Despite a fun-to-toss-around chassis, the 2013 Mazda CX-5's 155-hp 2.0-liter I-4 with 150 lb-ft of torque was met with criticism for its lack of grunt. Mazda answered critics' cries for more power with an available 2.5-liter Skyactiv I-4 for 2014. While we've found the new powerplant engaging during brief drives, we took an all-wheel-drive 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.5 on an 1800-mile road trip to evaluate the crossover's newfound power and fuel economy.
Although the 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine's 184 hp and 185 lb-ft, isn't neck-snapping, it addresses the previous acceleration issues. On our road trip north from Southern California to the Rocky Mountains, the 2.5-liter was less buzzy than the 2.0-liter engine during our 2013 First Drive, while the extra 29 hp and 35 lb-ft reduced the number of downshifts when climbing mountain summits. None of Mazda's sporty zoom-zoom DNA is lost with the Grand Touring model's addition of power, as it's shod with 19-inch alloy wheels, and tackles winding roads more like a sports car than a compact crossover.
Despite the noticeable horsepower bump, the 2.5-liter engine only takes a minor fuel economy hit. Rated 24/30 mpg city/highway with the 2.5-liter engine, a six-speed automatic, and all-wheel-drive is rated just 1/1 mpg city/highway less than the 2.0-liter engine with the same drivetrain.
On the first leg of the trip -- about 670 miles -- with the cruise control set about 10 mph above posted speed limits (some limits as high as 80 mph), the 2014 Mazda CX-5's 2.5-liter returned 26.1 mpg. Elevation changes took us from sea level to as high as 6600 feet before reaching our destination at about 4500 feet. Over the course of 1791 miles, the CX-5 GT 2.5 AWD averaged 26.4 mpg with the highest leg averaging 31.0 mpg and the lowest leg averaging 23.7 mpg.
Those who rode in the CX-5 were impressed with the styling, ride, and front and rear room as well as the cargo area. Although we haven't tested an all-wheel-drive model with the 2.5-liter, a front-drive 2014 CX-5 GT accelerated from 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, a 1.4-second improvement over a front-drive 2013 CX-5 with a six-speed automatic.
The 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine gives the 2014 Mazda CX-5 the power it needs without giving up much in terms of fuel economy. In Japan, Mazda offers the CX-5 with a 2.2-liter Skyactiv diesel that makes around 170 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Although the Skyactiv diesel has only been confirmed for the Mazda6 sedan, it hasn't been confirmed for the CX-5 in the U.S. If the diesel does make it to the CX-5, it could add more passing power while improving fuel economy. But until then, the 2.5-liter is the one to get if you want a Mazda compact crossover with more grunt than the 2014 CX-5 Sport's 2.0-liter I-4 can provide.