Say hello to Grace. This elegant, nay, graceful lady is a Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Crossover, and I had the pleasure of her company on my trip to Roseville, Minnesota, to tour the Twin Cities and the Minnesota State Fair.
Grace was on loan through a company called Driveshop. They provide vehicles to influencers a week at a time so we can experience them firsthand. Driveshop was the company that delivered Mae, the Kia Sorento we drove on our trip to San Diego and back, so I was already familiar with them. Now, after two incredible experiences, you'll be reading their name more often as I explore road trip vehicles.
I took my drivers license test in my mom's RX-7 (with manual transmission AND steering - try parallel parking in that) and spent my high school years ferrying my friends around in the speedy sportster, so I've always had a soft spot for Mazdas. One look inside the CX-5, however, and I knew that things had changed a bit since the mid-'80s. I loved that sports car, but it wasn't the best vehicle for a road trip. The CX-5, however, definitely is.
As Mazda's medium-sized crossover, the CX-5 Grand Touring is not too big and not too small. This particular model had back seats that folded down and a roomy compartment in the back. I like to name the vehicles I drive, since they're such a part of the road trip experience. After driving her a few miles, one name kept popping into my head: Grace.
To get the true road trip experience, I cut across the Mississippi River at La Crosse and drove the Great River Road up to Roseville. On the way back, after a quick overnight in Madison, Wisconsin, I took a quick trip to New Glarus. I was going to test this lady and see if she lived up to her name.
She did. Grace was subtle, and stately, and she handled the road, well, gracefully. Under the hood was a 187-hp, SKYACTIV® 2-G 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with VVT, 6-speed automatic transmission, SKYACTIVE-VEHICLE DYNAMICS with G-Vectoring Control, and i-ACTIV AWD all-wheel drive. Honestly, I have no idea what most of that means, but it translated into a super smooth ride.
Her exterior, as you can see above, was gorgeous. Gone are the days of boxy SUVs. Now they're much more sleek and aerodynamic. Even though more than half of the 800 miles I put on Grace were back roads, I still averaged 29MPG.
Inside, she had all the bells and whistles. Push button start, heated seats (which I didn't need, but good to know they were available), moonroof, navigation, hands-free Bluetooth, leather seats and steering wheel, lumbar support, and SiriusXM were just some of her creature comforts.
Driving along with the moonroof open and singing along to Stevie Wonder? Heaven. (And my apologies to fellow travelers who might have heard my warbles.)
Photo courtesy of Mazda. While I did take a scenic drive, I was nowhere near any mountains. Next time...
All of this is lovely, but what really impressed me about Grace was how easy she was to drive. I'm not just talking about the way she handled the road, which was, as I've mentioned, graceful. What differentiated the Mazda CX-5 was the tools that enhanced the driving experience.
The first tool that really impressed me was the radar cruise control. As soon as I hit I-90 I set that baby, and despite running into normal traffic on the way to Rockford, I didn't have to touch the brakes or accelerator. If a car three lengths in front of me was going slower than I was, Grace slowed down. It was often imperceptible and I wouldn't realize it until I noticed my speed dropping on the heads up display (more on that later). I'd move into the left lane and she'd gradually speed up. Now, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to driving, so at first I was hesitant to use this function, but I knew I could turn it off if it was annoying. It wasn't, and it made several hours in the car much easier to handle.
There's a danger that this kind of tool will lull you into a false sense of security. No worries - Grace wouldn't let that happen. If I got too close to the yellow line, she'd start shaking like we were driving on rumble strips. And if someone was in my blind spot? With her proximity sensors there was no blind spot. They'd light up and would flat out yell at me if I tried to move into an already-occupied lane.
Another automated tool was the windshield wipers. I ran into clusters of rain on the way back and noticed an "Auto" setting. It worked! It stopped when the clouds cleared and restarted when the rain began again, and I didn't have to touch a thing.
All of the above made for an enhanced and comfortable driving experience, and one more feature made this an exceptional road trip vehicle. This was her HUD, or heads up display. If you've not used one of these before, it's an informational screen that's displayed on the windshield just above the dashboard. Mazda packed so much information into that tiny screen you'd think it would take up the entire windshield. In addition to speed, it also displayed:
- Navigation (i.e. Turn left in 1.3 miles)
- Cruise speed setting
- Actual cruise speed (if the radar kicked in)
- Whether there was a vehicle in front of you. This would change colors depending on how close you were.
- and a little stop sign that appears when you approach an intersection where a stop is required.
All of the above allowed me to keep my eyes on the road.
I was solo on this trip so I didn't have a chance to test out the back seats, but I was gone for five days with lots of travel-writing related equipment in addition to my suitcase and the CX-5 was a great size. I had the pleasure of Grace's company for a couple of days when I got back home, and after putting the back seat down, two bikes fit nicely.
The only thing I didn't like about Grace was giving her back! If you're looking for a comfortable, smooth, and graceful vehicle that's suited for both day-to-day errands and your next road trip, check out the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Crossover.