Sunday, 9 August 2020

2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature Review

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Intro

Without a doubt, The Mazda CX-5 is an all-around excellent SUV. It offers stylish exterior, upscale interior, excellent build quality, and advanced safety features, all at an affordable price. More importantly, the CX-5 provides something most of its rivals simply can't: the joy of driving. Combining precise steering, taut handling, and a smooth engine, the CX-5 brings a smile to anyone behind the steering wheel. It is no wonder the Mazda CX-5 is the best selling vehicle in the company's entire lineup. 


For 2020, the CX-5 remains largely unchanged. The most noticeable upgrade is the improved soundproofing of the cabin. With upgraded sound-absorbing materials between the headliner and the vehicle body, the quietness of the interior now rivals those of European luxury brands.


Other changes include the addition of Paddle shifters, off-road traction assist, and a 8" color touchscreen for the 2.5T GT trim. The Signature trim now comes with a 360 degree view monitor and front/back parking sensors.


Thanks to Mazda Canada, I was loaned the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature for one week to test drive. Below is my unbiased review.


Exterior
The exterior of the CX-5 remains largely the same, and it is a good thing. Our test vehicle is covered with the gorgeous Soul Red Crystal paintwork, which compliments the complex shape of the sheet-metal works perfectly. The rich, glossy red paint emphasizes the contours and shadows of the car. According to my body shop buddy, this specially formulated paint is also incredibly hard to match if you ever get into an accident. 

The use of slim headlights and long chrome trims, gives the front fascia a wide stance and a European look. The slightly longer nose makes the CX-5 look like it is ready to pounce on the side. The long nose also houses a 4-2-1 exhaust system that prevents the residual gas from re-entering the engine cylinders by increasing the exhaust path. One of my favorite exterior features from the side is the intricate 19" wheel is standard with the Signature trim. The dark chrome finish is particularly appealing.

There is a sense of timelessness to the exterior design of the CX-5. The Kodo design language ages incredibly well, and keeps the current generation of CX-5 looking fresh and polished well into the year 2020.  

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Interior
The interior of the CX-5 rivals those of a German automaker. This is especially true if you happen to be inside the Signature trim. The layout is clean, simple, and with a touch of artistry. Sweeping lines separate the deck into functional groups, and gives the front cabin a sense of width. 

The climate controls are located at the lower deck, and the infotainment controls are located at the center console. The faux wood decorative panel in front of the passenger seat looks authentic. Beautifully crafted metal trims around the air vents, steering wheel spokes, and the center console play a big role in making the interior feel upscale. I am not a fan of the flip cap design of the 12V charging port. It looks utilitarian compared to the rest of the cabin. The front cabin can also benefit from a few additional USB ports in the center console. 

The most enjoyable spot of the car is definitely the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is well crafted, and comes with an integrated heater. I wish the bottom spoke was hollow. The plastic filler in the middle doesn’t look good against the beautiful chrome trim around it. 

The two-toned leather seat is not only beautiful to look at, but also extremely comfortable even for long drives. Heated front seats are standard for all models. GT and above also get ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. The rear seat warmer control is hiding inside the center flip-down armrest. It would be hard to reach when all three back seats are occupied. 

The rear cabin is quite comfortable for shorter passengers. The slightly limited legroom might bother taller passengers for longer drives. Rear passenger air vents can be found in GT and above trims. It is also available with the Comfort Package for the GS trim. 

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Infotainment
The informant of the CX-5 hasn’t changed from last year, and it is starting to fall behind its competitors. The standard 7.0” touchscreen looks good, but the huge bezel on the sides are not particularly appealing in the year 2020. The GT and Signature trim models get an 8.0” touchscreen display, which improves the look slightly. The software interface is the familiar Mazda layout that is intuitive to operation. The touchscreen response is on the slower side, and some features like the radio tuner are buried too deep into the menu. The command style rotary dial and buttons are a treat to operate, and both Android Auto and Apple Carplay are standard for all models. 

