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2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Real Sporting Capabilities>

The same people that bring us the wonderful MX-5 sports car have produced a “zoom zoom” crossover utility vehicle (CUV) that is the sports car for those that need more space. The 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD is amongst the increasing crop of smaller utility vehicles and it’s certainly the only one that has real sporting capabilities.

Last year’s model introduced the SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at a nice 3250 rpm; 6200 is redline. What this newer engine does is give smile-inducing acceleration together with wallet-happy fuel economy – just what you’d expect from Mazda. With advanced direct injection, the CX-5 – even with all-wheel-drive – gets up and goes quite nicely and handles long trips very well – crosswinds are not a problem.
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Failing to follow other manufacturer’s decision to use CVT transmissions, Mazda fits a shiftable 6-speed automatic for all CX-5 models and offers a 6-speed manual (yes, really) for the Sport front-wheel-drive rendition. Compliantly firm MacPherson struts and multilink suspensions offer stabilizer bars at both ends of the CX-5 and with all-wheel disc brakes and precise electronic power assisted steering, all is right in the chassis department. Toyo P225/55R 19-inch tires rotate on twinned five-spoke alloy rims.

The CX-5 in all-wheel-drive trim has a slightly larger fuel tank at 15.3 gallons than its front-wheel-drive brethren (14.8 gallons) and is rated 24/30/26 using regular unleaded fuel. As this vehicle was used to run between Chicago and Indianapolis for the 60th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals with rather limited in-town travel during the trip, we were edging closer to 28-29 mpg for the week together, which is darn good when you consider this CUV weighs 3560 pounds.
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The deep crystal blue with sand leather interior Mazda CX-5 presents an elegant imprint amongst similar vehicles aching to be tops in this category. It’s a comfortable place to be for hours at a stretch, with one-touch window for the driver (handy for toll booths), and a wonderful panorama sunroof that both tilts and slides. While there is no ventilation for rear seat passengers, there are cup holders throughout the cabin of this CUV and power plugs, too, even under the hatch. The 9-speaker Bose audio system is terrific and Mazda includes both satellite radio and Pandora access – nice job!

Mazda has done away with temperature gauges – they did that several years ago – and the gauge is replaced by blue (cold) and red lights to tell you engine temperatures. The navigation system installed is a TomTom unit that’s extremely easy to use and very bright and readable. There’s a “tell-tale” on the navigation screen that gives the driver true speed limits for most roads and shows red when driving faster than the posted speed limits. For a week, we lived in that red zone.
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The weather cooperated during our midwest visit so the three-position seat heaters weren’t necessary to use. Mazda does have a proximity key that opens all doors and the hatch. It has side avoidance in the mirrors and all controls are quite easy to work with.
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This CX-5 came equipped with a cargo mat, rear bumper guard, door sill trim plates and the grand touring package of navigation, HID headlights with auto leveling, adaptive front lighting, auto dim rear mirror with Homelink and smart city brake support that raised the price of entry from $30,050 including freight to $31,760. The only item I might want to add would be a cargo cover behind the rear seats at the hatch opening.
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While it’s the driving characteristics of this CUV that endear the Mazda CX-5, it’s hard to overlook the fact that this is a five-star winner in our government’s safety ratings, earning that status in all but rollover capability, where it garners four stars. That’s impressive. Much of that is due to Mazda’s excellent manufacturing and it boasts great seams and closures. The CX-5 also has plenty of soft plastics that can aid in an accident by soothing impacts.
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With its fun capabilities over the road, its huge list of amenities inside the cabin and exceptional build quality, the 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD is certainly one of the best smaller crossover utility vehicles available in the U.S. market. It’s one ride that looks to be easy to live with over the course of a lease and/or purchase and one of the better buys in this crowded category.

Words and photos by Anne Proffit