Car Reviews

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Review

2016 Mazda CX-5 Review

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

Also, one of the cool things about testing out this Mazda, was that upon receiving the vehicle, we were provided with a $25 charitable gift card redeemable at OneOC.org/givingcards to donate to the charity of our choice. The Mazda Drive for Good charitable program has helped raise more than $7.6 million and has resulted in over 120,000 charitable service hours pledged since 2013.

Mazda Drive for Good

Given that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is a food blog, we chose Food & Friends. The organization is dedicated to helping men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling. What does that entail exactly? They deliver meals year-round, six days a week (including holidays) and since inception have delivered 18 million meals to over 26,000 individuals. Thus, the impact is huge, but they can’t do it without volunteers and generous donations! To learn how you can help, visit their website for more info.

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2016 Mazda CX-5

Full disclosure: I owned a Mazda for almost a decade. Does that create bias? Maybe. Does that also create some higher-than-normal expectations. Maybe. So, everything should balance out…

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $32,340
MPG Estimate: 24 city – 30 highway
Engine:  2.5L Skyactiv, DOHC 4 cylinder
Power:  184 hp @ 5,700 rpm  | 185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Titanium Flash Mica
Options:  Grand Touring Technology Package (Navigation System, Smart City Brake Support, LED headlights with auto leveling, Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED fog lights, LED daytime running lights, LED combination tail lights and auto-dimming mirror)

For more info, click here to view the 2016 CX-5 Brochure.

Amenities

The entertainment system works really well, keeping in mind it does take some time to get familiar with navigating through everything. So, it’s not quite as initially intuitive as others, but I easily learned what I needed within a few days of driving. No biggie for a car you’ll keep for a decade.

2016 Mazda CX-5

Voice commands also worked easily for making calls and entering addresses for the navigation system.

In my opinion, a huge plus is the fact that the Grand Touring comes standard with a Bose sound system (it’s also optional in the Touring trim). I love me some Bose. I’ve got a pair of Bose computer speakers that can shake our house. So, needless to say the system in the CX-5 is plenty good enough to rock out, hip hop, or blast whatever your preference is.

Comfort

Although the seats were comfortable, the ride is a bit harsh, but that’s the trade off you get for some of the zoom zoom that’s discussed later.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The A/C was decently cold and I only bring that up, because my old Mazda’s only fault was its air conditioning. Quite the testament to how much I enjoyed that car, as I spent nearly a decade enduring long, sweat-filled summer commutes. This car was a sweat-free zone. Except when I took that one hairpin turn at 80 MPH. Kidding. Or am I?

Oh and not sure if you’re into safety, but the 2016 CX-5 was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which means this car could save your life. Especially during those 80 MPH hairpin turns. KIDDING. Drive safely.

Performance

This is quite a deceiving little SUV. First impressions would likely lead one to believe that this little go-getter is a suburbanite’s dream, ready for trips to big box warehouse stores, home improvement shops for weekend warriors, and carting the little ones (two and four legged) around town. But honestly, all that stuff seems to bore the CX-5. Not that it won’t do all that stuff well, but it seems to do the chores almost begrudgingly.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 yearns to stretch its legs and search for winding roads, rural scenary, and areas where there might not be a road at all. During our time with the CX-5, the most fun we had was exploring the curvy roads on our way to visit Potomac Point Winery, and soaring across a grassy field, escaping the hellacious parking situation of a just ended Renaissance Festival.

I really wish we had some snowfall to play with like in this video.

Oh, and the gas mileage. Was it good? Well, for an AWD compact utility vehicle, I was pretty happy with our average of 26.8 MPG. That included five days of commuting to and from work (32 miles round trip) along with two longer trips with mostly highway.

Because of the nature of this car, my only complaint on the performance is the lack of a little more umph. And sure it might be gratuitous, especially for those who want to retain the solid gas mileage, but oh the fun you could have with a turbo-charged MazdaSpeed CX-5…

Smashing Good Looks

Co-workers and neighbors were happy to compliment the looks of the CX-5. The light Parchment color interior was noted on more than one occasion to be sexy. Also, the Titanium Flash Mica exterior made the car look almost like a mini-tank, which was cool. B-Y-O-Rocket Launcher.

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And personally, upgrading to the Grand Touring model is worth it for the wheels alone.

