Category Archives: Mazda

2018 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF

2018 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF

An Automotive Love Affair
By Joe Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Grand Touring RF (retractable fastback). Of course, the first thing you’ll notice in this model is the automatic power hard top feature. Remember the days when it was a major task to get the top up or down. In fact, the British had a way of making a car that required you to be a mechanic with a complete set of tools just to start the car. I think their concept of a car owner was as enthusiastic about the car as the designers were. Cars of the 1950s and 1960s like MGB and Austin Healey immediately come to mind and of course we can’t forget the Jaguar XKE. Hey, I’ve owned them and loved ‘em too but, in retrospect, I could have used a lot less wrench turning and knuckle busting and more driving.

Well the joy continues with the driving experience you get from driving a sport car like this Mazda. It is the top selling sport car in the world, and for good reason, it is simple and easy to drive. Japanese manufacturer Mazda in 1989 was passionate about a sport car and got his inspiration from the classics mentioned above from the early years. He achieved his goal in my opinion.

BUT, they aren’t for everyone and are more fun than practical. It’s kinda like you need a real car or truck for the real world and for fun and giggles and the sheer joy of driving you get a sport car. It also demands a little flexibility of body just getting in and out.

General Information:

It is assembled in- Hiroshima, Japan; Parts-US/Canadian 0%, Japan 90% Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is- Two Seater. Cars from Mazda- CX-3, CX-5, CX-9, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata, MX-5 Miata RF.

Handling & Performance:

6-speed manual transmission is nearly an appendix that has little use in today’s automotive landscape. Some research disclosed that only 3% of cars sold are so equipped. No surprise, since it is rare to find anyone who knows how to drive what was referred to as a “standard transmission” up until about 40 years ago. Do you think we should now refer to an automatic transmission as “Standard”?

But for those few drivers who are comfortable with a ‘manual’ transmission it is as ‘automatic’ to their driving style. Me – I’m ok with a manual transmission but only as a novelty because the newest and best automatics are unbeatable for performance.

Styling:

Classic Miata styling, and over time it has matured from its early years when, by any measure, it was rather ‘tinny’ sounding when you closed the doors and trunk. That is not the case in recent years. What’s more, the body is broader and more stable looking and feeling. Nice.

Fit and Finish:

Very good assembly especially considering the fact it is affordable, which explains why it is the world’s best-selling sport car.

Cost:

It is well priced and right with its most close competitor, the Fiat 124.

Conveniences and comfort:

Far more features than I expected with all the new technology but if you need a good size trunk you are in the wrong market. I’m reminded of a trip my wife and I took to Lake Tahoe in Northern California to visit my daughter and her family. It was the end of 1990s or early 2000s and we had to pack for a week. Me – I took a toothbrush since that’s all the room that was left after she loaded her stuff. Really, why do women need so much stuff?

Consumer Recommendations:

For me it would be a toss-up between Miata and the Fiat Spider in this class. I’ve owned a 124 Fiat and liked it a lot.

Recognised Competition:

Brand $$$ Cost MPG Avg Seating Doors Country of Origin Assembled
Mazda MX-5 RF 34,000 29 2 2 Japan Japan
Fiat 124 Spider 30,000 30 2 2 Italy Japan
Audi A3 48,000 28 4 4 Germany Germany

Good News:

Looks great, fair pricing, fun to drive, fantastic hard top convertible.

Bad News:

Small trunk and storage spaces and difficult entry and exit.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4-cylinder 155 HP engine, 6-speed manual transmission, rear wheel drive, ABS 4-Wheel power Disc brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, 17” allow wheels, power retractable hard top, auto on/off headlights, heated power mirrors, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise, Bluetooth controls and leather shift knob and hand brake, power windows and locks, leather trimmed upholstery, keyless entry, with push button start, Bluetooth phone / audio, tire pressure monitor, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, anti-theft alarm, front and rear stabilizer bars, front dbl wishbone suspension, rear multi-link suspension, rain-sensing wipers, Bose AM/FM/CDS, 9 speaker audio, aux jack, 2-USB inputs, Sirius XM radio, Navigation system, 7” color touch screen display, cruise control, trip computer with color display, climate control, heated front seats, stability control, traction control, front and side airbags, anti-theft engine immobilizer, auto high beam control and lane departure warning system.

Gas Stats:

$3.45/ Gal avg. April 9, 2018

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

26 City and 33 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,750.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2017 – An Automotive Love Affair

2018 Mazda CX-5 Crossover SUV

The new Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV is nimble, but delivers a great ride. The look is modern and sleek. Inside, there is more room than expected. Photos courtesy of Mazda USA.

By Vince Bodiford

Driving still matters to Mazda

While the automotive world is chasing a dream of autonomous self-driving cars, Mazda is sticking to the idea that many buyers want to buy cars that look and drive great. Mazda’s marketing language underscores that, saying “Driving Matters: it always has and always will.”
Mazda delivers on that promise in the new 2018 Mazda CX-5 Crossover. Our week-long test revealed some nice updates from the prior year, and proved that driving really does matter, especially in our cross-state drive and back. The CX-5 looks and drives great – and we got several complements about it, especially its “soul red crystal metallic” paint – which is really candy-apple red. Beautiful paint.

