My impressions of the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Diesel Variant

29 September 2016

For about five (5) days, our family had the privilege of test driving the new 2016 Mazda CX-5 Diesel variant.  This post contains my impressions of the Mazda CX-5 from the point of view of the passenger, not a driver since I'm not one.  I'm going to say things about how I felt riding in the car.  I'm going to say how my kids felt riding in the car.  Our test drive took us around Las Pinas and all the way to Baguio City, giving us a really good picture of how the Mazda CX-5 handles itself in different road and weather conditions.

Let me first start by telling you a little bit about the Mazda CX-5 Diesel variant.  It's a compact crossover SUV with a Diesel engine.   It has the unique SkyActiv-D technology system that works to ensure efficient engines that lead to better fuel consumption.  As I understand it, when the car is at rest, the engine shuts down but is able to sustain power and provide it to some of its systems which is why you can still have the aircon on, the music on, the lights on but your car's engine is off.  I could actually feel the engine shutting down (there's a distinct rumble/vibration to it) whenever we stop at the stop light.  It will automatically get started again once the driver releases the brake pedal and gets the car moving.  To know more, head on to Mazda Philippines' CX-5 page here.

For 5 days, we were able to drive the Mazda CX-5.  We took it to Las Pinas and back, via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Coastal Road.  We also drove it all the way to Baguio City through different road types and conditions - asphalt, cement, muddy, rocky, inclined, flat, downhill, curved, wet and dry.

Let me now list my impressions, in no particular order or preference:
  • The size is perfect for a family of 4, like ours.  The kids had a lot of leg room at the back, naturally, but adults like Patrick and me, felt comfortable enough when we tried sitting at the back.  The cargo space is more than adequate to fit our packed bags, with a lot left for packages and additional bags from our shopping expedition in Baguio.  The compact size of the vehicle is also a plus when parking, especially along Session Road where parking spaces are at a premium.   There are some tight spots in Baguio that a regular-sized SUV may find hard to enter but will be manageable for a compact crossover.  Combine the size with superior engine handling and the Mazda CX-5's maneuverability along the road is enhanced. 

  • I'm a simple mom so I loved the arm rest/cup holders in the back.  Dana and Dylan used that for sleeping during the long drive.  It also serves as a boundary so that they each have their own space and they know enough not to cross it.  At one point, Dylan was complaining that Dana was hogging the arm rest and so I told them to share - their two heads can fit on it if they're willing to cooperate. 

  • The bucket seats in front, for both driver and passenger, were very comfortable.  They actually felt snug which worked perfectly when we were on the zigzag road going up to Baguio.  I wasn't sliding around in the seat which can sometimes happen if it's just a normal seat.
From Mazda Philippines' website
  • Oh and the power seats are heaven-sent!  Having to sit in the car for more than four hours, it can get really sore on your back.  The ability to slowly manipulate the angle and incline of your seat to get into a better position to relieve some of the pressure on your back is an absolute and divine feature!  You can also adjust your preferred leg room in the same way.  The slow changes in the angle (for your back rest) and distance (for your leg room) through minute manipulation give you a much more satisfying and comfortable ride.
  • Since the Mazda CX-5 is a diesel, I was surprised that I couldn't hear the engine while we were on the move. Usually, from my experience with other diesel cars, the engines were so loud that they usually drown out music and conversation :)  With the Mazda CX-5, it's well-insulated that you can't even hear the sound of the engine at all.  
  • Like most new cars in the market, the Mazda CX-5 has a built-in infotainment system.  What I like about it is the monitor/screen.  In some cars I've ridden in, it can get quite difficult to view the screen when exterior light is strong or it shines on the screen making it hard to read it.  With the Mazda CX-5, that's not the case.  I don't know if it's the angle or the actual material of the screen that allows it to be readable at any light.
  • During the drive back, we experienced some heavy rains along La Union.  I appreciated its Rain Sensing Wipers that turned on automatically as rain fell on the windshield (although I think you can also tweak the settings to suit your preference).  It's one less thing that your hands have to deal with so you can simply focus your attention on the handling of the car, especially during hazardous conditions.  
  • A new (to me) feature that highlights why I love the Mazda CX-5 is the Lane Keep Assist System.  I saw Patrick fiddling with something and later on, I noticed that every time he veers from the lane he's on, a beep is heard.  I found it both interesting and practical.  Interesting because it's one safety feature that ensures you drive safely under normal conditions and practical because it can save your life if you ever fall asleep at the wheel and suddenly your car starts moving to a different lane.  Patrick said that you can even choose what type of alarm you want to hear or feel - a beep, a vibration on the steering wheel or a rumble strip.  He said he prefers the beep because it's less intrusive since he's awake anyway and I was there to check him if he does keep off his lane.  However, if you are alone and you know that you'll be driving a long way and there's a possibility of falling asleep on the wheel, the rumble drive or the vibration may be a better choice as they provide a stronger stimulus to your system.  In addition, another part of the Lane Keep Assist System is an alarm when one or both your hands are off the steering wheel or if you're handling the steering wheel much too lightly for control.  I was surprised to hear it when Patrick let go of the wheel for a moment to lightly scratch his nose with one hand. I think it beeped a few more times when Patrick had to shake his arms to get his circulation going.
  •  Though fuel consumption doesn't really have any impact on me being a passenger, it does affect me as one who manages the finances of the household.  The Mazda CX-5 is so fuel efficient that we were able to travel around 700 kilometers at an average of 13 kilometers to a liter.  Imagine, we were driving the SUV around Las Pinas; we drove it on the roads of Baguio and back and that's no small feat considering the long drive and that the engine needs more power (and therefore more fuel) to climb steep roads and high elevations; and yet, we only had to refuel once and that was even a safety precaution because we still had a quarter of fuel left in the tank.  
I'm not a driver so I can't really say how good it feels to drive the Mazda CX-5.  What I CAN say though is that I really love being in it.  I really love riding in it.  My kids are happy and content and during a long drive and that's crucial (actually, come to think of it, anytime they're in a car that's crucial!).  I love the safety features.  I love the fuel savings.  I love how Mazda thought of every little detail to make both driver and passengers comfortable and safe.  I want a Mazda CX-5 now :)

Thanks Mazda for letting us experience this journey with you :)

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