Whether you like your SUV and/or crossover to be big and luxurious, or small and sporty, there's an abundance of models from which to choose. And two carmakers famed for either sportiness or utility are offering brand new iterations of the old SUV/Crossover theme.
They are Mazda, with the CX-50 and Jeep, with its new Wagoneer. The first is a sporty little beauty whose existence I don't understand while the second is a huge and hedonistic land barge whose existence I don't understand, either. I'm sure profitability enters the discussion somewhere with either company, however, and that's fine.
Let's look at the Mazda first. I'm a huge Mazda fan (though there aren't really any "huge" Mazdas – the closest you can get is with the terrific, three row CX-9) and regularly recommend them to friends and anyone else who asks because I love their combination of Japanese style and quality and – though they apparently don't use this phrase anymore – "Zoom-Zoom", which means every Mazda can really be considered as a driver's car – even if it's an SUV.
The CX-50 is no different. It's based mostly on the exquisite CX-5, but it "sports" a lower and more aggressive mien. Alas, it also "sports" ugly plastic cladding that makes it seem more utilitarian than fun, even though it isn't, really. But its lower apparent stance than the CX-5 cries out "Zoom-Zoom" more than its brother does, even though that brother is no slouch by any means. more...
Mazda's great CX-5 SUV/Crossover continues to get even better with some upgrades for 2022 that up the performance and comfort antes.
It's my favourite model of the ones in this niche that I've driven – and even in some higher niches in which it doesn't pretend to compete, such as the luxury market. In fact, if you drove it back-to-back with some higher end product such as Lexus, Infiniti and the like, you might just find that the Mazda offers nearly as much luxury, but is easier to live with and more fun to drive.
How can that be a bad thing?
For 2022, those ante updates include adding its i-Activ all-wheel drive across the line, from the base model right up to the one of Mazda Canada's sample, the Signature Edition.
Fans of the CX-5 may notice that for 2022 the vehicle has also received a freshening of its already handsome exterior, with tweaked front and rear ends (wish I could tweak MY rear end!), with the front fascia getting a new "signature wing" extending out from the new grille. The head and taillights are also new, each of the lights featuring horizontally spaced, rectangular LED lights. New aluminum alloy wheels also enhance the vehicle's stance.
Opt for the GT trim level and the 2022 version also gets you the option of a "sport appearance package" with gloss black finishes and an interior with red accents and stitching. Not a big deal, for sure, but still nice.
The Signature model also ups the appearance ante, with body coloured exterior cladding with bright silver-finished wheels. The interior is appointed with premium quality materials such as Nappa leather and real wood. more...
Talk about a tough decision!
Which is better, the Mazda 3 or the Mazda CX-30? Both are mostly the same under the skin – or close enough anyway - and both are relatively inexpensive (comparatively, anyway) in their very competitive marketplaces.
And both are available with Mazda's terrific 2.5 litre turbo four engine and all wheel drive.
Which would you choose?
I guess it depends on whether you're a car or an SUV guy. I'm a car guy – actually I like hatchbacks and wagons because of their storage space and a bit of extra weight not on the front wheels – so I'd lean toward the 3 over the "taller 3" represented by the CX-30.
Then again, I absolutely hate the styling of the current 3 "Sport" hatchback, from the beginning of the C pillar back. It reminds me of one of the huge butted Shaak critters from Star Wars Episode II (the Clone one), when Anakin and Padme are falling in love on the planet Naboo.
And it's enough to make me think of embracing the dark side of the force and opting for a damn SUV over a beloved sports wagon. more...
One's a big, three row SUV and the other's a midsize sedan. And they're both Mazdas, turbocharged for maximum "Zoom-Zoom" effect.
How can that be a bad thing?
Regular readers of my columns (you both know who you are!) know undoubtedly that I'm a big fan of all things Mazda. I love their typically Japanese build quality; I mostly love the way Mazdas look – and most of all I love how Mazdas drive. While it appears that they've put their "Zoom-Zoom" marketing strategy to rest in recent times, it still applies to the feeling you get when driving one of their vehicles, whether the smallest or the largest in their stable.