For the 2018 model year, Mazda CX-5 is employing cylinder-deactivation technology, safety and refinement updates at all trim levels and carries features such as an available head-up display and standard LED headlights and tail lights.
Mazda CX-5’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5 engine has received small updates to reduce internal friction and the amount customers will spend on fuel, but no feature stands out more than its cylinder-deactivation technology. The engine has the ability to shut down the two outside cylinders at cruising speeds to maximize efficiency. Mazda is the only automaker to equip a four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation in North America.

Additional newly standard equipment includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leather-wrapped shift knob. On the safety front, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert comes standard across all models. All features were previously available on mid-level CX-5 Touring models and above.

The entry-level CX-5 Sport features cloth upholstery, standard LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, an electronic parking brake, MAZDA CONNECT infotainment with a 7-inch screen and Bluetooth audio streaming and phone pairing as standard, among a much longer list of features. In its newly available Sport i-ACTIVSENSE Package, CX-5 adds High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic on/off headlights.

The mid-trim CX-5 Touring adds standard 19-inch allow wheels for 2018 and the full i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety features. Mazda CX-5 Touring upgrades to leatherette-upholstered seats and Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry. Additional features in CX-5 Touring include heated front seats, 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air condition vents and two rear USB ports for charging smartphones or tablets.

The available Touring Preferred Package includes auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, BOSE10-speaker audio sound system with Centerpoint2 and AudioPilot2, navigation, a power glass moonroof and a power liftgate.

Further building on the Touring Preferred Package, the top-trim CX-5 Grand Touring receives new 2-position memory driver’s seat and 6-way power adjustable passenger seat. CX-5 Grand Touring comes standard with leather-trimmed seats, LED fog lights and tail lights, Adaptive Front-lighting System and SiriusXM satellite radio with 4-month trial subscription. The available Grand Touring Premium Package includes windshield-projected Active Driving Display head-up unit with Traffic Sign Recognition, heated steering wheel, heated second-row outboard seats and windshield wiper de-icer.

All CX-5 models come with a standard 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G engine that delivers 187-bhp and 186 lb-ft of torque, paired to the SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive is available on every trim level.
Mazda likes to say they build vehicles that inspire, excite and—most of all— bring people joy. They say every Mazda is beautiful, functional and has advanced safety technology to help give the driver more confidence behind the wheel – and with this road test, we agree.

for more information, see your local Mazda dealer, or visit MazdaUSA.com

The Mazda6 Sedan

Mazda is introducing a new Mazda6 sedan starting this fall. The flagship mid-size sedan pricing starts at $30,695. Photos courtesy Mazda USA.

By Vince Bodiford

Mazda rolls out all-new 2018 sedan this Spring

Mazda has raised the bar with its flagship sedan, with an all-new 2018 Mazda6 that goes on sale early this Spring. In anticipation of the new model, we drove the current model, and put our sights on what’s to come. Without a doubt, the Mazda6 is a classy, fun-to-drive mid-size sedan.

Mazda6 has received improvements every year it has been on sale. Updates for the previous model year added more sound insulation throughout its cabin and available Nappa leather interior appointments.

Perhaps the greatest upgrade of Mazda6 Signature is its source of motivation. Mazda’s award-winning, SKYACTIV-G 2.5T gasoline turbo engine returns for its second application. Higher-grade models will also be available with Mazda’s award-winning turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine.

Mazda6 offers two powertrain options in the U.S., starting with the torquey, fuel-efficient SKYACTIV-G 2.5 naturally aspirated engine. Mazda6’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine comes with a host of upgrades to reduce internal friction and improve efficiency across all RPM, and it adds a greater level of refinement. A new technology that is unique to Mazda in North America is cylinder deactivation in a four-cylinder engine. The outside two cylinders can shut down when the vehicle is operated at steady speeds between 25 and 50 mph, but all four cylinders work instantaneously when needed for maximum performance. A centrifugal pendulum has been adopted in the torque converter of the six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission, counterbalancing any vibration that might otherwise be felt when running on two cylinders. The result is an imperceptible switchover between two- and four-cylinder modes, yet with very tangible real-world efficiency benefits.

First available in the current-generation Mazda CX-9 midsize crossover SUV, the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T is a technological tour de force that produces 310 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 RPM and 250 horsepower on 93-octane fuel (227 horsepower with 87-octane gasoline).

Mazda’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo builds boost nearly instantaneously by using a small inlet port to force air into its turbocharger, akin to how water velocity increases when one holds his or her thumb over a hose. From there, a secondary valve can open up at higher RPM for increased airflow and maximum horsepower. A pulse-scavenging 4-3-1 manifold that prevents exhaust backpressure and helps the engine breathe freely.

