Archive for 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.

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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.

 

 

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on November 14, 2018 by itnerd

The interior of this Mazda CX-9 Signature is impressive. Anyone who has seen it is wowed by how good it is. And by the fact that it’s made by Mazda and not by BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, or Lexus. Let me illustrate why by walking you through the interior:

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Let’s start with the drivers seat. It’s made of nappa leather and is comfortable to sit in once you dial in your position. Though if I could offer up a suggestion, a bit more thigh support for taller drivers would be welcome. It’s ten way adjustable with a pair of memory settings. The front seats are heated and cooled.

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Door, window and and mirror controls are on the left and surrounded by some glossy piano black trim (which as you can see from this photo does attract fingerprints). In front of that are the buttons for the electronic overseers and the button for the rear hatch.

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One nice touch is that the area near the handle is lit to add some ambiance.

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Another nice touch is that the bottom of the door is wrapped around the bottom of the car so that when get in and out, your pants don’t get dirty.

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The gauge cluster has a pair of analog gauges on the left and the right. But in the center is a massive TFT screen that allows you to customize it to display whatever info you need in front of you.

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Speaking of in front of you, there’s a heads up display that projects speed, blind spot monitoring, cruise control, navigation and other info right onto the windshield. I will have more on this in part four of my review.

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The steering wheel is leather wrapped and heated. It has buttons for the infotainment and cruise control systems. I must admit that it felt really nice in my hands.

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A 8″ display sits on top of the dash. Plus it also gives you a great view of the Nappa leather and brushed aluminum that is all over this vehicle. Below the display are the HVAC controls.

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Below the HVAC controls is the shift lever which is leather wrapped and surrounded by more piano black glossy trim. There’s also the HMI Commander Switch for the infotainment system and the electronic parking brake.

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There’s a pair of cupholders that pass the Venti Starbucks drink test.

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The armrest when opened has a pair of USB ports and a healthy amount of storage. It opens up in two halves which is kind of different. One thing that I should point out is that because the USB ports are here, I put my iPhone XS in here and left it there. Which meant I was less likely to try and use while driving.

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You get a decent sized glove box on the passenger side.

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My wife pointed this bit out. When you flip down the visor and slide the mirror open, the light that’s above it comes on. And when you flip up the visor, it turns off. She loved that clever feature.

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Another thing that my wife noticed was the 12v outlet on the passenger side. That’s very handy.

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One thing that I noticed was the fact that the rear view mirror is frameless. That gives you a lot more visibility when you have it properly positioned.

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Now the sunroof that’s in the CX-9 was a topic for discussion as some felt that Mazda missed an opportunity to get a 10/10 on this vehicle by not having a panoramic sunroof in the vehicle. My response to that would be that by not having a panoramic sunroof, they make sure the vehicle stays stiff which makes it drive and handle better. And driving performance is a core reason why you buy a Mazda. Thus having a sunroof of this size makes total sense to me.

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The second row can seat three kids. Maybe adults if they are friendly. The second row seats are heated for all except the person in the middle. And they slide back and forth to create more room for either those in the second row, or for those in the third row.

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Those in the second row get access to their own set of HVAC controls.

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If you don’t need to seat three people in the second row, you can flip down this armrest which not only has a pair of cupholders, but it has a storage area with a pair of USB ports in it.

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Accessing the third row is straightforward. You pull a lever at the top of the second row seat (which split 60/40 by the way) flips down partially and the seat slides forward. Now adults will have a challenge sitting back here as headroom is limited. But kids should be fine.

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There’s cupholders on either side of the third row.

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Cargo room is not an issue. The third row folds flat and the second row folds mostly flat to give you lots of room (over 2000L of storage) for lots of cargo.

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The CX-9 came in handy for me to pick up this TCL 43″ UHD TV that is up next to review in the coming days. I folded down all the seats to ensure that it would fit. But I think it might have fit even if I didn’t fold down the second row seats..

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I also got this new TV stand and I only had to slide one of the second row seats forward to make it fit.

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Shopping for groceries were a total non issue.

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There is underfloor storage as well.

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The cargo area has handy hooks like this one to secure your cargo.

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Plus there’s a 12v outlet back here as well to power your gear.

Overall the interior is top shelf 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. Though I will note that when you have the third row seats up, the headrests cut off some of your rear vision. No rattles, squeaks, or other annoyances were noted during my week with the CX-9.

Tomorrow I will talk about the technology in the CX-9, including one major addition. Stay tuned for that.

 

 

Review: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on November 12, 2018 by itnerd

About two years ago I reviewed the Mazda CX-9 which is Mazda’s entry into the three row SUV space. It impressed me in terms of the quality of the interior, the stunning exterior looks, and the fuel economy which was amazing for such a big vehicle.

Now I’m back with the 2019 version in the Signature trim:

 

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The looks are stated earlier are simply stunning. It’s easily the best looking vehicle that Mazda has made. This despite the fact that this is a two year old design. Clearly it is a design that is going to age well. But Mazda did make a change on the outside. The mirrors are power folding mirrors which is a feature that did not exist in the one that I drove 2 years ago. They unfold when you unlock the CX-9 and fold up when you lock the CX-9. That’s a nice touch. But beyond that, any changes that Mazda has made to the CX-9 are going to be elsewhere and I will do my best to highlight them as I go through this review.

