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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2018 Mazda6 Signature

      The turbo makes the difference

    The Mazda6 is a prime example of how making various improvements throughout the lifecycle can make a vehicle. Since the first model I drove back in 2014, Mazda has been messing around with various aspects such as the interior and NVH levels. Last year saw Mazda make some key changes to 6 with the big news being the introduction of a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder from the CX-9 crossover. This was to address one of the major shortcomings of the sedan, lackluster performance when it comes to making a pass or merging onto a freeway. There are some other minor changes to go with the updated engine that help make the Mazda6 feel a bit more rounded.

    • The turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder produces 227 horsepower (250 on premium fuel) and 310 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic to the front wheels. 
    • I praised this engine in the CX-9 I drove back in the summer with a linear flow of power and no hint of turbo lag. Those carry over to the 6, along with the feeling of confidence that you’ll be able to pass or merge onto a freeway without any issue. It was quite startling how quick the 6 accelerated from 45 to 70 on a freeway on-ramp, only taking a few seconds. The six-speed automatic works seamlessly with the turbo engine, providing snappy up and downshifts.
    • One other trait of the turbo engine I was impressed with was NVH levels. There was barely any engine noise or the whoosh of the turbo when accelerating.
    • Mazda hasn’t messed with the 6’s chassis with the addition of the turbo engine. It still has the planted feeling and minimal body roll that imparts a lot of confidence to a driver. Steering is quick and provides the right balance of weight and feel.
    • One surprise is how the 2018 model rides slightly better than the 2017 model as bumps are better isolated. This might be 
    • Exterior enhancements are small with a new grille design, LED headlights, and the 19-inch wheels. But they do a surprising job of keeping of the 6’s exterior looking fresh.
    • The enhancements for the interior really help Mazda’s ambition to become more premium. The dash has been slightly restyled and now comes with stitched upholstery and natural wood trim. The climate control system has been redesigned that makes it slightly easier to use.
    • Mazda has started rolling out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility on the 6 for 2018 via an update. My test car had had the update, but I was unable to try it out as I could not pick the option in the system. I’m not sure of the issue, but I hope to try it once again in a future Mazda product.
    • The turbo engine is only available on the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. My test 6 was the top-line Signature that carries a base price of $34,750. With destination and some options, the as-tested price came to $36,140. If I was to buy one, I would drop down to the Grand Touring Reserve which begins at $31,750. I would lose out on the 360-degree camera system, Nappa leather upholstery, and digital gauge cluster. But I would keep a number of desirable features such as the ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, heads-up display, and power front seats.
    • Every Mazda6 review has seen me come to the same conclusion; the sedan is so close to being considered one of the best, but it is missing a certain thing. But this conclusion is different. Mazda has been able to fix the various issues I have complained about over the past few years and now have a very compelling midsize sedan. It's a shame that the 6 along with other midsize sedans are being overshadowed by the likes of crossovers. But for those who still have their heart set on a sedan, then I have no issue in recommending the 6 as an option worthy of consideration.

    Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the 6, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    2018 Mazda6 Signature Gallery

    Year: 2018
    Make: Mazda
    Model: 6
    Trim: Signature
    Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
    Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26
    Curb Weight: 3,560 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hofu, Japan
    Base Price: $34,750
    As Tested Price: $36,140 (Includes $890.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Machine Gray Paint - $300.00
    Scuff Plates - $125.00
    Cargo Mat - $75.00

    Edited by William Maley



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    12 hours ago, regfootball said:

    Per Car and Driver

    2018 Mazda6 signature

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 6.4 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 16.0 sec
    Zero to 130 mph: 33.3 sec
    Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.7 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.2 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.2 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 14.9 sec @ 97 mph
    Top speed (drag limited, mfr’s claim): 149 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 184 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.81 g

    C/D FUEL ECONOMY:
    Observed: 21 mpg
    75-mph highway driving: 36 mpg
    Highway range: 590 miles

     

     