Up front is Mazda6’s new grille, which accentuates a look of depth, with a strong framework, low center of gravity and wide stance. Its standard LED headlights integrate fog lamps and carry a crisp, wide lighting signature.
Inside, the interior is all-new, with only the steering wheel and small trim pieces carried over from its predecessor. It’s one of the most comfortable and contemporary interiors I’ve been in for awhile. Most noticeable is its horizontally stretched dashboard that accentuates Mazda6’s width and belies a sense of subtle sophistication.

In this latest round of thoughtful improvements, engineers have revisited every aspect of Mazda6’s chassis, with its suspension offering a smoother, more linear ride quality and greater NVH refinement similar to the ultra-quiet CX-9. Its steering rack is now rigid-mounted to the chassis, offering greater steering response and feel, and its SKYACTIV-CHASSIS has been stiffened in complement with the revised suspension to offer both a smoother ride and to improve outright dynamic performance.

Enabling this more comfortable ride without compromising the Mazda6’s handling, the suspension geometry has been revised, with roll-steer changes that promote more neutral handling.

Additionally, body reinforcements, thicker sheet metal in the rear wheel-wells, reinforced chassis bracing and even thicker suspension trailing link mounts help improve interior conversation sound quality, putting Mazda6 into rarified air when it comes to quietness, refinement and capabilities.

Overall, the Mazda6 continues to deliver great Mazda comfort, value and driving fun – pricing starts at $30,695 and our test vehicle was priced at $34,695 nicely equipped.

for more information, see your local Mazda dealer, or visit MazdaUSA.com

Test Drive by Vince Bodiford

In pursuit of premium, an engine isn’t enough. A chassis isn’t enough. An elegant interior and world-renowned design aren’t enough. Refinement and technology aren’t enough.

But together, they complete what Mazda expects to be yet another step to elevate the brand beyond the realm of mainstream vehicles, offering a “Mazda Premium” experience that will delight customers. As with its predecessor, the new Mazda6 will land among the world’s best cars, for those who love to drive. But it will aim higher, moving Mazda’s consideration with customers to a new, class-above place, because Mazda never stops challenging.

2017 Mazda CX 5 Grand Touring AWD

2017 Mazda CX 5 Grand Touring AWD

An Automotive Love Affair

By Joseph Mavilia

Overview:

This is the 2017 Mazda CX 5 Grand Touring AWD. Right off the bat I had a problem. I was traveling down the 210 Freeway toward Pasadena, CA when “BAM” the driver side rear tire blew out. I was surprised since that hadn’t ever happened in nearly 25 years of testing cars on and off the race track as well as on and off road. There was nothing unusual in road conditions so I could only conclude it was a tire failure.

Ok, so the tires were Toyo brand and I’m wondering if it were just a fluke or it had something to do with quality issues of the brand? Is there a tire expert out there to comment?

When I think of it, I have rarely had tire failures any time in my life with the exception of the early days when “Re-Caps” were in demand to save money. They did tend to fail often. But I have, when I could afford better tires, leaned to or preferred US brands like Good Year or Firestone. Bridgestone also has a good reputation.

Looking forward to your comments. Write me at joe@autolove.com.

General Information:

It is assembled in Hiroshima, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 90% Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Small SUV. Cars from Mazda: CX-3,CX-5, CX-9, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata, MX-5 Miata RF.

Handling & Performance:

Mazda is always a quality ride in my experience. They simply are a quality player in the industry.

Styling:

Design styling is rather commonplace, but that is meant in the good sense of the word. I’ve never been a fan of Flashy rather than practical and thus clean and simple lines. Kind of the way I prefer the women in my life. You just can’t improve on what God made, if you get my drift.

Fit and Finish:

Very well assembled consistent with overall quality.

Cost:

Affordable and very competitive in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Outstanding array of great safety features that are a MUST in today’s world.

Consumer Recommendations:

Mazda is a must-see product in class as it has always been super competitive.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX 5 $31,000, Mini Convertible $30,000 4-seater, Fiat 124 Spider $36,000 2-seater, Audi A3 $39,000 4-seater.

Good News:

n/a

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 4-cylinder 187 HP engine, ABS 4-Wheel Disc brakes, skyactive 6-speed sport mode auto trans, AWD system, 19” allow wheels, rain sensing wipers, heated power mirrors with turn lamps, LED headlights with auto on/of, LED Fog and daytime running lights, rear roof spoiler, 5-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power windows and locks, leather trimmed upholstery, 8-way power driver seat with Lumbar support, 6-way manual passenger seat, cruise control, electronic parking brake, keyless entry system with push button start / stop, LATCH child safety seat anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, Electronic Brake force distribution and brake assist, stability control, traction control, front and rear stabilizer bars, power steering, roof mounted shark fin antenna, rear privacy glass, power moonroof, power open / close rear liftgate, dual zone air conditioning with rear vents, BOSE AM/FM/HD/SAT 10-speaker audio, Bluetooth / Aux Jack and 4 USB inputs, 7” color display with rear camera, front and rear center armrests, 40/20/40 split fold down rear seat, heated front seats, Navigation system, Hill launch assist, front, side and front and rear side air curtain airbags, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart city brake support, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

Gas Stats:

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,695.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD (1172)

Overview:
This is the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD SUV, and Wow, it is packed with great features and the price reflects all the cool stuff to make your driving a great experience.