Who Should Buy This Car

This might be the car for you if you need a little more suburban hauling capacity, but you’re not ready to sacrifice the handling of a smaller vehicle. You might want to check this car out if you enjoy taking weekend trips off the beaten paths and you’d rather take the long way versus a highway. And in all honesty, I was very close to purchasing this vehicle a couple months ago. Had it not been for our dog’s extreme fear of change and anything remotely resembling an SUV, I might own one right now.

cx5 (6)

Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own and I seriously almost bought this vehicle. 

More care reviews…

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Car Reviews

2015 Kia Optima SX Review

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Kia, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveKia.

I didn’t really know much about Kia before driving this Optima. I did notice that a ton of people in our neighborhood have Kia Optimas. Like, a ton. And after getting to know this car for a week, I completely understand why.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $31,310
MPG Estimate: 23 city – 34 highway
Engine:  2.4L Gas Direct Injection, 4 cylnders
Power:  192 hp @ 6300 rpm | 181 ft-lbs @ 4250 rpm
Transmission:  6-speed Sportmatic Transmission
Color:  Remington Red
Options:  SX Premium Technology Package (power folding mirrors, Infinity audio system, UVO Service w/ Telematics, HD radio technology, Navigation with SiriusXM, rear camera, blind spot detection system, driver’s seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, power front passenger’s seat, heated outboard rear seats, and back-up warning system)

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Comfort

The seats are really comfortable. REALLY comfortable. Surprisingly comfortable, even. Here’s a challenge: Put on a blind fold and go sit in this car along with three other luxury brands. I bet it’ll be tough to tell which one’s the Kia.

And on top of seats that are luxury-quality comfortable, they’re also cooled. Yes, cooled seats. On a hot day, they’re basically like an ice cold lemonade for your back and butt. Weird metaphor, but accurate.

Ventilated Seats Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Amenities

The UVO entertainment system is a really well-designed and user-friendly system that looks good, is intuitive, and WORKS. I’ve come to expect most voice-comand functions in cars have a 50% success rate. I was able to easily add a new destination to the navigation on the first try. You’ve been warned, Siri.

And the mirrors fold in and out automatically. Which I suppose is functional for tight parking spots, but it just also looks cool and made me feel like I was driving a spaceship.

Performance

190 horsepower and 181 ft-lbs of torque provide plenty of get-up-and-go to get you around, but aren’t so much that you’ll be living at the gas station. Our average gas mileage over the course of the week was 25.5 MPG, which isn’t that bad (if you want better mileage, then check out the hybrid version). Personally, I’d take the extra juice if it meant spending a bit more at the tank.

Steering feel and handling are a tad looser and not quite as responsive as I prefer, but others may take that sacrifice for the softer ride. I missed some of the nimbleness that my 2006 compact car has, but the Optima is quite a bit larger.

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Food Friendliness

Often an overlooked aspect of vehicles, a lot can be said for a car that is really comfortable to eat in. Sometimes you need a quick, quiet, and comfortable place to escape from the insanity of work/school/your own children. Enter the Kia Optima.

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

With the seat reclined and moved back, the center console made for a nice counter to hold a sandwich. In fact, I recommend using one of the memory seat positions for “lunch mode”. Did I mention the seats were comfortable?

(BTW – You can see more interior car/eating pics in our review of McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich.)

The cabin is also spacious, so I’m sure that somehow prevents you from accidentally bumping your elbow on something and spilling ketchup on your white button-up shirt.

Who Should Buy This Car

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

This is definitely going to sound like standard commercial copywriting, but if you want luxury amenities at an affordable price, then you should give a hard look at this car. Although the MSRP tops out at about $31k, nobody actually pays MSRP. In fact, internet prices for the same version of this car, WITH THE TURBO ENGINE (274 hp and 269 ft-lbs of torque) is about $27,000. That’s almost ridiculous, especially when comparable luxury vehicles would easily double the price tag. Overall, this was a fine car. A fine car, indeed.

And for what it’s worth, Kia ranked #2 in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study. Yup, Kia was right behind Porsche and just ahead of Jaguar.

Gratuitous Dog Pictures

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Kia Optima Review #DriveKia

Disclaimer:  As noted above, we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Kia. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

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Car Reviews

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC Review

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mitsubishi Motors, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMitsubishi.