And because of that I'm going to keep using "Zoom-Zoom" until they send me a cyst and decease notice.
The company seems to be moving its emphasis quite a bit toward adding luxury touches now, though, elevating their mainstream models to a level of equipment you might not expect in these particular market niches. And all without harming the "Zoom-Zoom." more...
Take Mazda's award-winning, and terrific, 3 hatchback, raise it a bit and add some plastic cladding and what do you have?
Well, if you've read the title to this piece, you're already a step ahead and know I'm talking about the new for 2020 CX-30, a compact SUV/Crossover that's based on the 3 – and that's a heckuva great place to start!
I love the Mazda 3, though I think this current generation's hatchback model has a rear end only a Kardashian fan could love. But the car is terrific and arguably the nicest and most fun compact coming from Japan these days. Zoom-Zoom, even though I've heard that Mazda is apparently not using it any more, is not just a slogan; it's a fact.
But it appears the marketplace is moving more toward SUV/Crossovers and though Mazda already has a terrific lineup in its CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9, they apparently felt there was a hole in their inventory where such vehicles as Toyota's C-HR, Honda's HR-V, Hyundai's Venue or Kona and Kia's Seltos and Niro live.
Hence the CX-30. And judging from my week with it, just as winter was trying to end and the Coronavirus was trying to begin, it's a fine entry. And as a car guy as opposed to an SUV/Crossover aficionado, I actually think it's nicer looking than the 3 hatchback, from the B pillar (between the front and rear doors) back.
Oh, I could do without the plastic cladding, but it seems to be a common affliction for this type of vehicle.
It's probably fair to look upon the CX-30 as a tall 3, kind of like the Audi A4 Allroad is basically an A4 wagon raised a bit from the regular model. So, you get a little taller view of the road, which apparently is one of the selling points for SUV/Crossovers compared to cars, and perhaps better off road performance (especially if you opt for the all wheel drive version). more...
How do you make a great SUV even more stimulating? Well, you could give it more oomph, or better fuel mileage – or, better still, both.
And that's what Mazda has done with the CX-5 Diesel, a new model in the company's SUV line, and it's a pretty compelling piece of automotive stuff.
Mazda's famous "Zoom-Zoom" slogan isn't just advertising hype; it's actually true. In fact, over the past decade or so I've gotten more speeding tickets while behind the wheel of a Mazda than I have any other brand, including supposedly higher end sports vehicles. Can't blame Mazda for self-inflicted wounds, but such is the effect Mazda vehicles have on me. It isn't horsepower or torque, it's just an overall feel – and I love it!
I've always liked the CX-5, though its initial offering from several years ago was a tad underpowered. Since then, Mazda has upped the engine offerings to include a 2.4 litre Skyactiv four-cylinder engine rated at 187 hp and 186 lb.-ft. of torque (which is slightly more than adequate), as well as a delicious turbo four (227 hp, 310 lb.-ft. of torque, with regular gasoline) the same engine that's available in the excellent, and larger, CX-9 and the Mazda6 sedan).
Now comes the diesel, arriving in the marketplace on the heels of the Volkswagen group having abandoned this niche due to some supposed corporate chicanery that caused the company a world of hurt and a tsunami of payouts. I loved VW's diesels and were I in the market would seek one out despite the "powers that are's" assault on them. Why? Torque and fuel mileage. more...
Mazda's 3 series not only has a new generation for 2019, it has also added a new, all-wheel drive option of its popular compact car. But no matter how you configure it, the new 3 is a wonderful car that offers fun, technology and refinement in a package that belies its mainstream market niche.
And it still offers plenty of Mazda's special "Zoom-Zoom."