I’ve been test driving Mazda for a very long time. I don’t have any review evidence before 2007 but you get the point. . . which, of course, is that unlike the Pierce Arrow or the Hudson Hornet or even more recently the Oldsmobile and Pontiac, Mazda is still around. Granted the Olds was produced for 107 years. Mazda on the other hand was a succeeding name (1984) of the original attempt of Toyo Kogyo in Hiroshima, Japan to produce a car he referred to as an autorickshaw. The year was 1931 so 85 years of experience. Not too shabby and it is represented as the Mazda CX-9 in my carport.

Okay so I haven’t been driving them since 1931 but my first experience was the MX-5 Miata and I’ve loved the little buggers ever since.

So perhaps I have a little bias, not so unlike my associate who thinks Ford is the best car ever. Not so Tom, but everyone has their pet favorites.

Another reason I have had a soft spot in my heart for Mazda is because I’ve been in the city where Toyo first built them. I was at Ground Zero in 1959 – thus only 14 years after the first Atomic Bomb (and hopefully the last being the one dropped in Nagasaki days later). Do you think all the radiation was gone by then? It would explain a lot if it weren’t. Anyway, it was a touching scene and experience for me.

ground_zero_then

Ground Zero then.

ground_zero_now

and now.

General Information: It is assembled in Hiroshima, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 90% Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Standard SUV. Cars from Mazda: 500, 500c, 500e, 500L and 500 X.

Handling & Performance:
For a large vehicle it is easy to handle and it is Turbo F A S T and much to my liking.

Styling:
Styling of this SUV is rather usual and expected and that’s a good thing.

Fit and Finish:
Excellent assembly work.

Cost:
Well priced all things considered.

Conveniences and comfort:
Most all features add to the convenience and comfort of your driving experience. A minor inconvenience is the Adaptive (smart) cruise control. It is needlessly difficult to turn on and off in its initial use, but more important is that it is not as sophisticated as some I have tested. It does not stop and start without intervention. For me this is one of the most helpful features in busy crowded freeway travel in noticeably relieving stress.

Consumer Recommendations:
If fuel economy is a touchy point for you the average mileage ranges from 17-25 and Mazda tops the list at 25. If seating is the hot point Buick Enclave tops the list at 8 in a range of 5-8. Mazda seats 7 and deserves a look see if a large SUV is your target segment. Happy hunting and Merry Christmas.

Recognized Competition:
Mazda CX-9 $45,000, Dodge Durango $45,000, Chevrolet Traverse $45,000, Lincoln MKX $45,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $44,000, Cadillac SRX $47,000, GMC Acadia $44,000, Buick Enclave $47,000, Toyota Highlander $46,000.

Good News:
Huge array of great features minus the kitchen sink, priced right, smooth and comfy ride, fast as snot on a cold day.

Bad News:
I found the electronic controls more difficult than need be. Others do it better. It will take more getting used to than I like and lastly smart cruise is not so smart.

Standard Equipment:
2.5 liter 4-cylinder 227 HP Turbo engine, All Wheel Drive, 6-speed sport mode auto transmission, 20” alloy wheels, rain sensing intermittent wipers, rear fixed intermittent wiper, heated power mirrors with turn signals, rear privacy glass, power moon roof, aluminum roof rails, power rear lift gate, 7-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power windows and locks, auto dim rearview mirror, Nappa leather trimmed seats, 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory 2-positions,heated front seats, 4-way power passenger seat, Aluminum and rosewood interior trim, 2nd row window sunshades, LATCH child safety seat anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, k4-wheel ABS disc brakes with Brake Force distribution and brake assist, Dynamic stability control, traction control and roll stability control, electric power assisted steering, LED headlights with auto on/off, adaptive front lighting system, LED fog and daytime running lights LED combination taillights, rear roof spoiler, radar (smart) cruise control, electronic parking brake, Keyless entry system with push button start / stop, 3-zone climate control, Bose AM/FM/HD/Satellite 12 speaker system, Bluetooth/ Auxiliary Jack/ USB inputs (4), 8” color display with rear camera, Navigation, trailer stability assist, front, side airbags, 3-row side curtain airbags, blind spot monitor, front and rear stabilizer bars, rear cross traffic alert, rear backup sensors, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, smart brake support with smart city brake support.

Gas Stats:
$2.59/ Gal avg. December 18, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.
21 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:
MSRP $44,915 as equipped.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring Manual Transmission (1164)

Overview:

This is the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring Manual Transmission two seater sport car. Yes – an automatic transmission is an option. Over the years that I have driven the Miata it has matured but so has the cost. In early years it was rather ‘tiny’ sounding but even though it is still a ‘light weight’ small two seater, it has many of the safety features once only found on much more expensive sport cars.