This is a companion post to our trip to Red Truck Bakery in Marshall,VA. For delicious baked goods in a small town, check out that post. If you’re interested in the wheels that got us there, you’re in the right place.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Thanks in part to The Fast and the Furious franchise, my teenage memories of Mitsubishi cars are comprised mainly of street racing Eclipses and Lancer Evolutions. Not being a street racer and also not being in the market for a new car over the last decade, I haven’t really paid much attention to what Mitsubishi has been up to, so I was interested in the opportunity to try out the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC.

Specs

MSRP (as tested):  $29,645
MPG Estimate: 24 city – 29 highway
Engine:  2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-valve, 4 cylnders
Power:  166 hp @ 6000 rpm  | 162 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm
Transmission:   CVT
Color:  Rally Red
Options:  SE Premium Package (sunroof, leather seats, roof rails, 710w Rockford Fosgate sound system, power remote tailgate, power driver’s seat, woodgrain interior trim panels)

Comfort

The comfort and driving position of the front seats were good, which made commuting a little easier than my 2006 manual transmission compact car. Although we didn’t travel too far, I wouldn’t anticipate any issues with taking the Outlander on a long road trip. Since I did all the driving, I didn’t have to sit in the back, but my co-workers commented that the rear seats were a little stiff for their liking.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Overall, the interior is quite spacious, which gives the feeling you’re in a much larger SUV. In fact, with all of the second and third row seats folded down, I could easily lie down and take a nap on my lunch break. Not that I did that.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Amenities

The entertainment system is probably due for an upgrade, but it was easy to use (which is sometimes lacking in the newer, more complex systems in other brands). The Rockford Fosgate speaker system sounds incredible thanks to the nine speaker system, including 10 inch subwoofer in the back.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

It was also easy to fall in love with the optional remote power lift gate. Emphasis on the remote part. Sometimes I opened the lift gate for fun, just because I could. It made trips to the grocery store and Costco slightly more exciting.

Although we did not take advantage of the third row of seats, it was actually beneficial on those aforementioned trips, as the seat backs helped keep our groceries from flying all over the place, while I tested out the vehicle’s cornering ability (well-within all applicable traffic laws, of course).

And as is becoming the norm with most mid and upper trim levels, a backup camera and heated seats are standard on this trim level. A week later left me wondering how on earth I was ever able to own a car without a backup camera and heated seats.

Performance

First of all, you won’t see this car in Fast & Furious 8 (or 9 or whatever they’re up to now). But that’s okay, because you’ll buy this car for the gas mileage. My daily commute, which is a 33-mile round trip mixture of highway, stop-and-go traffic, and dance parties (thanks, Rockford Fosgate!), consistently returned gas mileage around 25 MPG. Our mostly-highway trip to Red Truck Bakery resulted in a respectable 28.8 MPG, which easily rivals my my 2006 compact car. Although acceleration from a stop leaves something to be desired, throwing the shifter into sport mode provides ample juice for a lane change at highway speeds.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

I was also impressed with the steering feel and handling, as this vehicle drives more like a car than a compact SUV. I’m not a fan of loose steering (reminds me of driving a boat), so I was pleasantly surprised to still feel the road in a vehicle of this size.

Dog Friendliness

Given that this is an SUV, this is likely a great vehicle for anyone with a decent-sized dog. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of opening the power lift gate in front of Cooper. And since any inanimate object that moves on its own completely BLOWS HIS MIND, he was convinced that the car was possessed and wanted nothing to do with it. Again, it was through no fault of the Outlander and completely Coop’s own neuroscis (he also growls at bags floating in the wind). Sad, because he would’ve fit perfectly in the back, but a good reminder for dog owners to always have new vehicle purchases approved by their pups.

Who Should Buy This Car?

This vehicle would be perfect for a price-conscious consumer with kids and a need for a third row of seats. The MSRP is $29,645, but online prices at some local dealerships are closer to $25,000 for Outlanders with similar MSRPs–which seems almost insane when you think about how much vehicle you’re getting. Plus, the 10-year / 100,000-mile power train warranty and solid gas mileage will help keep future costs down. I should also mention that the 2016 Outlander has hit dealers this month, so any remaining 2015 vehicles are likely to garner some significant savings. Haven’t had a chance to try 2016’s model yet, but from what I keep hearing, there are quite a few improvements over the 2015 model.

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander SE S-AWC

Disclaimer:  As noted above (you did read the whole post, right?!) we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mitsubishi. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. As always, all opinions remain our own.

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