BUYERS GUIDE - SOFT-ROADERS
The largest-selling medium softroader wagon was updated for 2015 and thereafter came with a temporary spare tyre, so we stopped testing Mazda softroaders.
Australia’s most popular SUV received a facelift, with the 2015 Mazda CX-5 also getting interior, exterior and safety improvements.
Since arriving in February 2012, the Mazda CX-5 dominated the SUV market, with total vehicle sales around 90,000.
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 had internal and external styling changes and the introduction of new i-Activesense technologies.
The CX-5 featured MZD Connect, Mazda’s car connectivity system, with a seven-inch touch screen display operated by a centrally located control knob.
Further updates included an electric parking brake and safety technologies on selected grades: adaptive LED headlamps (ALH); lane-keep assist (LAS); driver
attention alert (DAA); smart city brake support (SCBS F/R) adds rearward detection; smart brake support (SBS) and radar cruise control.
The grille mesh was replaced by five horizontal fins and front headlamps, fog lamps and rear combination lamps could have LEDs. There was a new19-inch wheel with five paired spokes and there were two new CX-5 colours: Sonic Silver Metallic and Titanium Flash Mica.
Changes to the CX-5’s suspension were said to produce a smoother, flatter ride and NVH was improved. Drive Selection varied response to suit different driving conditions.
The 2.5- litre petrol engine and 2.2-litre diesel engine had i-stop (stop-start) technology to reduce fuel consumption in stop-start conditions.
We’re not quite sure what Mazda’s ‘Skyactiv’ technology means, but we are sure the diesel is the one to buy if you planned long trips, or if you intended to tow a trailer. The diesel had much more torque than the 2.5-litre petrol engine and also had better claimed economy.
Thanks to the new Japan Free Trade Agreement, prices for the CX-5 decreased, even with the addition of new equipment. RRPs for the AWD models ranged from $32,190 to $50,610.
We decided not to test post-2015 Mazdas, because of the company’s decision to have ‘toy’ spares in all its SUV range. Having had some dangerous experiences with temporary spares we won’t drive any vehicles that have them.
Mazda CX-5 2014 models
Outputs of 129kW at 4500rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm gave the diesel CX-5 ute-like pulling power. Our on and off road testing, including town and country driving resulted in economy of 7.4L/100km, which gave the diesel CX-5 a range around 700km from its small 58-litre fuel tank.
Outback Travel Australia site visitors want to know how softoaders handle gravel roads and fire trails and we can report that the CX-5 was better than most of its competitors, with comparatively good approach, belly and departure angles, and traction control that greatly limited wheel spin in slippery and loose conditions.
All CX-5s had McPherson strut front ends and multi-link rears, with all-disc ABS/EBD braking and electric power steering. Diesel variants weighed-in around
1700kg empty and could pull 1800kg of trailer weight.
Xenon headlamps came on the Grand Touring and Akera models and offered bright lighting, but with a clipped high beam.
All four equipment-level models were highly specified, including tyre pressure monitoring and reverse camera. All but the base model had satnav and the top two were distinguished by having leather upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat and reversing sensors. The Akera added high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning.
Back seat space was a tad squeezy, we found, but the easy-fold mechanism made converting the back seats to cargo space very easy.
A ‘toy’ spare was standard, but the wheel well held a real wheel and tyre, with only minor loss of cargo volume.
For on and off road recovery, screw-in towing eyes were supplied.
On and off road
The following video tells most of the story. We found the Mazda pleasant to drive around town and on the open road. The suspension coped with mild corrugations, but bottomed on large potholes.
The top-shelf models roll on four 19-inchers and we’d suggest you swap them for five 17s, for which there’s a much wider range of light-truck off-road tyres.
On fire trails the Mazda CX-5 proved quite competent, but if you plan to tackle them regularly we’d suggest fitting a metal underbody plate to protect engine and transmission.
Without low range and off-road ground clearance we didn’t tackle beach sand and nor should you.