And beyond the technology built in and it has matured from that standpoint, it is still a small car that simply can’t and shouldn’t be able to provide bigger car space and features. Some of the competition that is in the same price range – The Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S both seat 4 -and thus have more room generally.

General Information: It is assembled in Hiroshima, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%   Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Two Seater. Cars from Mazda: CX 3, CX 5, CX 9, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata.

Styling:

Classic Miata that has been updated to meet or go head to head with higher priced cars in this segment.

Fit and Finish:

No complaints.

Cost:

Very competitive among all of those listed here. But when considering alternatives like the Audi and the Nissan they are far more sophisticated and substantial albeit similar in size.

Conveniences and comfort:

For a small two seater sport car it has an impressive number of features that make your drive more comfortable. On the other hand, there is very limited space but I’m sure if you’re in the market for a sport car, you don’t expect larger car space conveniences.

Sport car enthusiasts will also appreciate a manual transmission. But for the ladies there is an option for a 6-speed automatic transmission. Typically female drivers, in my experience, don’t like man-ual transmissions. In fact, both men and women under 40 may never have driven a car so equipped. As I recall the DMV driving test required applicants to take the test in a manually shifted car.

Finally, I’m guessing most older drivers (men or women) aren’t terribly interested in the inconvenience of getting in and out of cars this low to the ground.

Consumer Recommendations:

If you are young, or simply young at heart, no matter the age, and you have a yearning to drive a sport car you will enjoy the ride.

Some of the most memorable times of my life include my wife and I traveling to Lake Tahoe in a Miata for the week. I rather like traveling light. Really light – by necessity in this case. The trunk is very small and there IS no back seat. One way around the space problem is a rack on the trunk lid to put extra luggage.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda MX-5 Miata $30,000, Audi TT Roadster $47,000, MINI Roadster $27,000, Nissan 370Z Roadster $46,000, BMW Z-4 $51,000, Subaru BRZ $28,000, Scion FR-S $26,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, very good handling, fun , fun, fun to drive.

Bad News:

Limited use, low profile discomfort.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 165 hp 4-cylinder engine, Skyactive MT 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel ABS power assist disc brake system, rear wheel drive, 17” alloy wheels, manual folding black cloth convertible top with liner, auto LED headlights, 2-passenger seating, power windows and locks, keyless entry and push button start, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio/ cruise/ Bluetooth controls, leather shift knob and brake handle, 5 year 60,000 mile warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance, anti-theft alarm, blind sport and rear cross traffic alert and lane departure warning system, tire pressure monitor, electric power assist steering, power heated side mirrors, rain sensing wipers, glass rear window with defogger, Bose am/FM/cd 9-speader HD audio, Sirius XM satellite radio, Navigation system, 7” color touch screen, Bluetooth hands free phone/audio, cruise control, trip computer, tire pressure monitor, climate control, heated leather seats, stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, front, front side air bags.

Gas Stats:

$2.65/ Gal avg. October 22, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

27 City and 34 Highway MPG

Combined MPG

Mazda MX-5 Miata – 30 combined mpg, Mitsubishi Lancer – 25 combined mpg, Ford Focus – 25 mpg, Kia Forte 5 24 combined mpg, Prius Hybrid -52 combined mpg (electric), Nissan LEAF – 114 combined mpg (electric), VW Golf – 28 combined mpg.

Pricing:

MSRP $25,545.

2016 Mazda-3 grand touring 5-door sedan (1162)

Overview:

This is the 2016 Mazda-3 grand touring 5-door sedan. It is obvious that all cars stand on their own as to how well they perform in ‘class’ or ‘type’. This is a midsize affordable family 5-door sedan that is among my top three in class.

The test vehicle sported a manual transmission and that rules out many buyers if an automatic were not available. That is true especially for younger drivers who have probably never driven a manual transmission. Back 30 or 40 years ago the manual transmission was referred to as a “Standard” transmission. Auto was an option. Well the tables have turned in favor of Automatic.

The reason you see so few cars with manual transmissions these days, simply put, is that the consumer opts for automatic in most cases. But mostly it is because automatics have become so good that there is less reason for a manual shift transmission.

Older drivers will remember how cluggie automatic transmissions were in the early days. History buffs may also remember Oldsmobile’s Hydromatic, or Chevrolet’s Powerglide, or Packard’s Ultramatic or Buick’s Dynaflow? Those are just a few of the early versions of the Automatic transmission. That is why Manual transmissions were and continue to be referred to as “Standard” as it was in those early day designs. Automatic was an option.

General Information: It is assembled in Hofu, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%   Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Midsize. Cars from Mazda: CX 3, CX 5, CX 9, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata.

Handling & Performance:

The manual trans adds a few mpg and that is good, but in stop and go traffic you’d rather have an automatic. On the optimistic side it gives you something to do and thus you may even be more awake and alert.