    2018 Buick Regal Sportback FWD (just sayin)  Mazda continues to underwhelm, all the time, time to stop glorifying their run of the mill

    C/D TEST RESULTS:
    Zero to 60 mph: 5.6 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 13.8 sec
    Zero to 130 mph: 28.8 sec
    Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.1 sec
    Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 sec
    Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.0 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 14.2 sec @ 101 mph

    Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph
    Braking, 70–0 mph: 162 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g

    C/D FUEL ECONOMY:
    Observed: 24 mpg
    75-mph highway driving: 31 mpg
    Highway range: 490 miles

    And this is what Car and Driver wrote about both (pure numbers don't tell the whole story):

    Buick:

    HIGHS: Dapper styling, hatchback versatility, compliant ride, peppy turbo engine.

    LOWS: Middling interior materials, heavy (manual) liftgate, uninspiring dynamics.

    Mazda:

    HIGHS: Superb driving dynamics, class-above interior look and feel, pretty darn pretty.

    LOWS: Virtually no options, no hybrid or plug-in versions, top turbo engine lacks real verve.

    VERDICT: A sports sedan impersonating a mid-size family sedan.

    _______________

    Sorry, even according to C&D not even close

     

    Edited by ykX
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    11 hours ago, William Maley said:

    Is the review in question? 2018 Buick Regal Sportback FWD

    I'm going to burst some bubbles here. I recently just sat in a Regal Sportback over the weekend at a local auto show (more on that in an upcoming Afterthoughts) and I hate to say it, I was disappointed. Many of the plastics used were somewhat middling and didn't feel as nice as the one found in the Mazda, let alone the recent Hyundai Sonata and even the Toyota Camry XSE. For a car that stickered around $38,000, it made me shake my head. The cars just listed - sticker between $2,000 to $6,000 less.

    Now I'll give the Regal that it has the easier infotainment system to use. I'm quietly hoping that Mazda gets their act together and introduces something modern in the next year.

    Is the Mazda6 the be all, end all midsize sedan? No. There are some areas that would make me hesitate to recommend the 6 like the stiff ride. It does some things quite well that it has earned a place in the sedans I would recommend which includes the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata.

    I'm withholding comment on the driving dynamics of the Regal till I can get my hands on one. On paper, it may seem like the better car. But I have a sneaking suspicion that I would still pick the 6. 

    You’re right about the Regal interior.  It does come off better in the tan combo. The 6 is one of that cars strong points. 

    I just keep seeing The 6 get praised so much in buff books and the whole ‘when the  Mazda 6 gets a turbo it will the king ‘ and they finally put something other than their mid pack base engine in there and it isn’t near as fast as GM’s ubiquitous 2.0. 

    That was sort of the main point. 

    Buicks handling is not sporting material but it’s a decently quiet cruiser. 

    11 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Honest question where does the Camry fall short compared to the 6 the Malibu and the Sonata?

    I find the Fusion awkward enough that I told the rental car company to stop sending them to me for our school debate trips.

    DTS was a nice car. I like them.

    I think the new Camry with sport package and v6 got some decent buff book reviews lately so yes that is a completely legit question. 

    I want to see this new Altima coming out.  Accord is fugly and deceptively tight inside. New Altima with turbo is worth waiting to see imo 

    30 minutes ago, ykX said:

    And this is what Car and Driver wrote about both (pure numbers don't tell the whole story):

    Buick:

    HIGHS: Dapper styling, hatchback versatility, compliant ride, peppy turbo engine.

    LOWS: Middling interior materials, heavy (manual) liftgate, uninspiring dynamics.

    Mazda:

    HIGHS: Superb driving dynamics, class-above interior look and feel, pretty darn pretty.

    LOWS: Virtually no options, no hybrid or plug-in versions, top turbo engine lacks real verve.

    VERDICT: A sports sedan impersonating a mid-size family sedan.

