2014 Mazda CX-5, the Thin Mint of SUVs: Motoramic Drives
Last week, I was driving down Shoal Creek to pick my son up at Sunday school. A local Girl Scout troop had set up a cookie stand. I decided to get in good with the wife by picking up a box of Thin Mints. That sounds like a pretty badass morning, I know. Try not to be envious.
I pulled over in my just-from-the-factory 2014 Mazda CX-5. It was candy-apple red, gleaming like a freshly polished fingernail. The 2.5-liter engine, new for this model year, hummed nicely. I rolled down the window and placed my order.
“Oh my God, dude,” said one of the Girl Scouts. “I love your car.”
“It’s new!” I said excitedly.
“It is so awesome,” she said. “So cute!”
Until this moment, I’d been having trouble placing the CX-5 into context. The compact sports utility vehicle segment doesn’t get a lot of love from my cohort. They’re not fast or stylish enough, and not really big enough for much more than a family of four. Essentially, they mark the evolution of the monstrous SUV into nothing more than a large hatchback. I like that development, but understand why it’s not exactly the car industry’s glamour shot.
Now, though, I’d discovered the CUV’s true destiny, embodied in this adorable new CX-5. Toyota and Honda, whose RAV4 and CR-V have never been called “cute” by a Girl Scout (as far as I know), could take lessons from Mazda’s quirky off-brand styling here. The only other car I’ve driven over the years that has evinced that kind of reaction was a mint-green Mustang convertible, though most of those squeals were from middle-aged men. But this CX-5 was girly all the way, and in the best way. Mazda has, quite by accident, produced the contemporary version of Barbie’s Dream Car.
This year’s CX-5 differs not much from last year’s. There are some new interactivity doo-ads. (Side note to car companies: Stop trying to impress me with the fact that your car is able to run Pandora via my smart phone. I don’t care how much they paid you. Give me a car that can make toast, and then we’ll talk special features.) But there is one actually significant new feature — a different engine. The 2.5-liter “Skyactiv G” gives the car the touch of zip and vigor that the previous 2.0-liter engine lacked. The CX-5 had been ready for a little boost. It gets 184 hp, and uses it wisely, for the most part.