I found that on a mountain course I found you don’t really need to shift all that much. The 184 hp matched with a long third gear pretty much handled slow to intermediate speed of travel.

Styling:

As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. On the practical side Mazda is a solid company with well made cars with a generous supply of standard equipment and comfort built in.

Fit and Finish:

I can always count on Mazda to deliver fit and finish that is consistently very good.

Cost:

It is competitive with a host of features that put Mazda at the top of my list.

Conveniences and comfort:

I’m impressed with a generous list of stuff that includes the most modern state of the art technology features. Blind Spot and Cross traffic sensing and alert is important to me. Stability and cruise controls are a must for my car as well. I also appreciate the Hill Start, especially with a manual transmission.

Consumer Recommendations:

I have tested all of these makes and models and I encourage you to test drive all if you can, but the top of my list include this Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Kia Forte and VW Golf.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda 3 $26,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $23,000, Ford Focus $25,000, Kia Forte 5 $23,000, Toyota Prius Hybrid $31,000, Nissan LEAF SL Hybrid $38,000, Volkswagen Golf $26,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, great listing of standard features, comfortable, good power.

Bad News:

For many, the manual transmission will be a drawback, (but you will only sacrifice a few mpg with an automatic if that is your choice).

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 184 hp 4-cylinder engine, Skyactive MT 6-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel ABS power assist disc brake system, 18” alloy wheels, rain sensing variable intermittent wipers, heated power mirrors with turn signal lights, 5 passenger seating, fog lights, moon roof, leather trimmed seats, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry and push button start, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, leather wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and brake handle, 5 year 60,000 mile warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance, anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind sport and rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitor, electric power assist steering, auto on/off lights, body color rear hatch spoiler, 7” color touch screen, rear view camera, navigation system, Bose 9-speaker audio system, am/fm/cd HD radio, Sirius XM radio, sms text message, Bluetooth hands free phone/audio, cruise control, trip computer, steering wheel mounted controls, paddle shifters, stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, front, front sided front and back side curtain air bags.

Gas Stats:

$2.65/ Gal avg. October 9, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

26 City and 35 Highway MPG

Combined MPG

Mazda 3 – 30 combined mpg, Mitsubishi Lancer – 25 combined mpg, Ford Focus – 25 mpg, Kia Forte 5 24 combined mpg, Prius Hybrid -52 combined mpg (electric), Nissan LEAF – 114 combined mpg (electric), VW Golf – 28 combined mpg.

Pricing:

MSRP $25,545.

2016 Mazda CX-3 (1157)

Overview:

This is the 2016 Mazda CX-3 4-door 5 passenger compact car. One distinction of this model, as equipped so well, has an MSRP of just over $26,000. To me this is a great commuter that doubles as a family car that is economical. We have choices, choose wisely for your need.

General Information: It is assembled in Hiroshima, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 85%   Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Compact. Cars from Mazda: CX 3, CX 5, CX 9, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata.

Handling & Performance:

My Crest Test part of the review was an outstanding experience. I don’t automatically see Mazda as an ultra-capable road warrior, but this CX-3 made me a believer. It handled rather impressively over the challenging mountain course over Angeles Crest highway through the San Gabriel Mountains. It was smooth and met every challenge perfectly. Nice.

Styling:

Very clean contemporary design evidenced not only to my senses but even by inquiries from a couple of youthful drivers who wanted to know what I thought. Most are curious because they like the look. My response was “It really handles and performes very well”…

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Affordable for this 5-passenger AWD commuter.

Conveniences and comfort:

One of the best coverages of safety features of most cars in this segment of the market. In particular the safety features are usually present only on more expensive cars. The features I’m most interested in include Smart Cruise control, Blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and Navigation add a lot to be more comfortable in my travels.

Consumer Recommendations:

We have choices in how we use our financial resources. Brother John opted for Ferrari’s and Corvettes and lots of horses. I don’t recommend that unless you are really lucky. Average Joe’s like me lean more on the practical mode of transportation. Horses and buggies and Ferrari’s hardly fall into my thought process of economy. He did convince me to get a Harley and although I took a couple of interesting falls, it didn’t kill me. Same with the horses that I never owned but loved that quiet mode of transportation in the back country. Going where few will ever go.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX-3 $27,000, Fiat 500 X $28,000, Honda HR-V $27,000, MINI Countryman $29,000.

Good News:

Well priced, good fuel economy (mpg), handles and performs very well.

Bad News:

Range could be better with a larger fuel tank.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 148 hp engine, skyactive drive 6-speed transmission, all-wheel-drive, 4-wheel ABS power assist disc brake system, 18” alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers front and rear, heated power mirrors with turn signal lights, rear roof spoiler, 5 passenger seating, tilt and telescopic steering column, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, power automatic door locks, power windows, leather/suede heated front sport seats, 6-way manual adjustable driver’s seat, tire pressure monitoring, LATCH child safety seat anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert , electrical power steering, front stabilizer bar, LED headlights, daytime running lights, LED fog lights, climate control, active driving display, navigation system, Bose AM/FM /CD,MP3,7-speaker audio system, Aux jack / USB input, Bluetooth hands free phone/audio, 7” color touch screen display, rearview camera, traction control, stability control, hill launch assist, front, side and front and rear side curtain airbags.

