Good things come in small packages. Though the 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD is not a full sized SUV, it sure carried itself as such – stylish, comfortable, sporty, versatile and fun.
Being that autumn is our favourite time of year, we took the CX-5 on a scenic drive to take in the changing seasons. Through our journey, we marvelled at the beautiful colours of the trees, visited a farm to pick up apples and pumpkins, voted in the Canadian federal election, and even made a road trip to Pittsburgh for a hockey tournament. Through it all, fuel economy was excellent, due in part to Mazda’s improved high efficiency SKYACTIV- G 2.5L engine. The steering was pure precision, the CX-5 handled every turn with ease, which resulted in the smoothest of rides.
Top Marks for Safety
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 was awarded the Top Safety Pick+ designation for 2015 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It earned the highest rating in all areas, including a superior rating for Front Crash Prevention. Was I surprised? Absolutely not.
Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE encompass several safety technologies that are truly intuitive. The majority of the safe tech come with the optional $2,100 technology package, which in my opinion, is money well spent. Here’s why:
Lane Departure Warning System
Every time I drifted lanes, a series of quick beeps would sound along with a warning flash on the dashboard. I found this very useful, especially on long road trips, where fatigue sets in.
High Beam Control
Dark roads have nothing on us with Mazda’s HBC. I always turn on my high beams, and then I switch back to low as other vehicles approach. HBC will automatically switch between high and low beam depending on the situation. When approaching a high-lit area, it would switch back to low beam. When it sensed approaching vehicles ahead or oncoming vehicles travelling in the opposite direction, it would switch to low beam and back again once the cars have passed. Awesome feature.
Blind Spot Monitoring System
As a car enters our blind spot, a warning light would appear in the side mirror. Having radar sensors on both sides of the CX-5 gave me added peace of mind whenever a lane change was required. (standard in GT model).
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
I am not a fan of backing out of a parking spot as there’s just too many blind spots, but the RCTA takes the stress out of reversing as it’ll flash a warning in the side mirror when there is approaching traffic coming from the sides. (standard in GT model).
Adaptive Front Lighting System
When we hit dark roads, the CX-5’s LED headlights reigned supreme. With every turn, the AFLS would move up to 15 degrees in the direction of the turn to help illuminate corners. (standard in the GT model).
Smart City Brake Support
Using an infra-red laser sensor, the CX-5 detects objects up to 6 metres ahead and prepares the vehicle to stop in the likely event of a collision.
As a parent, safety is always top of mind. After driving the CX-5 GT equipped with the optional technology package, it’s hard to go back to anything else. This is the kind of car I would put my family in, it’s the kind of car I would want my kids to learn to drive in. In fact, the CX-5 is on IIHS’s list of recommended cars for teen drivers.
The driver and passenger seats were spacious, comfortable, and most of all heated. Even my husband who is 5’11, had plenty of headroom and legroom in the front seats. My teen and tween both had ample legroom in the back and managed to keep out of each other’s “space” during our 5-hour drive to and from Pittsburgh.
The 7” touchscreen display shows audio, Bluetooth phone and navigation information, and also doubles as the rearview camera display. The navigation worked as it should and was invaluable, especially when crossing the border as paying for data to get GPS on a mobile device can be costly.
Bluetooth controls mounted on the steering wheel allows for hands-free calling and audio, but it’s the HMI Commander Switch located between the gearshift and cup holders that I found extremely handy. The switch controls navigation and audio with a push or turn of a button or knob. As the touchscreen disables while the car is in motion, either the driver or passenger can control navigation and audio with the Commander Switch. I still find myself reaching for it in my own car.
The auto wipers came in handy as we drove through plenty of rain. A rain sensor detects the amount of rain hitting the windshield and will adjust wiper speed accordingly. This is another useful feature, which means less fidgeting so I can concentrate on the drive ahead.
The instrument panel is simple without feeling clustered. The information display contains useful details such as distance to empty (good to know when low on gas), average MPG, current MPG, average speed and distance recognition support system (measures the distance between you and vehicle in front).
There are 2 USB ports located up front, between the two front seats. Our kids, armed with phones and tablets for the road trip, were disappointed there were no additional ports for the back seat occupants, although there is a 12V power outlet inside the centre console.
We are a hockey family, so trunk space is a must for us. The 40/20/40 split folding configuration of the back seats offers additional cargo room. The rear centre seat folds down to accommodate hockey sticks down the middle. The one-touch levers make it quick and easy to fold rear seats. With the rear seats folded flush, cargo volume expands to 1,852 litres from the 966 litres with the rear seats in use. There is plenty of room for hockey bags and sticks. The large cargo drip mat keeps the cargo area mess free, which is perfect for strollers, sports equipment like snowboards, ski boots, hockey bags, hockey sticks, and even pets. Initially, I was somewhat surprised that the liftgate wasn’t electronic. However, being that the liftgate is light (I can open and close with one hand), there was really little need for it.
The Mazda CX-5 GT AWD is an impressive automobile, brilliantly engineered for today’s drivers. It had a fun and sporty feel, with excellent handling and precision steering. The CX-5 has everything our family of 4 wants – top safety rating, spacious interior, plenty of cargo space, and good fuel mileage.
Model Tested: 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD
Drivetrain: Front-engine, All-Wheel-Drive
Engine: SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Inline 4-cylinder
Transmision: SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed Sport mode automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 9.8/7.9/L/100 km (city/hwy)
Trunk/Cargo Capacity: 966 L (1,852 L w/ rear seat folded)
Price: MSRP $34,895 CAD; as tested $38,890 CAD ($2,100 technology package and $1,895 freight)
Learn more about the Mazda CX-5.
Photos by Krista Beatty Photography
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About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.