Confronted with several thousand dollars out-of-pocket for scheduled maintenance on my '06 PT Cruiser, I went looking for alternatives. I've driven small cars all my life (more than half a century of ...
Confronted with several thousand dollars out-of-pocket for scheduled maintenance on my '06 PT Cruiser, I went looking for alternatives. I've driven small cars all my life (more than half a century of driving), and after comparing dozens of models of 5-door hatchbacks and small SUVs, the CX-5 was the best match for what I needed to carry, how I like to drive, and offered excellent fuel economy for an old retired guy on a fixed income. I was VERY surprised to find myself in the market for an SUV. I drove several, and even in person, the CX-5 won me over. I've had mine for a couple months now, and am so far very happy with it.
Positives: Exterior styling, done so well that it conceals to some extent the fact that the CX-5 is an SUV. The car's coefficient of drag is lower than the much smaller PT Cruiser it replaces! The interior is stylish without being too extreme, and I like the all-black look. It's quite comfortable, and — another reason I ended up with an SUV – easier for someone with a surgically-repaired back and balky knees to get into and out of than the 5-door hatchbacks that I was also considering. The car comes with most of the features as standard equipment that I'd have ordered as options in years past, including A/C, 4-wheel disc brakes, alloy wheels, and a USB port in the console that allows me to listen to my iPod while it's hiding inside the console.
The 6-speed manual transmission might be the best manual transmission I've ever driven, and I've driven a lot of them since I got my first driver's license in 1960. Throws are short, crisp, and gear engagement is positive. It's a pleasure to row through the gears in traffic. 6th is truly an overdrive, and I don't generally use it under 50 mph. I did not opt for 4-wheel drive, so winter traction is only "adequate," and I also did not opt for the larger engine, so "adequate" is a fair description of the car's power as well. It wouldn't win many drag races, but I'm able to merge with highway traffic without any problems.
Negatives: Color choices are limited on the base model to silver, dark gray and black. To get actual colors, you have to move up a trim level, and in doing so, you lose the manual transmission, which is only available on the base model. I wasn't willing to give up the 6-speed, so I settled for silver instead of the sky blue I wanted. Mazda's larger engine is also not available in the base model, and I'd have liked to have had the extra horsepower, but the 6-speed came first, and I'd have had to go to an automatic transmission if I moved up to a Touring model. I wasn't willing to do that.
I've had the car about 2 months now, not long enough to get a feel for reliability. So far, I like it very much. It's not only comfortable, it's nimble. While it's quite a bit larger than my previous vehicles, when I'm behind the wheel, it doesn't drive like it's larger. Steering is quick and positive, brakes are powerful, gear changes are smooth, and the driving experience is very pleasant. Sitting up a bit higher not only makes the CX-5 easier to get into and out of than a "regular" car, it's a bit of an advantage in traffic as well. Mileage so far in almost exclusively urban traffic has been 27 to 28 mpg, so I'm well satisfied with that as well.
Maybe not quite as much zoom-zoom as the TV ads would have you believe, at least not with the small engine, but it's versatile, carries a lot of stuff, and it's genuinely fun to drive.