That "Zoom-Zoom" tends to get me into trouble, though. Most of the speeding tickets I've earned over the years have come when I'm behind the wheel of a Mazda, whether it be one of their cars or one of their SUV's (even the big CX-9 hasn't left me immune from such "imperial entanglements"). Not even my most beloved nameplate, Porsche, has bitten me in the butt as badly as has Mazda. It's weird.
I love Mazdas for their wonderful driving feel and I loved the 3 even back when it was the Protégé. This fourth generation of the 3, however, is not only a terrific upgrade, it (obviously, in my never humble opinion) sits atop its market niche when compared with the other mainstream compacts I've driven. This includes other cars I love, such as the VW Jetta and the Hyundai Elantra, and cars I merely respect such as the Toyota Corolla and the egregiously styled Honda Civic.
And as with other recent Mazdas, the company has done such a great job of equipping it (in its higher trim levels, anyway), that I think it can compete head to head with more luxurious models such as the Acura ILX or Infiniti Q50. more...
Mazda's much-honoured and popular 3 series is back with a new generation for 2019 and it's a spectacular vehicle whose design, features and quality make it stand out in a particularly crowded marketplace.
Okay, I'm a fan of Mazdas and have always loved the 3. Heck, I loved the 3 when it was the Protégé, especially the hatchback Protégé 5. But this fourth generation of the 3 is not only a spectacular upgrade, it's so nice that I think it outclasses every other car in this niche that I have driven or wanted to drive.
That would include the VW Jetta, which I love, the Hyundai Elantra, which I love, and the Kia Forte, which I haven't driven yet but figure I'd love if I had. As for other competitors such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, well, they're great cars but the Corolla's a tad bland and the Civic is so ugly and weird that it was the first to fall off my personal "best mainstream compact car" list.
It doesn't end there. The Mazda is so nice and is thought out and equipped so well I'd move it right out of that niche and into a higher one, where it could compete favourably with such luxury models as the Acura ILX (my current favourite Acura) or Audi A3 (which, alas, I haven't driven since the folks at Audi Canada apparently decided they didn't need writers from "flyover country"). more...
Mazda's top selling vehicle, the CX-5 crossover, has been a blast to drive ever since they added a bigger SKYACTIV engine to the base two litre one a few years back. And since then, the Japanese carmaker has done nothing but make the vehicle an even more interesting and compelling drive.
So it is that, for 2019, the company has chosen to not only add a new "Signature" trim level to the top of the line, it has also brought over the wonderful turbo four that now graces the CX-9 and is available in the exquisite Mazda6 sedan as well. The engine, especially, ups the fun ante appreciably, though a couple of unfortunate oversights mean the vehicle doesn't impart quite as much "driving joy" as it could.
Still, as it has been traditionally, the CX-5 is still my favourite model in this very crowded market niche. more...
Mazda's largest bundle of joy goes into the 2019 model year with some new tweaks the company thinks will make this three row SUV/Crossover even more compelling than before.
Tough to do that with a minor upgrade, especially since the CX-9 was such a terrific beast already, but the purveyor of Japanese "Zoom-Zoom" pulled a few rabbits out of their design hats for the new model year and they combine to make this big, three row SUV even nicer.
It still needs paddle shifters, though. Zoom-zoom without paddles for the automatic transmission? Give me a break!
That said, driving the CX-9 is like driving any other Mazda: it's more fun than you might imagine for such a vehicle. It's also plenty comfortable and luxurious, and even more tech-equipped than ever. This vehicle is put together so nicely that if I were shopping in this niche it would be top my short list – even before some other, supposedly more luxurious (but with more annoying interfaces) Japanese brands that cost thousands more. more...
It's amazing how the simple shot of oomph Mazda has added to its wonderful little MX-5 gives its driver an even bigger shot of adrenaline.
Yet there it is: a car that has always been a joy to drive, yet has never been accused of being over powered, still isn't overpowered - but it's powered enough, and for this reviewer that's the best news since the demise of the turbocharged Mazdaspeed Miata of years gone by.
