Archive for Mazda

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on February 6, 2019 by itnerd

The interior of the Mazda CX-5 Signature is one that will humble the interiors of a lot of luxury cars. Let me walk you through it and you’ll see why I feel that way.

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A nice touch is the fact that the door wraps around the bottom of the door frame. That way, your pants don’t get dirty.

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The door has a mix of stitched Nappa leather, Abachi wood trim that is very classy. The window and mirror controls have a piano black finish around them that looks very upscale.

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You can see the stitching, Nappa leather, and Abachi wood trim on the left.

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The drivers seat is made of Nappa leather and is heated and cooled. It’s 10-way power-adjustable as well. It is comfortable to sit in, but for a 6 foot tall guy like me, it could use a  bit more length for long thighs. You also get two memory settings as well.

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The cockpit has a dead pedal for long drives and the pedals are easy to modulate. All the controls fall to hand easily.

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The steering wheel is heated and is on the chunky side. My wife who has small hands found it a bit too big for her. I found it to be fine. Your mileage may vary. Redundant controls for the infotainment system and the controls for the cruise control are on the steering wheel.

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The left and right gauges are real. The center gauge is a TFT screen that you can customize to display to the information that you want to see.

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Audio is supplied by an amazing 10 speaker system made by Bose. More on that tomorrow.

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There’s a 7″ color touchscreen display on the top of the dash.

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The HVAC controls are below the touchscreen. There’s also a cubby that fits my iPhone XS.

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The shifter is leather wrapped. To the left of that is the sport mode switch. Below that is the electronic parking brake and the switch to hold the CX-5 Signature on a hill. To the right of that is the HMI Commander Switch that controls the infotainment system. There’s a piano black finish that is a bit of a fingerprint and dust magnet though when it is clean it looks very upscale.

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There are two cupholders that hold a Venti sized Starbucks coffee with ease.

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There’s a storage cubby that doubles as an armrest. It has a removable shelf, two USB ports and a 12V outlet.

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There’s a frameless rear view mirror that provides a lot more real estate to see what’s behind you.

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The foot well is lit which adds a touch of class.

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The glove box is also lit and is decently sized.

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There’s a power moonroof with a manual sunshade.

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The rear seat sits two comfortably. Three might be a bit of a stretch. The seats are heated.

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There’s a HVAC vent for the back seat passengers.

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The middle seat has a panel that has two cupholders, two USB ports, and the controls for the heated seats.

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The CX-5 Signature has 40-20-40 folding seats that give you a mostly flat cargo area and a whole lot of flexibility.

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But with the seats up there’s loads of space. Our weekly shopping fit in her with tons fo space left over.

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You can flip the seats down using this handle. There is one on each side of the cargo area of the CX-5 Signature.

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Also in the cargo area is a 12V outlet. Handy for tailgating.

Overall the interior is first class in every way possible. Mazda really did a great job putting the interior together as it it really impresses anyone who sees it. I should also note that there’s very good vision in every direction for the driver. No rattles, squeaks, or other annoyances were noted during my week with the CX-5 Signature.

Tomorrow I will talk about the technology in the CX-5 Signature. Stay tuned for that.

 

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Review: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on February 5, 2019 by itnerd

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This is the 2.5l turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that powers the Mazda CX-5 Signature. It puts out 227 horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque. But if you use premium instead of regular fuel, it puts out 250 horsepower. The torque remains the same. Now this engine combined with a 6 speed automatic transmission will move this CX-5 Signature in ways that will blow your mind. Acceleration is beyond brisk whether it’s off the line or you need more power to pass a transport truck on the highway. And not once this week did I ever touch the sport mode switch as I had no need for it.

The six speed transmission that’s mated to this engine is well sorted and always seems to be in the right gear to power all four wheels. In fact the iActiv AWD system is one reason in my opinion that the CX-5 Signature is able to get the power to the road. Not to mention it will keep you on the straight and narrow when driving in inclement weather. Handling is one area where Mazda definitely improved things on the CX-5 Signature. There’s less body roll in the CX-5 Signature and it is extremely nimble. Likely because Mazda brings G-Vectoring Control Plus to the party as it helps you to carve corners like you’re on rails. The ride is solid without beating you up. And the steering, which for the record was already good is sharper and more direct. In short, this is the best handing and driving compact crossover that you can get without paying a visit to Germany. You can legitimately take the CX-5 Signature and carve corners on some back roads and have some real fun like you were driving an MX-5 as it is approaching that level of handling.

In terms of fuel economy, I am currently getting 10L per 100 KMs which is decent as I am driving in city and highway traffic, most of which is in rush hour, and I am making no attempt to drive in any way that saves fuel.

Tomorrow I will discuss the interior which can be described in two words: “Class Above.” Tune in tomorrow to find out why.

