Ownership Verified: Miata Isn't Always The Answer - Rick's 2023 Mazda CX-5 Premium


has a fetish for terrible cars
Nov 28, 2009
Yoe, PA
2012 Kia Forte EX
Whelp, after the Kia started having repetitive electrical issues occuring more and more frequently, I decided it was time to pull the trigger on a replacement.
The fact that I need to plan for a future where my mom who has mobility issues may be living with me influenced my decision to lean toward a compact crossover. From the beginning I was interested in the CX-5 because, by most accounts, it's the benchmark option in the segment for both driving engagement and a premium feel. I did consider other options like Tiguan, Taos, Corolla Cross and Rav4 but by the time I configured them with the features I wanted they were very expensive. I didn't want a 2024 after they announced the changes for it - all the trims save for Carbon are now monochromatic in nature with all the plastic trim painted body color and I prefer the contrast that the black trim provides. Plus Mazda was offering 4.9% financing for 60 months.

So, without further ado, here it is, my new CX-5 Premium!



Some lament Mazda for having a lot of trims these days, but IMO I like it because it allows you to get features you want w/out needing to get the highest end Signature trim. Initially I wanted a Preferred trim (2 trim levels up from base) because it honestly is the best value of the CX-5 lineup but the chip shortage has made finding a Preferred with Bose very difficult....so much so that they axed the feature on Preferred for 2024. They were giving people a Bose audio credit but by many accounts, you really want to go for the Bose if possible with a CX-5 - a uplevel audio system was a requirement for me regardless of my car choice though because I love music.

With a dearth of Preferreds with Bose on the ground, I invited @LP to join me for a evening of car shopping: Long story short...we compared a car with Bose and a car without Bose, my salesperson was uhhh eccentric and, while friendly, did dumb shit to hype me up like crank up both the bass and treble on both cars and max out the volume which didn't help my decision making. They also offered me only 500 dollars for the Kia. The sales guy wasn't thrilled that I wasn't going to make a decision that night because i didn't want a black car and the carbon has black wheels which i hate - I asked him to source a Red Preferred and we bid our adeaus and left for a post dealer Wawa run/discussion where many calculations were made.

I then had a change of heart and was like.....ya know LP and the rest of the FG crew are right....I should buy what I truly want. So I emailed and asked for a OTD price on the Premium I wanted initially. I got the quote and it was acceptable - i countered their $500 trade in quote with a 1400 quote from Carmax and they came up to 1k - done deal! I picked up the car the next afternoon!

The Soul Red really pops and I'm super glad I stuck to my guns and got it - I need to get PPF applied to the hood, bumper, and mirrors because Soul Red chips easily though. The Parchment interior color combo is also something I'm glad I chose as it, combined with the sunroof, results in a airy and bright cabin - I do wish there was less piano black though...there's not a lot but just enough to know it'll look like shit unless i matte wrap it at some point.:



The thing that stands out to me is just how refined and upscale this car feels both to drive and from a fit, finish, and materials perspective. For a mid-trim model of a car launched for the 2017 model year, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that it's that "well proven," undoubtedly due to the way Mazda has continuously updated this generation of CX-5 over the years. The infotainment especially, upgraded to the latest Mazda system in 2021, helps a lot from a modern feel standpoint. It works well and I've gotten used to using the Commander knob for functionality since there's no touchscreen with the "new" system until 2024 for the CX-5:


The Bose system seems to have been significantly upgraded with the 2021 update and a lot of reviewers are pleased. It does sound good and I'm enjoying listening to music on it for sure! Other parts of the Premium trim have been cool to experience as well like the adaptive headlights, upgraded gauge cluster, and paddle shifters. I've been getting used to modern day car features like proximity key and a smartphone app.

The app works pretty well....i've had one hiccup with it but that could be a issue with my phone switching back to my wi-fi while outside...

So, how does it drive? Well it's no supercar but it's nice and composed - the ride is a bit firmer than other CUV's in the class but the car handles well especially when pushed a bit, I could tell the grip from the AWD comes in handy. There's at least a bit of feedback coming through the wheel as well so it's not like a complete video game which is very much appreciated and I've enjoyed driving it on back roads in manual mode to get the 600 break in miles in. I do like the independent rear suspension - the CX-50 rubbed me the wrong way with the idea of a twist beam in a car this expensive....that and I was hoping to get away from that suspension setup due to the way my Kia with it handled bumps especially mid corner.