I loved it! In fact, this new soft top MX-5 (why, oh why, can't they keep calling it the Miata?) is my favourite MX-5/Miata to date. And that surprised me.
The surprise came from the fact that my favourite MX-5 previously, besides that old turbo model, was the last generation MX-5 with the retractable hard top. I'd loved it for that retractable top which, for an increasingly follically-challenged dude like me who prefers not to have the sun beating down on the cranium too much, offered the best of convertible and hard top worlds. The extra weight undoubtedly affected its acceleration, but not enough to make the car suck in any way. more...
Compact SUV's are a dime a dozen, but if you're looking for one that's not only capable, roomy and efficient, but is fun to drive as well, the list gets decidedly shorter.
Small and fun SUV's are available, but most of the lower end ones I've driven – the mainstream stuff from mainstream companies such as Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai and the like – seem to focus more on the "UV" (Utility Vehicle) than the "S" (Sport), which is perhaps why the term "crossover" has become so popular.
And while you can get small SUV's that are a blast to drive, you often have to look higher up in the automotive food chain, such as the Porsche Macan, BMW X1 and X3 and the like. What's person to do if he/she/it can only afford about $30,000 yet still loves the joy of the drive?
As is often the case, Mazda rides to the rescue more...
Truth in advertising gets even more truthful for Mazda with the release of the 2018 6 sedan and its optional choice of a turbocharged engine.
The engine, which comes from the company's big SUV/Crossover CX-9, ups the 6's entertainment/engagement ante substantially, which I imagine is the entire point behind Mazda's move.
I've never driven a Mazda that didn't put a smile on my face (well, their old pickup truck was pretty ordinary, but that was quite a while ago), and even though I'd have preferred a bit more oomph from the current generation 6 when I first reviewed it back in 2013 I still liked the car and found it to be a rewarding driving experience.
That 6 (and the current base model) uses the same Skyactiv 2.5 litre four cylinder engine that's found in the 3 sedan and the CX-5 SUV. And it's fine in both of them (though I'd love to see this more interesting turbo offered on them, too!), but the larger 6 has more girth to pull around via its front wheels and that can affect the final "Zoom-Zoom" quotient. Hence the new turbo offering.
The 6 is a lovely car and for the life of me I don't understand why Mazda doesn't sell as many 6's as Toyota and Honda do with the Camry and Accord; it's in the same market niche, but the 6 is better looking and more fun to drive than either of those other Japanese competitors. more...
The entry level version of Mazda's smallest SUV is not only a great vehicle that's a blast to drive, it also shows clearly that there are plenty of common features on today's vehicles that aren't really necessary.
I mean, for 20 grand Canadian, you can have a gr
eat-looking "crossover" that's also a great driving one (it feels kind of like a tall Mazda 3). It's almost enough to make me want to think about owning an SUV, without simultaneously ducking to avoid a lightning strike from Heaven.
Sure, for that $19,995 entry price you don't get adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, and that type of thing. But you do get manual cruise control, and vehicle that handles so nicely that you should have no trouble keeping inside your lane (as long as you pay attention - and if you don't, why are you there?). You also get outside rear view mirrors you can adjust to virtually eliminate blind spots - and plenty more standard features, like airbags, belts and the like. Just like every car today, pretty well. more...
Here we go again, another Mazda review, another vehicle that does everything it should well, but which adds a little extra "zing" to the equation or, as Mazda has put it for so long, with "Zoom-Zoom."
Sure, it could use a little more "Zoom," but it's still pretty good, and it's a darn fine mid-sized SUV as well.
I love Mazdas and have only found one over the years I've been reviewing them that was lacking enough in "Zoom-Zoom" for me to whine about it - even though I'd love to see a little more of it in most of their current vehicle line. It was the original CX-5, back in 2012, the first Mazda product to offer its SKYACTIV technology. The two litre engine in question only put out 155 horsepower, which prompted me to quote the book of Daniel: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?"
