One year and six months ago, I lost the love of my life. After years of faithful service, my 1996 Saturn took its own life in spectacular fashion. Instead of jumping into another ?relationship,? I opted to spend a year off-road and, for once, take my time choosing a nice, new vehicle. In the months ahead, I?ll be reviewing the cars that are vying to fill the big, worn-out shoes my Saturn left behind. I hope you?ll come along for the ride . . .
When it comes to love, I’ve always been a sucker for chemistry. For that zing, that instant zap of electricity that makes you listen to your heart instead of your head. Needless to say, this hasn’t always worked out for the best. I’ve made choices I later regretted, I’ve acted on impulse, I’ve overlooked people (and houses, and jobs, and pets) I perhaps shouldn’t have because I was having a Dustin Hoffman moment.
Now that I’m older (ish), I’ve been making a conscious effort to look deeper than “zing” and try to focus on personality.
Turns out it’s not that easy.
When I first saw the Mazda CX-5, I did not feel that flutter. I’m a big fan of Mazdas, it’s just that crossovers, in general, confuse me. Are they large cars or are they small SUVs? Are they work vehicles or play vehicles?? I don’t quite get what they’re gunning for.
However, as part of my new plan to grow up, I decided to be receptive to it on the strength of its badge alone.
Our initial rendezvous was … awkward. I’d never been with a crossover before. The exterior struck me as sturdy but not flashy, the interior struck me as a tame and unexciting. Hmm, I thought. On a scale of one to Johnny Depp, I’d give this a Matt Damon.
Matt Damon is a lot of things: he?s successful, he?s popular, he?s cute and he?s nice. But sexy? Sorry, no.
Yet a funny thing happened over the next few days. The more I drove the CX-5, the more attractive I found it.
For starters, it has the smoothest brakes I have ever experienced, which is fortunate because it’s also got all-wheel drive. (I’m a huge sucker for AWD; I don’t know which car I’ll be buying when my search is over but I do know this: it will have AWD.) This affords it the kind of tight-as-a-drum steering that loves the curves, it begs for curves, it practically goads you to push it a little heading in so that you can feel that awesome “stuck like glue” grab at the apex.
It may be a CUV, but I sometimes felt like I was driving a sportscar.
The CX-5 is also refreshingly spacious and roomy everywhere, not just in the front seat but in the back and the trunk and over your head, everywhere. I loaded it up with people and stuff and drove it to Wasaga Beach one weekend and not once did anyone bang elbows. I very quickly got used to the sideview mirrors that not only light up but also chirp at you when someone is in your blind spot.
And it’s fantastically good on gas, thanks to Mazda’s much-vaunted Skyactiv Technology.
So as our brief time together came to an end, I found myself feeling a bit wistful. The CX-5 had grown on me. It was a nice guy. It had proven itself to be solid and comfortable and reliable. But it’s a family car whereas I’m an empty nester; the biggest thing I haul around these days is a dog that looks like a pig (it’s been remarked upon).
For people who are looking for a family vehicle with tons of room and great handling and good fuel efficiency, the CX-5 is a very good option. For me, personally, I’m still hoping for that animal attraction.
‘Heart’ score: 6.9 out of 10. I like you, CX-5, but you’re in the friend zone
Price: $22,995 base; $35,250 fully loaded, including technology package
Follow Marie Sutherland?s reviews online at Wheels.ca
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