    _______________

    Sorry, even according to C&D not even close

     

    I never said the Buick with 2.0 was a sport sedan. I was merely pointing out that Mazda’s turbo is still not fast after all this time waiting for it  

    If you’re looking at 35k for a Mazda it’s maybe time to look into a near Lux marque or just get a CPO Audi or BMW. 

     

    And mazda JUST NOW getting CarPlay SMH

    Edited by regfootball

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    23 minutes ago, regfootball said:

     

    If you’re looking at 35k for a Mazda it’s maybe time to look into a near Lux marque or just get a CPO Audi or BMW. 

     

    And mazda JUST NOW getting CarPlay SMH

    Unlike Audi or BMW Mazda will not require thousands of dollars to keep it running, $35k is average now for a loaded mid size sedan.

    You are right about Carplay/Android Auto, GM did great by offering it one of the first manufacturers.  But Honda for example just recently started to offer it also, and Toyota starting to do it just now as well.  Mazda is tiny compared to all these giants.

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    14 hours ago, dfelt said:

    FYI, I have been in the CT6, very nice car, but the rear I cannot fit in without the front seat pulled up and I slouch. Still not big enough for my body. Yes I am the exception to many here.

    If you're too big for the back of a CT6 then why do you even care about the ATS and CTS, let alone a Mazda 6.I have to believe the CTS is larger than a Mazda6. 

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    5 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    If you're too big for the back of a CT6 then why do you even care about the ATS and CTS, let alone a Mazda 6.I have to believe the CTS is larger than a Mazda6. 

    The Mazda 6 has 99.7 cubic feet of interior volume, the CTS has 97.    

    The Mazda 6 has 3 inches more rear leg room, and about the same hip, head and shoulder room.  (all within an inch).   

    So they are very close dimensionally for rear cabin dimensions.

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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    9 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    The Mazda 6 has 99.7 cubic feet of interior volume, the CTS has 97.    

    The Mazda 6 has 3 inches more rear leg room, and about the same hip, head and shoulder room.  (all within an inch).   

    So they are very close dimensionally for rear cabin dimensions.

    Good to know. Good to know.

    And I assume the CT6 is even larger than the Mazda6? 

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    11 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Honest question where does the Camry fall short compared to the 6 the Malibu and the Sonata?

     

    The Camry has a few issues. One is that it doesn't feel as solid as the other three. Close the door on the Camry and it has a very tinny-sound. The other three don't that. Next is the value argument. That XSE I drove awhile carried a pricetag of $35,333 for the four-cylinder. If I want the V6, I need to add another $2,000. That price doesn't include everything you might want such as navigation, heated rear seats, etc. It gets worse as you climb down the lineup as some models don't get certain features. For example, if you want two USB ports, you need to get into the XLE or XSE - otherwise, you're only getting one.

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    16 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    If you're too big for the back of a CT6 then why do you even care about the ATS and CTS, let alone a Mazda 6.I have to believe the CTS is larger than a Mazda6. 

    While I am very tall and muscular, as we well know, the bulk of America is getting bigger in girth and as such, I tend to think about everyone when it comes to a car, CUV, SUV, Truck that can hold people comfortably. 

    I believe that all levels of auto's can be built to hold people comfy and not just be a driver focused auto. The only way change comes about is by pounding the drum for change.

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    6 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Good to know. Good to know.

    And I assume the CT6 is even larger than the Mazda6? 

    Yes. 

    CT6:
    Rear Head Room 38.00 in 
    Rear Leg Room 40.40 in 
    Rear Shoulder Room 56.20 in 
    Rear Hip Room 53.50 in
    and XTS:
    Rear Head Room 37.80 in 
    Rear Leg Room 40.00 in
      Rear Shoulder Room 56.30 in
    Rear Hip Room 54.30 in

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    2 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Yes. 

    CT6:
    Rear Head Room 38.00 in 
    Rear Leg Room 40.40 in 
    Rear Shoulder Room 56.20 in 
    Rear Hip Room 53.50 in
    and XTS:
    Rear Head Room 37.80 in 
    Rear Leg Room 40.00 in
      Rear Shoulder Room 56.30 in
    Rear Hip Room 54.30 in

    Wow, those are very similar. 

