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2014 Mazda CX-5: First Drive Page 3

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2014 Mazda CX-5

Touring models get the Blind Spot Monitor system, upgraded audio, fog lamps, rear cupholders (and an armrest), a rearview camera, steering-wheel controls, and upgraded upholstery, while top-of-the-line CX-5 Grand Touring models get leather upholstery, nine-speaker Bose audio, dual-zone climate control, a power driver seat, front heated seats, and Sirius satellite radio. Options are limited to a Bluetooth Audio Package on the Sport; a Bose sound and moonroof package on the Touring, and Technology packages on the Touring and Grand Touring—as well as a few other a la carte options such as remote start and rear parking sensors.

Unimpressive infotainment, otherwise a steal

Available on the Sport and included in both of the other models is a new touch screen system, including Bluetooth, HD Radio, voice command, text-message audio delivery, and Pandora compatibility). Essentially the same as the system in the 2014 Mazda 6—minus the Command Controller—it's adequate but far from ideal. As we noted in that model it can be surprisingly sluggish, and the menu structure is odd.

Also new is Smart City Brake Support—newly wrapped into the Tech package—will automatically brake the vehicle for hazards at speeds ranging from 4 to 19 mph.

We still think that the 2014 Mazda CX-5 remains a screaming good deal, for those who must be practical but want something fun to drive, in base Sport form, with the manual transmission. But for those who want an automatic and the whole family along, we won't hesitate to recommend the new CX-5 2.5-liter models.

And from all of Mazda's engineering effort, the biggest payoff might just be in real-world mileage. Over a couple of hours and 75 miles or so of blasting down backroads and suburban boulevards between Texas hill country and Austin, we managed to average more than 26 mpg overall—definitely better than we've seen in real-world driving in any rival models.

While other automakers are pushing the message of turbocharging and smaller engines, here's Mazda, offering two new naturally aspirated engines that offer a comfortable, linear driving experience that we dare say is easier to live with from day to day—all while getting near-best-in-class numbers with the stronger engine.

That, the price, and the driving experience are especially worth taking note of. While the CX-5 isn't the roomiest or most refined in this class, it delivers a precise, predictable, at-ease driving experience you usually only find in lower, leaner vehicles—leading to what Mazda's grille now only surreptitiously suggests: a smile on your face.

See our full review of the 2014 Mazda CX-5 for more information, including pictures, specs, pricing, and more firsthand observations.

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