My wife was buying something in Target the other day and the lady at the cash register saw my wife's car key sitting on the counter. It was face down so she couldn't see the emblem, but she recognised the shape.
"Is that a Mazda key?" the lady asked.
"Yes it is" replied my wife.
"Which model do you have?" she asked again.
"We have a CX-5" my wife responded.
"Oh really? I have a CX-5 too! Which model CX-5 is it?"
"Umm ... the one with the sunroof" replied my wife (she's not a car person).
"Get outa here! That's the one I wanted. It's a great car isn't it?"
"Yes it is, we love it"
These weren't the type of car enthusiasts that would visit CarAdvice on a regular basis (ok they've probably never even heard of this website), but it does illustrate the positive response the CX-5 has received from everyday owners more than 2 years after it was introduced. My wife was telling me this story as we drove out to the Dandenong Ranges for a day trip in our CX-5 GT Diesel, at which point she declared it to be the best car we've owned, and I agreed.
Based on the Mazda3 platform, the CX-5 is small enough to be easy to drive in a suburban environment, yet spacious enough for the needs of our young family. It's fuel efficient, yet the generous torque of the 2.2 litre twin-turbo diesel engine gives it effortless day-to-day performance with truly satisfying in-gear urge. It's comfortable, yet there's minimal body roll in corners and the handling is beautifully well-balanced. It's got all the features we could want in a car including heaps of safety kit, and it has a sporty style compared with other cars in its segment.
As we drove through the Dandenongs on our way to a cherry farm, the car hooking decisively into turns and surging out of them on that mid-range torque, the 6 speed auto intuitively selecting the right ratios, our favourite songs streaming through the 9 speaker Bose sounds system and the GPS guiding us to our destination, I couldn't help but think that the cherry farm is not going to be this much fun. And I was right, although the cherries were delicious and we now have enough cherries to last us a very long time!
We bought the car 2.5 years ago in early-2012 when the CX-5 first came out and our ownership experience over that time has been great, but it hasn't been without its hiccups. There was the well-publicised oil rising issue in diesel engines, although our car didn't seem to be affected. Our car did suffer from a failed exhaust pressure sensor, but it was quickly rectified by the local Mazda dealer. There was also a minor squeak from the base of driver's seat, but again that was sorted by the Mazda dealer during a routine service.
Other negatives include the TomTom-based SatNav, which can be slow to respond to user input when entering details through the touchscreen, especially when you are used to the fast response of the latest smart phones. It also disables user input when on the move, which makes it frustratingly difficult for the front passenger to enter details once we've started on the journey. The lack of rear air vents is also seen by some people as a negative, although the front centre vents are quite strong and our daughter has never complained about it.
Overall, these are minor issues and we couldn't be happier with our choice of family car for the reasons stated above. After all this time, it continues to bring a smile to my face when I get behind the wheel. At some point we're going to have to replace it, but it's going to be tough to find an SUV with a superior combination of performance, efficiency, ride, handling and features in a relatively compact size without spending a lot more money.