Gas Stats:

$2.65/ Gal avg. September 10, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

Combined MPG

Mazda CX-3 – 29 mpg, Fiat 500 X 24 mpg, Honda HR-V – 27 mpg, MINI Countryman – 29 mpg.

28 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,240.

2016 Mazda 6 I (1137)

Overview:

This is the 2016 Mazda 6 I and you will be impressed as I was. This is a fine automobile in a pretty broad lineup of competitors. It is among the most efficient family sedans in entry cost as well as operating costs. There is very little negative commentary, on Mazda products, on the whole.

Older folks will recall that 4-door sedans were a no-no to the youth of the 1960s generation. Those were ‘not cool’ then, but today design has blended the versatility of 4-doors without sacrificing style. The youth of today isn’t as resistant to 4-door cars.

General Information: It is assembled in Hofu, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%   Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Midsize. Cars from Mazda: CX 3, CX 5, CX 9, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata.

Opinion:

Safe Driving is impressed on all who frequent a race track. But professional race drivers have a special need for speed, and it is fulfilled on the track. It is, by any measure, treacherous and dangerous. I have observed friends who ARE pros on the track, tend to be exceptionally good and cautious drivers on public highways. I believe that is because they have such a stressful job on the track, they are content to enjoy off the job driving.

Conversely many non-professional drivers also can have a ‘need for speed’ but haven’t the availability of a race track to get it out of their system. Thus they do their racing on city streets and highways and that is a recipe for disaster.

Case in point is, just this morning, content to avoid the busy freeways, I took one of my alternate routes “over the San Gabriel Mountains” of Southern California to Pasadena. It is a route devoid of traffic and one that gives me a venue to test a cars performance. I wasn’t testing this morning however and when a sport car came up behind me anxious to go ahead, I pulled over to let him pass. He zipped on by and quickly faded into the road ahead of us. I enjoyed the early morning drive without any pressure of traffic congestion. As I came around one corner I was not surprised to find my young friend in a hurry had spun out on a hair pin turn and crashed into the mountain. I stopped to see if he was okay and he was, so at his request I called his dad when I got to where I had cell service.

A race track is more forgiving and if you go off course you don’t’ have to worry about running off a cliff or crashing into a mountain. At least the young man was not racing on a congested highway where he would certainly have involved others in the situation that surely ruined his and his dad’s day.

Handling & Performance:

Very good handling and power in class. Turbo would be nice but with the unwanted tradeoff of poor fuel economy. Today’s 4-cylinder engines deliver more than adequate power for my taste. It is a surprisingly agile performer. On a test track or mountain course it is sure to impress for a family 4-door sedan.

Styling:

Very nice contemporary design.

Fit and Finish:

Very well assembled. I always am gratified how much better made cars of today are. It is an evolution revolution that has eliminated squeaks and groans of yesteryears cars. Nice.

Cost:

Competitive in class

Conveniences and comfort:

Outstanding array of standard features and I particularly like the Blind Spot detection system. I was not as thrilled with the (not-standard feature) adaptive cruise control. It disengages as it slows to 20 mph and that can be disastrous as it fails to brake after that point. A near silent bell sounds to let you know if you don’t brake you will crash. Not good.

Consumer Recommendations:

Mazda has been a consistent performer with very little “Hype” in the form of advertising. Thus it is very high on my list of ones to include in your test drives.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda 6 $31,000, Subaru Legacy $31,000, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $31,000, Volkswagen Passat $31,000, Honda Accord Hybrid $36,000, Kia Optima Hybrid $33,000, Chrysler 200$28,000, Chevrolet Malibu $32,000.

Good News:

Good compliment of standard equipment, smooth ride and good power while delivering very good fuel economy.

Bad News:

Although I’ve listed MSRP for the standard equipment, the test vehicle was equipped with Mazda Radar Cruise as an option (also known as Smart or Adaptive Cruise). I had a problem with the functionality of the option as noted and hope the company will remedy that weakness. Most other competitor’s smart cruise will function in traffic without driver intervention.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 4-cylinder 184 hp engine, Front Wheel Drive, 6-speed auto transmission, 19” alloy wheels, rain sensing windshield wipers, heated power mirrors with turn signals, Rear Spoiler, leather trimmed sport seats, Heated front seat, power windows and locks, leather trimmed sport seats, 8-way power drivers seat, with power lumbar support and seat memory, 6-way power front passenger seat, auto dim review mirror, 7” color touch screen display, Bluetooth hands free phone and audio, rearview camera, keyless entry system, LATCH child safety system, Smart city brake support, tire pressure monitor, Blind spot detection system, 4-wheel disc brakes, power assisted steering, stabilizer bars, auto on/off headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights, power moonroof, active driving display, leather wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls, cruise control, power auto door locks, power windows, USB audio input, dualzone auto climate control with rear seat vents, 60/40 split fold down rear seat, Bose 11 speaker sound system, power ABS brake system with electronic brake force distribution, stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, front, side and front and rear side curtain air bags, rear cross traffic alert.