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on February 4, 2019 by itnerd

Mazda has had the top end Signature trim level for the last year or so in the form of the CX-9 and Mazda6. It brings a top end interior, some unique tech, and a great engine. Now Mazda has brought the Signature trim level to their compact crossover which is the CX-5.

 

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Now there arena changes externally. It’s still that Kodo design language that makes the CX-5 stand out in a market where a lot of the vehicles out there kind of look the same. The red paint job (soul red crystal metallic to be precise) really adds to the fact that the CX-5 is a standout in this segment.

My review of the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature is made up of five parts:

  • Exterior
  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

The next part of this review will cover the engine, transmission and driving comfort. Spoiler alert: This is an insanely great vehicle to drive. Tune in tomorrow to find out why I say that.

The IT Nerd Award For The Best Car Of 2018 Goes To: 2018 Mazda6 Signature

Posted in Products with tags on December 19, 2018 by itnerd

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I’ve always considered the Mazda6 to be the best mid sized car out there. It has excellent handling, great fuel economy, and great looks inside and out. Though I have heard complaints from some who wished there was a V6 under the hood as they could not get past the normally aspirated 4 cylinder engine that was in the vehicle. Well, Mazda in 2018 solved that by taking the turbo 4 cylinder engine that came as part of the CX-9 and dropped into the Mazda6 to really put the “sport” in the phrase sport sedan. If that wasn’t enough, they came up with a new trim level called “Signature” which took a really good interior and improved upon it so much that it now rivals what luxury car makers can offer. In short, the Mazda6 is not only a deserving winner of the IT Nerd Award for the best car of the year, but it now has to be on your shopping list if you are in the market for a mid sized car.

In Depth: Mazda’s Implementation Of Android Auto And Apple CarPlay

Posted in Products with tags on November 26, 2018 by itnerd

Mazda first pledged support for CarPlay back in 2014. And they have been listed as a CarPlay partner on Apple’s CarPlay website since shortly after CarPlay first debuted. But the company never actually released a CarPlay-compatible vehicle. You can mostly copy and paste that statement for Android Auto as well. And I have to imagine that this is a significant distraction for Mazda as customers were likely asking them about when support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay would be coming. I certainly got my fair share of Tweets and emails every time I reviewed a Mazda product on this topic. Fortunately for both Mazda and yours truly, this changed a couple of months ago when Mazda started to roll out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto beginning with the 2019 Mazda CX-9 and to other Mazda vehicles.

Now Mazda is all about centering everything around the driver. Mazda Connect embodies this belief as I consider it to be one of the best infotainment systems out there. It allows you to interact the car with minimal distractions. As far as Mazda is concerned, there are three main types of driving distractions:

  • Cognitive: taking the mind off of driving.
  • Visual: taking the eyes off of the road.
  • Manual: taking the hands off of the wheel.

With that in mind, Mazda designed Mazda Connect to do the following:

Minimize Cognitive Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Information is presented to the driver in two separate zones with Driving Information presented in front of the driver.
  • Driver Benefit: If an safety alert occurs, the driver knows immediately where to look.

Minimize Visual Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Position frequently viewed displays to minimize glance angles and focus times.
  • Driver Benefit: With minimal glance angles and focus times, the driver reduces the amount of time their eyes are not focused on the road ahead.

Minimize Manual Distraction:

  • Mazda’s Solution: Commander Control
  • Driver Benefit: With the Commander easily within reach, the driver doesn’t need to alter their posture to make inputs, minimizing the amount of physical effort required by the driver.

Mazda has carried this same philosophy over to their implementation of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is different than other car companies who simply add either or both to their cars without thinking of the effects of doing so and call it job done. In Mazda’s case, they’ve done the following:

  • Voice Recognition button on the steering wheel activates Siri or Google Assistant. Now that isn’t that different from most car companies. But I also found that Google Assistant could be invoked simply by saying “OK Google” without pressing the voice Recognition button.
  • The Entertainment, Home, and NAV buttons activate the related CarPlay or Android Auto function.
    • Entertainment and NAV buttons are contextually aware.
    • Home: short press, CarPlay or Android Auto home screen. Long press, Mazda Connect UI.
  • Rotating/Tilting the Commander knob moves the on-screen selection highlight.
    • Depress the Commander to select.

Now there are additional things that I noted when I tried these systems out that I noted. And I shot a pair of videos to detail them. I’d like to start with Apple CarPlay:

The second video is about Android Auto:

Since I am normally on Team iPhone, I spent most of my time using Apple CarPlay. In my week with the 2019 CX-9 I found that using Apple CarPlay was far less distracting than normal as I was able to do what I wanted to do using CarPlay and the HMI Commander Switch rather than having to take my attention away from driving to touch something on the screen. The same was true for my day long test of Android Auto. I believe that you’ll find the same is true for you if you test drive a Mazda vehicle.

