higher output engine although I don't know what octane fuel was in the tank. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic.

I know many of you want to know how quick a vehicle is but I don't test acceleration. Others do and they found that with premium fuel (256 hp) the CX-5 Turbo Signature was capable of 6.2 seconds to get from 0-60 mph. I just want to know if a vehicle can safely merged into highway traffic or quickly pass that lumbering farm tractor on a 2-lane. It can. The real world is the true test.

I'd be the first to admit that I am not smitten with Mazda's styling so I look deeper into how it drives, or how it feels from the driver's seat - It is just fine. It is not a Miata but for a SUV it leans toward the sporty side without sacrificing comfort. 

For the most part I thought the instrument panel and controls were sensibly laid out. Although there is a volume knob for the sound system it is fairly small (that's it to the upper right of the big knob on the center console). Yes there are controls on the steering wheel but I find those harder to use because I have to take my eyes off the road. What I do like is something that a few years ago I could adapt to - Heads Up Display. Now I think it should be standard on all cars. Usually it shows your speed on the windshield; it's right there on the edge of your line of sight.

The test CX-5 was the top-of-the-line 'Signature' version but it wasn't opulent, just very well appointed. It had a great Bose sound system that made the tunes on my smart phone sound great; I do like my tunes.

The front seats were comfortable and supportive. I did have to scoot the driver's seat forward to fold down the rear seat but that wasn't a big deal. There was ample leg room in the rear for an adult. Like many 5-passenger vehicles, the CX-5 should really be considered a 4-passenger. You could put someone in the center rear seat but they wouldn't be as comfy as the outer two.

The "U" in SUV means utility. Sometimes I think it should be a "V" for versatility because you can carry a lot of different stuff. I used it to bring home bags of garden soil and plants. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded down you can load in some fairly long items.

If you need extra cargo capacity you can tow up to 2,000 lbs.

Fuel economy is pretty good. The government figures are 22-mpg city and 27-mpg highway. During my week with the CX-5 I averaged around 25-mpg with more highway than city driving. 

It seems that I have to readjust my thinking on car prices weekly. Over that past couple of years prices and interest rates have soared. It seems to me that $40k is the new $30k. Although car sales are up recently they have been cooling so maybe prices will stabilize. 

A CX-5 Turbo Signature starts at $39,650. The Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint adds $595, and a rear bumper guard adds $135. There are other accessories you could add and up the price even more. I think as tested it was a very well equipped vehicle, probably with more functions than I could figure how to use.

I'd say check out a Mazda CX-5. If you don't need or want all the bells and whistles a base CX-5 S with 187-hp starts at $26,700.



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