Gas Stats:

$2.95/ Gal avg. April 17, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

28 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $30,195.

2016 Mazda CX 5 (1121)

Overview:

This is the 2016 Mazda CX 5 Grand Touring AWD. Well it is clear that a company who listens to their customers and reviewing journalists will find favor in their products.

In this case Mazda has been listening as many have been saying the CX-5 crossover needed more power. So we now have 184-hp, 2.5-liter I-4 engine.

For the 2016 model year, the automaker is addressing two other gripes about the CX-5: its dull interior and dated infotainment system. I didn’t happen to share the interior issues with others but must admit I’ve not been happy with the high tech interface. Namely the Nav system and the Bluetooth connectivity. It just isn’t intuitive enough for my taste. I’m not making a big deal of it because my criteria is that it is good if I “don’t” have to look at the operations manual to figure out those things.

General Information: It is assembled in Hiroshima, Japan; Parts – US/Canadian 0%, Japan 95%   Engine and transmission – Japan; Classification is Small SUV. Cars from Mazda: CX 3, CX 5, CX 9, Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6, MX-5 Miata.

Handling & Performance:

No complaints here since this is the perfect size for those in need of a smaller SUV. The power has been increased as noted and is adequate to effectively compete with the small crowd of SUVs in this segment. Personally I don’t mind the smaller engines in some of the competition because the smaller plants employ turbochargers. In fact 6 of those listed are 1.6 to 2.0 liter engines but all 6 are Turbos. I prefer the Turbo but had no problem with performance. It was up to the demands of open road freeway driving.

Styling:

All in class / segment of Small SUVs are very similar in outward appearance. I think they’re all equally good or bad, depending on your taste. Nothing out of the ordinary to write home about these listed below. In my view they are just not all that exciting while not boring either. Simply nice, safe designs that won’t offend anyone. This is the trend in the social order of the day – “Political Correctness” out of control. God forbid we should offend anyone’s sensibilities.

I grew up when men were men and women were women and cars had distinct character. Today everything is uni-sex and uni-design. Sad but I don’t care all that much really. Performance is far more important and if the price of good mileage is a little uniformity I’ll go along with the program and not complain too much.

Fit and Finish:

Boringly perfect. Anyone who has driven cars of the 1950s through 1980s know that assembly techniques are light years ahead of earlier year cars.

Actually large or wide gaps were necessary in olden day cars and trucks. It was the only way to keep different components from rubbing together. It didn’t help all that much and thus squeeks and rattles were a common sound then. That’s where the term a bucket of bolts came from.

Cost:

Cars today are unbelievably well priced and this Mazda is no exception. Again, relative to cars from prior eras, today’s cars can be considered bargains.

Conveniences and comfort:

In this segment all are very similar in their compliment of high tech essentials. Not all, but most have the Bluetooth hands free feature and by the way it is a must in today’s world. Keyless entry and push button start are both essentials in my book and I suspect eventually all will have the feature. Other important elements include cruise control, blind spot detection and rear view cameras for safety.

Consumer Recommendations:

In the field of options this Mazda falls right behind the Kia and Hyundai (same company), and Subaru. Subaru is the king of AWD vehicles and Kia and Hyundai are my favorite picks. They also have the best warranty of all in class.

Recognized Competition:

Mazda CX 5 $30,000, Subaru Forester $30,000, Hyundai Tucson $31,000, Kia Sportage $30,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $28,000, Nissan Rogue $30,000, Volkswagen Tiguan $32,000, Ford Escape $31,000, Lincoln MKC $34,000, Jeep Patriot $25,000.

Good News:

Good value, quality and comfort.

Bad News:

Electronics not to my liking / Nav and Bluetooth are not as user friendly as I think is necessary and many others are better.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 4-cylinder 184 hp engine, All Wheel Drive, auto transmission, 19” alloy wheels, fixed intermittent rear wiper, rain sensing windshield wipers, heated power mirrors with turn signals, tilt and telescopic steering column, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls, power windows and locks, leather trimmed sport seats, 8-way power drivers seat, manual passenger seat lifter, heated front seats, keyless entry system, electronic parking brake, LATCH child safety seat anchors, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, blind spot monitor, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, electric power assisted steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, rear privacy glass, auto headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights, roof spoiler with shark fin antenna, power moon roof, push button engine start, dual zone auto climate control, Bose AM/FM/CD/MP3/ Satellite HD Radio, auxiliary jack, 2-USB ports, Bluetooth hands free phone/ Audio, 7: color touch screen display, multi-function commander control, rear view camera, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, 40/20/40 split fold down rear seat, rear seat center armrest, rear cross traffic alert, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill assist, front, side and front and rear side curtain air bags.

Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. January 5, 2016

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

24 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,470.