Now Mazda is doing a staggered rollout through the line-up:

  • 2019 CX-9 first model to receive from factory, and that is available now
  • 2018 Mazda6 and 2019 CX-3 will see mid-year rolling change starting from September production
  • Other models will receive update with 2019 model year (except the MX-5)

So if you’re interested in Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in a new Mazda vehicle, it’s either here or it’s coming real soon. But what if you already own a Mazda vehicle? Mazda has you covered assuming you have any of the following vehicles:

  • 2014 Mazda3
  • 2016 Mazda6
  • 2016 MX-5
  • 2017 MX-5 RF
  • 2016 CX-3
  • 2016 CX-5
  • 2016 CX-9

For owners of these vehicles, the retrofit kit will cost $445 CDN installed.

Now, some of you might have bought one of the above vehicles in 2018. Does that mean that you are out of luck? No. Mazda Canada has thought of you. You’ll be able to get this functionality for $250 CDN for a limited time. In both cases, your Mazda will get the following:

  • The software update that gives you Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • A USB port upgrade that gives you at 2.1A USB port. Why do you need an upgrade to your USB port? Your phone needs to be able to get power from the vehicle and run Android Auto or Apple CarPlay at the same time, and the ports that came with your Mazda won’t cut it when it comes to doing that. As a bonus, your phone will charge faster as well.

The upgrade takes about 90 minutes at your local Mazda dealer.

Finally, I am going to tackle one point that has come up a few times over the last few weeks thanks to people who reached out to me to complain that they have to pay for getting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in their cars. You can see that there’s some physical hardware and work that goes into getting this into a Mazda vehicle. None of the work that they have to do is trivial. Thus I would argue that given what you get as part of this upgrade, and the fact that Mazda has put a lot of time and effort into making this as distraction free as possible. this is money well spent.

I would be reaching out to your Mazda dealer if you’re interested in getting this upgrade to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. As you can see, Mazda has spent a lot of time and effort to make this the best implementation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that I have seen in a vehicle. I would recommend that if you’re interested in either of these, and you want to use them as safely as possible, Mazda has to be at the top of your list in terms of vehicles to test drive. And if you already own a Mazda vehicle, this upgrade is totally worth obtaining as it will add value to your Mazda.

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on November 16, 2018 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the Mazda CX-9.  Key competitors include the Infiniti QX60, Acura MDX, Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Santa Fe XL, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Hylander could be considered competitors. But I really think that there are four reasons why the CX-9 in the Signature trim level beats all of them:

  • Fuel economy is better in the CX-9 than in any of those vehicles.
  • The torque of the engine is better in the CX-9 than in any of those vehicles.
  • In my opinion, the exterior of the CX-9 looks better than any of those vehicles.
  • It has the best implementation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that I have ever seen.
  • It has the best interior that I have seen in a car or SUV lately. One look and you’ll be impressed.

My final fuel economy was 11.7 L/100KM’s which I got in a mix of city roads and highways, not to mention a lot of rush hour traffic. I am pretty sure that in more favorable traffic conditions I could have done better. But I will take this fuel economy as that is a great for a vehicle of this size.

Now the CX-9 Signature goes for $51,500 before freight and taxes. But you can get a CX-9 for $36,700. One thing that I should mention is that the price is up slightly over the 2018 model, but you get a lot of content tossed into the mix for that price increase. That makes it a good value for anyone looking for a 7 passenger SUV. If that’s you, this is one SUV that you need to take a serious look at because quite frankly, Mazda has a winner in the form of the CX-9, and anything that competes against it is going to look like an also ran.

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on November 15, 2018 by itnerd