My review of the CX-9 is made up of five parts:

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

Tomorrow, I’ll be covering the fact that this seven passenger SUV comes with a 2.5l turbocharged 4 cylinder engine as opposed to a V6. That impressed me the last time I drove this vehicle, and I was even more impressed this time around. Tune in tomorrow to find out why.

Mazda Canada Rolling Out Apple CarPlay And Android Auto

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 13, 2018 by itnerd

Every time I review a Mazda product, I can count on a few people emailing in and asking me about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As in, when will Mazda jump onto that bandwagon. Well, I can give you details on that from two angles. Starting with new vehicles.

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Mazda is rolling out Apple CarPlay and Android out in new vehicles starting with the 2019 Mazda CX-9 crossover which is arriving in dealerships as you are reading this. The 2019 Mazda CX-3 and 2018 Mazda6 will get this functionality starting in September as part of rolling production change. Other Mazda models will get both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the 2019 model year with the exception of the Mazda MX-5 which will have a separate announcement at a later day.

Now, some of you might have bought one of the above vehicles recently. 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. That price includes the software update, and a USB port upgrade that gives you at 2.1A USB port. Just be prepared to spend about 90 minutes in the dealership. Now the above price is a special price that expires on February 28, 2019 for those who purchased the above vehicles without Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. And those owners will have exclusive access to that update. After that date, Mazda Canada will open up the availability of this upgrade to other Mazda Canada owners. So if you own one of these following cars you can upgrade:

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

That list covers about a quarter million cars in Canada which is pretty impressive. Expect to pay $445 CDN for it. One thing that I should note is that availability of the upgrade will likely be limited to start. But expect your Mazda dealership and Mazda Canada to reach out to you regarding when you can get this upgrade.

Now I got a demonstration of the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay implementation in Mazda vehicles using the same Mazda HMI Commander Switch that is part of Mazda Connect. And without giving away a whole lot, it is one of the best implementations of either technology that I have seen in a car. I will be getting a 2019 Mazda CX-9 in the next few weeks and you can expect a detailed review of not only that vehicle, but you’ll get a separate review on how Mazda has implemented Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Once you see it, you’ll see that it will be a key differentiator for Mazda Canada. Stay tuned!

Review: 2018 Mazda CX-5 GT – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on June 1, 2018 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the Mazda CX-5. Now, what does it compete against? I’ll start with the usual suspects which are the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue. Hyundai Tucson which I reviewed a couple of years ago, Ford Escape and Kia Sportage. But the interior of the CX-5 is above and beyond what’s in all of these vehicles and so are the driving dynamics. Not to mention the exterior looks. But the big news is the inclusion of cylinder deactivation technology which saves you gas and by extension cash. All of that in my mind pushes the CX-5 to the front of the pack.

Speaking of fuel economy, my final fuel economy was 8.9 L/100KM’s. Seeing as I recorded 9.9 L/100 KM’s in last years model, that’s a 1 L/100KM’s difference. That’s a marginal gain. But that marginal gain adds up over a week, a month or a year as you’re going further on less gas with no change in performance. That in my mind makes this marginal gain a significant gain.

Now the CX-5 GT that I had this weeks goes for $38,495 (freight included). But you can get a CX-5 for $25,900 which is right in the range of it’s main competitors. Given the level of content that comes with the CX-5 GT, and the fuel economy that this SUV is capable of, that’s good value for money. And it’s another reason why the it will continue to be one of the top sellers in the highly competitive compact SUV space.

Review: 2018 Mazda CX-5 GT – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on May 31, 2018 by itnerd

If you’re looking for technology in the Mazda CX-5, there’s a lot of it to be found. 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-5 back onto its intended path if the system thinks you’re getting out of shape. For what its worth, it was never overly intrusive when it did intervene.
  • 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 came 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.
  • Distance Recognition Support System: This feature measures the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead and recommends a comfortable following distance on the Active Driving Display as long as you are above 30 km/h.
  • 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. One trick that it has is that it will slow the car down to a dead stop. Though you’ll have to get the CX-5 moving again once traffic starts to move.
  • 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 enough to make the impact less severe. You can get more details on this system here. I should note that this is a standard feature regardless of the trim level
  • 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, so it may become a dirt magnet that will affect what you can see.
  • 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.

There’s one other piece of technology that I should point out:

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This is the Mazda Active Driving Display, and this feature projects vehicle speed, chosen cruise-control speed, information from the navigation system (including turn-by-turn directions, distance and lane guidance) as well as notifications for the blind spot monitoring system, lane departure warning system, and road signs onto the windscreen. All of this information is within the line of sight of the driver, which means you never have to look away from the road. That’s why I consider it to be a piece of safety tech. Once I tweaked the position of the display, I found it to be extremely useful. The only thing that I should mention is that my Oakely Prizim Road driving sunglasses filters the display out. Thus choose your sunglasses carefully.

Is there anything missing from the safety tech? There are no backup sensors which give you audio cues of how close you are to an object when you are backing up. That could be a problem as many of the vehicles that the CX-5 competes against includes this feature.

Now how about actually driving the Mazda CX-5? 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.

Then there is Mazda Connect. The combination of the 7″ 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 before anyone asks, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay isn’t currently available, but it’s on the way.

The Mazda CX-5 has a 10 speaker Bose sound system that I have to admit that regardless where in the CX-5 I happened to be sitting, the sound was excellent as the highs and lows were perfect and the audio was well balanced when I tested it with 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. I should note that there is no CD player in the CX-5, but I don’t think you’ll miss 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.