Mazda CX-5 Long-termer - Profile driveway

Mazda CX-5 Review: Long-term report one

Rating: 9.0
$36,620 Mrlp
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We've put our money where our advice is ... and bought the winner of our SUV mega-test.
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A Mazda CX-5 has joined the CarAdvice long-term test fleet, though this one will be around longer than usual: I've bought one.

If you had been keeping up to date with our Santa Fe long-term reviews, you’ll know the Mazda CX-5 has replaced the Hyundai as the Spinks household’s family transport.

Why a CX-5? Well, you could call say I’m putting my money where CarAdvice’s mouth is.

The Mazda won our SUV megatest earlier in 2013, beating the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.

Not all new-generation models make notable leaps over their predecessors, but the CX-5 manages to be smaller externally than the CX-7 yet more spacious and practical inside.

It wasn’t an automatic choice, though.

The wife, Gloria, was initially somewhat of an SUV-sceptic (having previously owned a Peugeot 307CC) but the arrival of a first child meant a rethink.

A Mazda 3 hatchback was tempting but was too far away from launch at time of purchase; the new Volkswagen Golf is the benchmark small car but its boot – like other hatches – didn’t feel sufficiently big enough after the Santa Fe’s cavernous cargo area. I also had an eye on a Mazda 6 wagon, though Gloria wasn’t keen on the looks.

Another advantage of SUVs is that their higher seating means you have to bend less when putting the bub into the vehicle, or lifting out again.

Once we’d settled on the CX-5, it was then a matter of deciding which trim.

The base model, the Maxx front-drive, was ruled out for the 2.0-litre’s underwhelming performance.

The best CX-5 engine is the 2.2-litre turbo diesel, but the entry point here is $39,470 before on-road costs and, although we could afford it, we didn’t think the premium was worth it.

So the choice was the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol that is standard with all-wheel drive, even though we’d have been fine with front drive.

More decisions had to be made from there, however, as the 2.5L is available in four trim grades: Maxx, Maxx Sport, Grand Touring and Akera.

The wife and I were agreed (it can happen) that dual-zone climate control and the integrated Tom Tom satellite navigation were important, so that ruled out the base Maxx (from $32,880). In our view, the steel wheels of the Maxx aren’t the prettiest and spoil the look of the CX-5.

The Grand Touring comes with the best-looking alloy wheels that would have been our preference, though it’s a huge gap between the $36,620 Maxx Sport and $43,780 GT.

While we could have afforded that premium, we felt we could cope without the extras the GT brings that include two-inch-bigger wheels (19s), bi-xenon headlights and daytime running lights, sunroof, auto-dimming rear view mirror, leather seats, electric driver’s seat with heating and lumbar adjust, front and rear sensors, plus 231-watt Bose audio.

Akera – from $45,770 – is essentially a GT with additional safety systems: blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and high beam control that can automatically switch between high and main beam when it detects oncoming traffic at night.

So we opted for the Maxx Sport, though it’s a shame Mazda doesn’t offer greater flexibility in the range by making items such as the Bose audio or sensors optional.

The standard-on-every-model rear-view camera is useful, but you can’t beat the supplementary support of sensors in my view.

Colour? Always a tough one, and we went happily conservative in the end with pearlescent white (for no extra cost thanks to Mazda’s great touch to make special paints standard on its models – except for the Soul Red).

The Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport petrol retails for $36,620, but – excuse the plug for a CarAdvice sister site – we saved about 10 per cent through Best Price once a couple of minor options were added, which connects buyers anonymously with dealers who compete to offer the most attractive price or package.

We’ve now passed 1000 kays on the odo.

The Maxx Sport’s 17-inch alloys have grown on us – and more importantly the ride is a bit more relaxed (but still firm at low speed) on the 17s rather than 19s.

Modern engines still benefit from being run in properly. During the first 100km or so, I did have thoughts we may have been given the 2.0L petrol by mistake.

A good run down the Hume to Canberra and back, however, did wonders for freeing up the 2.5L.

Those of you who have been following our Hyundai Santa Fe long-term reports will know some readers accused the wife and I of being lead-foots due to the diesel’s poor economy compared with other experiences.

That was more to do with the heavily restricted journeys after baby Seb arrived, but the Mazda CX-5 is already going further.

The trip computer tells us we’re averaging 10.0 litres every 100km compared with an official combined figure of 7.4L/100km. I’m measuring fuel use so will provide a first update on actual economy in the next report.

Early days but we already feel we’ve made a great choice in the Mazda CX-5. Let’s see if our minds are changed over the coming months…

Read CarAdvice's compact SUV comparison test.