Plain vanilla never tasted so good

The Washington Post Sunday - - CARS - war­ren.brown@wash­

Or­di­nary works. I can get ac­cus­tomed to it, even fa­vor it.

For one thing, you don’t have to worry about where you park or­di­nary, un­less you do some­thing egre­giously silly such as choose a spot in a dark al­ley in an un­fa­mil­iar city.

Law en­force­ment peo­ple leave you alone in or­di­nary, par­tic­u­larly if you are sit­ting be­hind the steer­ing wheel with no­tice­ably gray hair. You’d have to do some­thing pretty out­ra­geous to get their at­ten­tion. Oth­er­wise, you can al­most hear them think­ing: “Leave the old guy alone.”

The only bad thing about be­ing gray­haired and driv­ing some­thing as or­di­nary as this week’s sub­ject ve­hi­cle, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Tour­ing AWD cross­over util­ity ve­hi­cle, is young men. What’s with them? The posted speed limit, clearly vis­i­ble in stark black and white, is 30 miles per hour.

I am go­ing 30 mph, maybe 32 mph, but clearly not fast enough for the fel­low in the loud Dodge Chal­lenger be­hind me. He moves close to my rear bumper, then swerves to my right be­fore rudely cut­ting in front of me.

He’s a young man in a hurry — to go where? I don’t know. That 30 mph limit pretty much con­trols the length of Ge­orge Ma­son Boule­vard in Ar­ling­ton. If Mr. Chal­lenger keeps mov­ing as fast as he’s mov­ing, he’s likely to run into one of his former class­mates now wear­ing an Ar­ling­ton County Po­lice uni­form.

I like the ease and com­fort of or­di­nary rep­re­sented by the CX-5 Grand Tour­ing AWD. It sits rel­a­tively high, with a ground clear­ance of 8.5 inches. You can see every­thing front and rear. You feel in com­mand of your driv­ing sit­u­a­tion. And this one comes with a bevy of ad­vanced driver-as­sis­tance op­tions — rear crosstraf­fic alert, blind-spot mon­i­tor, emer­gency brake as­sist-city. Put it this way, if an­other mo­torist is in­tent on speed­ing past you on your blind side, you see the bad ac­tor in plenty of time to avoid trou­ble.

But my fa­vorite tech­nol­ogy on the CX-5 Grand Tour­ing is the rear crosstraf­fic alert sys­tem, es­pe­cially at around 7:30 on a week­day morn­ing when par­ents are rush­ing to work, oth­ers are herd­ing their young ones to lo­cal school bus stops and high school stu­dents are speed­ing to class.

The rear cross-traf­fic alert sys­tem helps elim­i­nate the dan­ger of a back-up col­li­sion or, worse, hit­ting a young child walk­ing be­hind the CX-5. That tech­nol­ogy seems to me to be valu­able enough to be re­quired by fed­eral traf­fic safety of­fi­cials.

It costs money, of course, about an ex­tra $1,505 when cou­pled with other ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance sys­tems. But it is well worth it, I think — cer­tainly in com­par­i­son to the in­sur­mount­able grief of strik­ing a child walk­ing to school.

The new CX-5 Grand Tour­ing AWD comes with a stronger en­gine — an op­tional 2.5-liter gaso­line in­line four­cylin­der model (184 horse­power and 185 pound-feet of torque). You won’t beat any­one off the mark with this one. No mat­ter. It is a ded­i­cated fam­ily hauler. Be­sides, the 2.5-liter en­gine has more oomph and only marginally worse fuel econ­omy than the base 2-liter gaso­line four-cylin­der (155 horse­power and 150 pound-feet of torque).

The big­ger en­gine de­liv­ers 24 miles per gal­lon in the city and 30 mpg on the high­way. The 2-liter en­gine gets you 26 in the city and 35 on the high­way. Both run on reg­u­lar grade gaso­line, which was priced at $1.99 a gal­lon in sev­eral neigh­bor­hoods in North­ern Vir­ginia last week when I checked.

I like this one. In­te­rior fit and fin­ish are ex­cel­lent. In­te­rior ma­te­ri­als seem sub­stan­tially im­proved over those used in the 2014 and 2015 mod­els. But if you are an au­dio­phile, you won’t be crazy about this one. The sound sys­tem de­liv­ers dread­fully or­di­nary re­pro­duc­tion. Oh, well.

I like the ease and com­fort of or­di­nary rep­re­sented by the CX-5 Grand Tour­ing AWD.


War­ren Brown


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