Five’s easy pieces
Sales of Mazda’s hero hatches and sedans were, in the parlance of its advertising campaign, zooming five years ago. Its SUVs, however, were no match for the booming sales of rivals.
The large CX-7 and even larger CX-9 weren’t finding favour with SUV buyers, so in 2012 Mazda replaced the former with the CX-5 mid-sizer.
A regulation five-door wagon, it had the choice of front and all-wheel drive, petrol and diesel engines, and manual and auto transmissions.
Despite being shorter and narrower than the CX-7, the successor had more hip and legroom and a bigger boot.
The cabin was spacious, the seats were comfortable and supportive, there were lots of storage options and the splitfold rear seat made it flexible for carrying loads or luggage.
Having copped flak for the thirst of the CX-7, Mazda went all out to deliver fuel economy with the CX-5. Its engine options were a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2litre twin-turbo diesel.
The 2.0-litre delivered — its construction was light, compression was high and friction was low on the internal moving parts. Mazda’s iStop function shut it off when stopped at lights. Performance wasn’t flash, which Mazda addressed by adding a 2.5-litre four to the options early in 2013.
With much more power and torque, the 2.5 got along much better if a little thirstier.
The best compromise was the 2.2-litre diesel, with decent power and loads of torque for easy and flexible driving, though experience showed it wasn’t well suited to short trips.
By far the majority of cars used a six-speed sports automatic. The sole fitment of a manual gearbox was with the petrol front-wheel drive Maxx.
With the Maxx or Maxx Sport 2.0 petrol versions, the options were front or all-wheel drive. With the 2.5 or diesel, or Grand Touring or Akera, allwheel drive applied.
In keeping with the “zoomzoom” theme, the CX-5’s ride was on the firm side, though comfortable enough not to be bothersome. The handling was accurate and balanced and it steered and stopped with assurance.
CX-5 owners we surveyed reckon they are happy with their cars, none reporting reliability issues. From other reports, the diesel engine has had some issues.
Some owners observed that the oil level seemed to increase when they did an oil check. The oil wasn’t actually increasing; it was being diluted with diesel fuel and if it wasn’t addressed it could lead to rapid engine wear or, in extreme cases, failure.
In cars doing short trips, the diesel particulate filter didn’t go through the self-cleaning process — a small amount of diesel fuel is injected on the exhaust stroke to get the filter up to a temperature sufficient to start the burn-off process. Some of this extra fuel found its way into the sump, hence the apparent increase on oil level.
Mazda first recommended owners check the oil level once a month and if they noticed the oil level increasing to take their car to a dealer to have it attended to. The fix was new software that modified the operation of the filter. A new oil dipstick was also released with the “Full” mark higher on the stick.
Cars doing longer distances and running at higher speeds are not affected by the problem. A fix for anyone concerned about their car is to do a regular run down the freeway.
Make sure the car you are buying has been well serviced and if it is a diesel ask the owner about how it has been used, and if they have had any issues with the oil level.
Natalie Crouch Our 2013 Maxx is economical and easy to drive. It’s great for carrying dogs, groceries and the family. We love it. Belinda Allen My 2014 Maxx is quiet, smooth, comfortable, economical and easy to drive and park. I’ve had no trouble. Bob Stammers Performance from my 2014 Maxx Sport diesel is excellent. It has plenty of torque when needed and the economy is great. I’d have no problem buying another one. Kay Richards My 2014 Maxx is great — it’s economical, quiet, and zippy. I’ve had no problems.
A good SUV choice but be aware of diesel engine problems if you’re only driving short distances.