In front of the steering wheel is a 7" LCD display and a windshield-projected color Active Driving Display for the GT trim and above. The 7” LCD has a very analog look. Most of the real estate is devoted to the speed dial. I feel like it is a missed opportunity. For a screen this size, the LCD can be utilized as a navigational map, and be used for vehicle settings as well. 

On the plus side, the 10-speaker Bose sound system that comes with our tester sounds fantastic. The centerpoint surround technology does a great job of providing an immersive audio experience. 

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Safety and Driver Assistance
The CX-5 comes with an abundance of standard safety features. They include:
  • Rearview camera (wide angle)
  • Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
  • Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring System (ABSM)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS)
  • Driver’s and front passenger’s seat-belt pretensioners with force limiters
GS and above get:
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function (MRCC with Stop & Go function)
  • Smart Brake Support (SBS)
  • Pedestrian Detection (forward sensing)
  • Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
  • Lane-keep Assist System (LAS)
  • High Beam Control System (HBC)
GT and above also get:
  • Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR)
  • Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
The Signature Trim comes with the following parking assist features:
  • 360° View Monitor
  • Front and rear parking sensors
The CX-5 earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It is a safe car that is packed with the latest and the greatest safety technologies. 

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Driving
The 2020 CX-5 comes with either a 2.5L naturally aspirated engine or a 2.5L turbocharged engine. The standard 4-cylinder engine produces 187hp of power and 186lb.ft. of torque. The turbocharged engine can run on either regular gasoline or high octane fuel. 

With the 97 octane fuel, you get 250hp of horsepower and 320lb.ft. of torque. With the 87 octane fuel, the engine still provides  227hp of horsepower and 310lb.ft. of torque. 

Our tester comes with the turbocharged engine that is able to propel the car from 0-100km/hr in 6.7 seconds. It is decently quick for a family SUV. At no point during the test drive do I feel wanting more power. The throttle response is quick and predictable, makes highway merging especially enjoyable. The turbocharged engine is only able to be paired with a 6 speed automatic transmission and a AWD drivetrain. 

The best part about driving the CX-5 is that you do not feel like you are driving a SUV. The car goes exactly where you want it to with vigor. The steering is precise, and provides satisfying responses. The suspension is tight, but not too firm. The CX-5 finds the perfect balance of providing ride quality and body roll control. 

I can go on to talk about how the engineers at Mazda utilize engine torque and brake control to maximize vehicle stability. But all you need to know is that it is a fun car to drive. 

The turbocharged CX-5 is rated at 10.8L/100km city, and 8.7L/100km highway. The naturally aspirated engine model is rated at 9.8/7.9 for the AWD version, and 9.3/7.6 for the FWD version. The added fuel cost is well worth the price for the turbocharged engine in my opinion. 

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Cargo Space & Storage
While not the largest in the segment, the CX-5 still provides 875L of trunk space behind the rear seats. Folding the rear seats down, the cargo space is increased to 1687L. The rear seats fold flat, and the floor is high for easy loading. The rubber cargo mat that comes with our tester looks slick and fits well. 

Inside the cabin are plenty of nooks and crannies for smaller items. The center console storage bin is deep, and comes with a removable tray. There is a deep tray at the front of the center console, and a tray inside the fold-down armrest in the rear for your smartphones. The side door pockets are deep, but not particularly wide. They work best with longer objects like water bottles. 

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Verdict
The 2020 CX-5 is truly a car for the masses. The slick exterior and the premium interior should appeal for people looking for finer things in life. The abundance of safety features and the top-of-the-class safety ratings should satisfy those who worry about the precious cargo in the car. The functional storage options should meet the needs for most families running daily chores. Finally, the smooth engine and the excellent car dynamics should put a smile on even the most hardcore petrolheads. It is hard not to love.

Test Vehicle
2020 MAZDA CX-5 SIGNATURE

MSRP
$40,950 CAD Price as tested: $43,295 (including Freight & PDI

Color
Soul Red Crystal Metallic


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