Auto manufacturers know this is a key to sales success, and Mazda seems to know it better than most.
Take the 2014 Mazda CX-5, for example.
The latest version of the five-passenger sport-utility vehicle is a significant jump up from the previous one. And the blue ribbon winner for best single improvement in this ride is the power plant.
The 2014 CX-5 gets the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower, a way, way better offering than the former 2-liter job with 155 horsepower. Simply said, the 2.5-liter engine enables you to do things you couldn’t think of doing – or certainly didn’t look forward to trying – with the 2-liter engine.
Stronger, abler, the new, stronger engine just makes you feel more secure behind the wheel. You feel you can climb easier, haul better and just have a better chance of getting out of harm’s way if that occasion arises.
If the Old Folks Home is not that far away in your future – and I’m thinking of myself here, folks – you like the CX-5 over its big brother, the CX-9. The CX-5 is the easier package to deal with, much lighter in feel and agile in an almost athletic way.
I realize there are folks out there with young families and lots of gear, and the CX-9 is likely going to be your cup of tea. But for me, the CX-5 is a spot-on choice for a driver that likes good ride height, the ability to carry a good number of folks and passengers every now and then and an easy-handling SUV that makes a daylong road trip seem not all that tiring.
That’s the CX-5 in a nutshell.
My tester was comparatively pricey among the seven trim levels, a 2014 Grand Touring AWD version with enough extras to push the bottom line to nearly $32,000. Even so, I thought that price was pretty good, given all the features on the sticker.
Mine included a power moonroof, leather trimmed sport seats, an eight-way power driver’s seat, heated power exterior mirrors and a kickin’ Bose audio system with nine speakers. Like I said, pretty good goods for the price.
Fuel mileage is pretty good at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
Mazda kicked in some sharp-angle side sculpting to spruce up the otherwise smooth small SUV profile, and riding on 19-inch alloy wheels looked good. Felt good too. Exceptionally smooth ride on the open road. Interior space, comfort, quietness: quite good.
As in other models, the blind spot monitoring system sounded when I was well out of harm’s way and zooming past a car going 20 miles per hour slower than myself. But hey, better to err on the side of safety, right?
Overall, a solid B-plus to A-minus grade range for this 2014 SUV.