Here's what's powering the hopefully trusty steed, Mazda's ubiquitous 2.5L non turbo 4 paired to their Skyactiv AT 6 speed slushbox:


187 horsepower - 186 pound-feet of torque isn't a lot but Honestly? Power wise, I have no complaints. I haven't romped on it because again, break in, but the salesperson and I did in the carbon and it was more than enough for me...it feels leagues more responsive than the Forte. The autobox is pretty good and, personally, i don't need more than 6 speeds esp if one is inclined to use the manual mode which I have been doing to keep the revs varied during break in.

Autobox lever with proof pic:

So what's next? Hopefully years of reliable and fun driving! I hope to get through the break in period - I have 352 more miles to go of varying engine speeds (yet not revving it out too much......i'm keeping it at 4k and under) and not using ACC before it should be all set. I'm just happy I'm able to get something that I legitimately wanted for once w/out being under duress - I was able to take my time!

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Congrats for picking something cool in the best colour! Also, good call with the paint protection: I drove a demo MX-30 in the same colour and the hood already looked terrible.
Nice car and lovely colour, the red with the black trim works really well. I like the subtle yet stylish design, it's a little less "dime a dozen" than most cars today but without being too much in your face (I hope I'm making sense:ROFLMAO: ).

I don't mind a bit of piano black details, but I don't get it either why for some reason it gets used all over the interior these days. After only 2,5months/4500km of use my Isuzu D-max work car/truck's interior is already pretty scratched. It doesn't help that apart from a car it is also my office, break room and mobile storage locker.
Apart from the scratches the piano black on the centre console is also very reflective, I've been blinded by the sun hitting my centre console at an angle multiple times already.
It’s no dodge challenger, but it’ll do. :)
Great colour! Congrats!! Hope you have many years of fun and reliability with it!

Well sure. But you weren’t around when I met up with Rick and I had a rental dodge challenger.

He fondled the dash and that’s when I learned why he has the forum title of „finalgear‘s dash stroking whore.“. 😁
! That's gorgeous. Good color. Congrats!
Great colour indeed. :)

Driving a Mazda for some years now, I find it curious that you describe them as "premium feel". Perhaps they have stepped up their game...?
Thanks everyone for the well wishes! Means a lot!

Well sure. But you weren’t around when I met up with Rick and I had a rental dodge challenger.

He fondled the dash and that’s when I learned why he has the forum title of „finalgear‘s dash stroking whore.“. 😁

:ROFLMAO: It was niiiiice what can I say!?

Great colour indeed. :)

Driving a Mazda for some years now, I find it curious that you describe them as "premium feel". Perhaps they have stepped up their game...?

They have - they tiptoed into premium years ago but have really taken it seriously in the past couple of years. I know in the states, mainstream car quality is a lower bar compared to European expectations but by many accounts Mazda has the best interior in the segments in which they compete. After spending time in most competitors leading up to this purchase, I can agree.

Some come close like the new Rogue/Qashqai/Outlander but there's little details in the Mazda that put it above the others - french stitching on the doors and dashboard, soft touch materials that are consistent between the front and rear doors which is a rarity in the mainstream compact segment here, stitched and padded segments of the console where your knees might hit, the feel of the window switches, the doors closing and other ancillary controls. Fit and Finish in terms of the exterior of the car, paintwork, etc is, so far, exemplary save for a hood that may be slightly misaligned...something I hope to verify in the light of day and get adjusted during the adjustments period of the warranty.

They're aiming for near-luxury and I think they're doing a great job of it. The new rear drive cars like CX-90 are supposed to raise the bar even further - if you get the chance to check out a CX-60 you may be surprised at how nice it is.

EDIT: They do still have some work to do - the current keyfob is a blatent Volvo dupe but with shittier quality - it should be wrapped in a faux leather IMO vs the cheap plastic they currently use.
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