    8 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    While I am very tall and muscular, as we well know, the bulk of America is getting bigger in girth and as such, I tend to think about everyone when it comes to a car, CUV, SUV, Truck that can hold people comfortably. 

    I believe that all levels of auto's can be built to hold people comfy and not just be a driver focused auto. The only way change comes about is by pounding the drum for change.

    You're going to be disappointed in 100% of autos that aren't full size SUVs. 

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    2 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Wow, those are very similar.  

    Interesting also that the CT6 has a wheelbase almost 11 inches longer than the XTS, yet much the same rear seat space.  The difference being RWD proportions vs FWD proportions. 

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    2 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Interesting also that the CT6 has a wheelbase almost 11 inches longer than the XTS, yet much the same rear seat space.  The difference being RWD proportions vs FWD proportions. 

    Almost all of that is in moving the front wheels forward on the CT6

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    58 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Good to know. Good to know.

    And I assume the CT6 is even larger than the Mazda6? 

    The CT6 is larger, but the CT6 has a 'big hood'.....CT6 has a large back seat but not entirely as much as one would believe with the wheelbase and size of the car.

    A car like the S class has always bragged about leg room in the back seat being a big deal.  So maybe not in midsize class, but for sure in the lux class, it is fair to say that if someone is looking at a luxury car, leg room is a big consideration.

    57 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    While I am very tall and muscular, as we well know, the bulk of America is getting bigger in girth and as such, I tend to think about everyone when it comes to a car, CUV, SUV, Truck that can hold people comfortably. 

    I believe that all levels of auto's can be built to hold people comfy and not just be a driver focused auto. The only way change comes about is by pounding the drum for change.

    CAFE and government pressure to keep making vehicles smaller is why mainstreams cars are getting whacked in size.  If you want size, then you must pay (suburban, big crossovers, etc.)

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    2 minutes ago, regfootball said:

    The CT6 is larger, but the CT6 has a 'big hood'.....CT6 has a large back seat but not entirely as much as one would believe with the wheelbase and size of the car.

    A car like the S class has always bragged about leg room in the back seat being a big deal.  So maybe not in midsize class, but for sure in the lux class, it is fair to say that if someone is looking at a luxury car, leg room is a big consideration.

    CAFE and government pressure to keep making vehicles smaller is why mainstreams cars are getting whacked in size.  If you want size, then you must pay (suburban, big crossovers, etc.)

    So true and spot on in regards to rear seat and leg room.

    Yup you have also nailed it for cafe, as to why all I own is SUV's.

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    46 minutes ago, regfootball said:

    CAFE and government pressure to keep making vehicles smaller is why mainstreams cars are getting whacked in size.  If you want size, then you must pay (suburban, big crossovers, etc.)

    I'm pretty sure CAFE has to do with footprint and that's why vehicles have gotten larger and not smaller.

    @Drew Dowdell(It won't allow me to tag anybody else for some reason) but  doesn't CAFE have to do with the footprint of the vehicle as well as the fuel economy? Isn't that why we need a CAFE score of like 50mpg and not literally 50mpg. 

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    3 hours ago, William Maley said:

    The Camry has a few issues. One is that it doesn't feel as solid as the other three. Close the door on the Camry and it has a very tinny-sound. The other three don't that. Next is the value argument. That XSE I drove awhile carried a pricetag of $35,333 for the four-cylinder. If I want the V6, I need to add another $2,000. That price doesn't include everything you might want such as navigation, heated rear seats, etc. It gets worse as you climb down the lineup as some models don't get certain features. For example, if you want two USB ports, you need to get into the XLE or XSE - otherwise, you're only getting one.

    If I go for a mid sized sedan and want to keep it a long time...do you think these trade offs are worth it for long range durability and resale or would I be better off to look at something else?