If you’re looking for technology in the Mazda CX-9, there’s a lot of it. Some of it which is really different. Let’s start with the safety technology:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring: This system keeps an eye out for cars in your blind spots so that you don’t hit them when changing lanes. It works well as the area of detection was large enough to keep me safe, but not so large that it created false positives.
  • Lane Departure Warning With Lane Keep Assist: If you cross over into another lane, this system will buzz you on either the right or the left side. The buzz really gets your attention I must say. You can also set it to vibrate the steering wheel. However, it has one extra trick, the system will proactively guide the CX-9 back onto its intended path if the system thinks you’re getting out of shape. I have to admit that the first couple of times that it intervened, it was kind of freaky as I am not used to driving a vehicle that does this. It took most of the week that I had the CX-9 to get used to it.
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert: If you back out of a parking space in a busy shopping mall and you have limited visibility to your left and right, you’ll love this system as you will be warned of any cars that cross into your path.
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System and High Beam Control: I wrote about this previously and I have to admit that on some of the back roads that I drive at night, this feature comes in handy. I was always able to see what was in front of me clearly. One thing that I really appreciated was the fact that the LED headlights were very bright.
  • Radar Based Cruise Control: I really liked this feature as you can set the speed you want and the distance that you want to have between yourself and the car in front of you, and you can pretty much let it slow down and speed up depending on the conditions. It’s very handy on long highway drives.
  • Smart City Brake Support: Let’s say that you you do not react in time to a car that panic stops in front of you. This Mazda is capable of coming to a stop on it’s own, or slowing down to make the impact less severe. You can get more details on this system here.
  • Rear Backup Camera: The camera is a fisheye camera that has an impressive degree of clarity. You can see anything and everything that is behind you when you’re backing up. One thing to note is that the camera is exposed and that became a bit of an issue when backing up as I couldn’t use it to back the CX-9 into a parking space.
  • You get anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution. Plus you get hill launch assist which keeps you from rolling backwards when you’re on a hill.
  • Finally, you get dual front air bags, dual front side air bags and dual side air curtains.

Two things really stand out though. Let’s start with the 360 degree camera, which is made up of four cameras. There’s the backup camera:

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And a pair of cameras in the mirrors:

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There are also sensors all around the car that work with the 360 camera system to ensure that you don’t hit anything. But it all combines to give you this view in the infotainment screen:

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That allowed me to have the visibility to properly navigate the drive through without hitting anything. The sensors also play a role when parking as well which is very handy as I could ensure that I was not only in the parking spot, but I could also make sure I didn’t hit anything. I have to admit that this was my favorite piece of technology during the week that I had the Mazda CX-9.

The second piece of technology that stood out was this:

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The Mazda Active Driving Display is a heads up display that places everything from speed and blind spot monitoring info, to navigation and warning for the lane monitoring, and how close you are to the car in front of you. On top of that, the car is capable of reading speed limit and stop signs so that it can display them on this heads up display in color. It works very well with the only thing that I should mention is that polarized driving sunglasses will filter the display out. Thus choose your sunglasses carefully.

The best piece of technology that is in the Mazda CX-9 is the inclusion of Mazda Connect. The combination of the 8″ touchscreen  and the HMI (Human Machine Interface) Commander Switch gives the driver a easy to learn, easy to use infotainment system. I wrote about it in detail here and this iteration seems to be a bit faster than I have found it to be in the past. But there’s more to Mazda Connect this time around as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. And it’s the best implementation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto I have seen. I created a couple of videos to illustrate why that is. The first is on Apple CarPlay:

The second is on Android Auto:

In the coming days I will be posting a more in depth report on Mazda’s implementation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But take it from me, if either of these matter to you, then you need to try them out in a Mazda.

One other thing that I should mention about Mazda Connect is the enhancements to SiriusXM which include the following:

  • More room for song/artist/genre metadata.
  • Album art display.
  • Channel logos on Now Playing and Station List screens.
  • New SiriusXM features: TuneStart, TuneScan, and TuneMix.

On top of that, SiriusXM Traffic Plus is now onboard and it includes the following features:

  • Live Traffic: View traffic flow and incident information directly on the Mazda Navigation map. This feature is available in 20 different Canadian communities. It ties into the on board navigation system to allow it to better route you.
  • Weather: View Forecasts, Radar Maps, and Severe Weather Alerts.
  • Fuel Prices: Find the lowest fuel prices or the closest fuel stations and see the available fuel types.
  • Parking Information: Find parking locations, pricing, and hours of operation.
  • Sports: Follow your favorite teams sports with play-by-play details and game/event schedules.

SiriusXM Traffic Plus is free for five years. This is separate from the three month trial SiriusXM audio subscription.

A 12 speaker Bose audio system is on board as well that sounds insanely great regardless of what music I threw at it. Which was the contents of my current audio torture playlist made up of Austra, Ruelle, TV On The Radio, Chemical Brothers, Electronic, Lana Del Rey and Black Coast among others.

Finally, there’s actually driving the Mazda CX-9 Signature? You get a proximity key with push button start. Thus all you have to do is press a button on the driver’s door handle. Press it and the car will unlock. Get in, hit the start/stop button and drive away. One nice touch is that the start/stop button will light up with a green light if you press the brake pedal to start. That’s a nice touch to remind you to press the brake pedal to start the car. When you’ve reached your destination, press the start/stop button to turn off the car. Then get out of the car, close the door and walk away. You’ll hear two beeps. One after you close the door and one about 10 seconds later. When you hear both, the car is locked. You never need to pull out the key fob to do any of this. But the key fob does have the ability to lock and unlock the doors and it has the ever useful panic button. As an added bonus, it has a backup key inside the key fob should you need it.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my final verdict. Watch for it on Friday.