    Agree on the Camry not feeling as solid...

    Thinking BRZ or Miata may well be next car...but seriously thinking Sedan also.

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    8 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Thinking BRZ or Miata may well be next car...but seriously thinking Sedan also.


    I'm so disappointed in the BRZ...

    I think they're great looking cars but I looked into getting more power out of them and they're basically dogs unless you throw boost at them and that's disappointing. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWcGW-wlOEg

     

    Edited by ccap41

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    1 minute ago, ccap41 said:


    I'm so disappointed in the BRZ...

    I think they're great looking cars but I looked into getting more power out of them and they're basically dogs unless you throw boost at them and that's disappointing. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWcGW-wlOEg

     

    You are soooo right...absolutely.

    Two things drive me that direction-would like to start autocrossing again and that particular chassis does well at a lot of venues here in Ohio.

    Also, wife and family like them so it is a much easier sell at home than a Camaro, Mustang, Miata, or Focus ST.

    Were it just me and I had my choice of anything it would be mustang GT first Choice Civic Type R second choice...Golf R might well come in third.

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    14 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    If I go for a mid sized sedan and want to keep it a long time...do you think these trade offs are worth it for long range durability and resale or would I be better off to look at something else?

    Agree on the Camry not feeling as solid...

    Thinking BRZ or Miata may well be next car...but seriously thinking Sedan also.

    You have or had a Miata previously, right?   

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    10 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    You are soooo right...absolutely.

    Two things drive me that direction-would like to start autocrossing again and that particular chassis does well at a lot of venues here in Ohio.

    Also, wife and family like them so it is a much easier sell at home than a Camaro, Mustang, Miata, or Focus ST.

    Were it just me and I had my choice of anything it would be mustang GT first Choice Civic Type R second choice...Golf R might well come in third.

    Right?!?

    I thought about looking into a used one as a toy last week and thought I'd look up what can be done to get about 200whp and a couple grand gets you almost jack sh!t?!? Super disappointing.

    Does your future toy need to have a back seat? I would think the Mustang's V8 would make it an easy sell to the kiddos...less so to the wifey... 

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    16 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

    Right?!?

    I thought about looking into a used one as a toy last week and thought I'd look up what can be done to get about 200whp and a couple grand gets you almost jack sh!t?!? Super disappointing.

    Does your future toy need to have a back seat? I would think the Mustang's V8 would make it an easy sell to the kiddos...less so to the wifey... 

    Kids love love love the idea of a Mustang GT...wife feels the exact opposite.

    15 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    I've thinking a lot about the toy thing lately...for summers on Ohio backroads. 

    Foe me...it is how bland everything else on the market is...I am only going to live so long.

    28 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    You have or had a Miata previously, right?   

    A couple of them. Would not mind an S2000 either.

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    1 minute ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    Kids love love love the idea of a Mustang GT...wife feels the exact opposite.

    Foe me...it is how bland everything else on the market is...I am only going to live so long.

    Yeah, I'm approaching 50...I want to have fun again driving.  I love driving my Jeep, but really want a sports car of some sort. 

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    Just now, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Yeah, I'm approaching 50...I want to have fun again driving.  I love driving my Jeep, but really want a sports car of some sort. 

    I am 53 and my youngest goes away to college next year. I want to enjoy my status as a free man...well sort of...still married and don't plan on changing that.

    • Haha 1

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      Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.
      There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.
      The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.
      There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 
      Do you need a safe space? This may be it.
      The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.
      The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.
      The Verdict
      The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.
      Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
       

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature
      Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque.  For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250.  Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque.  Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought.
      There’s no replacement for displacement… maybe
      The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment.  The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee.  This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway.  I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds.
      Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined.
      One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band.
      Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender
      If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW.  The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel.  Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be.  The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels.  Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. 
      It’s what’s inside that matter most
      Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.
      There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.
      The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.
      There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 
      Do you need a safe space? This may be it.
      The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.
      The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.
      The Verdict
      The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.
      Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.
       
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