My point was that I hoped Mazda, while attempting to appease the greenies with its SKYACTIV technology (which, to be fair, involves more than just their engines), didn't enrage their fans at the same time. I know they annoyed my best friend, who drives a first generation Mazda3 and is seriously looking at a new CX-5 for his next vehicle, because after he drove that original CX-5 he referred to it as "Snooze-Snooze," and he doesn't even have my lead foot.
Fortunately, that, as they say, was then and this is now. more...
Ah, the Mazda MX-5. Once called the Miata, the Japanese carmaker's little open top roadster has been around for nearly 30 years and during that time has evolved and grown like most cars.
But unlike some cars that get overstyled or "over-teched" or which lose their original mien over the years, Mazda has never lost the Miata's focus of delivering the kind of driving joy that used to be found on such cars as the MGB, but without leaving you on the side of the road every time it rains.
Okay, that may be an exaggeration about the old British sports cars, but I've owned three MGB's (in various states of repair from "on its last legs" to "brand new") and they all left me on the side of the road - so much so that I look back now, decades later, and find it hard to believe I could have been so stupid as to get kicked by that particular mule three times. What can I say? I was a kid. more...
It turns out that the phrase "Wankel rotary engine," unlike how it's described in an old Monty Python sketch, is no reason for embarrassment. Especially for Mazda, the only carmaker with the pluck to realize - and do its best to prove - that Wankels weren't just for wankers.
Sure, it hasn't worked out as Mazda may have liked - the last rotary Mazda was the now-defunct RX-8, a terrific sports car - but it isn't as if the technology doesn't work. It just may not work as well as the conventional internal (a.k.a, to greenies, as infernal) combustion engine, especially in this day and age of increasingly mandated fuel economy.
But 50 years ago as of May 30th, the Hiroshima-headquartered carmaker began its legacy of, as Mazda's press release celebrating the anniversary said, "doing what was said couldn't be done." Mazda wasn't unique, if my aging memory is still working. General Motors was also looking at rotary engines at one time, but I don't believe they ever followed through. That would make Mazda the only major carmaker to wish the Wankel onto the world, and the company did it not only via its sports cars (though never the Miata) but also via some very nice sedans and coupes. A coupe de grace, perhaps? more...
It's big and it only sports a four banger engine, but the Mazda CX-9 SUV/crossover is one of the best driving vehicles in the class.
In other words, it's a typical Mazda.
Mazda is a relatively small car company, and for the last few years the Hiroshima-headquartered Japanese carmaker has had to forge its own path without another carmaker having its back (Ford used to be a partner). Yet it consistently comes up with vehicles - sedans, SUV/crossovers and, of course, sports coupes - that are just plain fun, yet are also featured fully and exude an air of quality that makes them seem more expensive than they are.
The CX-9 is Mazda's biggest vehicle, but slip this baby into sport mode via the little rocker switch on the centre console and the vehicle seems to shrink a tad, just enough to make it sit up and take notice that you're looking to play. It still feels big, of course - even Mazda can't change the laws of physics - but it goes from feeling like a nice, big SUV to a nice, big Mazda SUV, and all the "Zoom-Zoom" that brings. more...
The bad news is that you can no longer get a V6 engine in Mazda's biggest SUV. The good news is that you may not care.
I must admit that I was worried when I heard that Mazda was dumping the V6. I liked the old CX-9 a lot - I have yet to drive a Mazda I didn't like - and I was concerned that trimming it down to a turbocharged four cylinder engine would lead to a vehicle that wouldn't be as much fun to drive. But I needed have worried! After spending a week in the new CX-9, I commend Mazda for their choice because the new CX-9 loses nothing important in the way of performance, yet it shed weight and undoubtedly upped its fuel mileage in the process.
Therefore, we have a new turbo four, the first turbocharged SKYACTIV engine from Mazda, and while its horsepower rating of 227 may not set the world on fire considering the size of the CX-9, its 310 lb.-ft. of torque, available at a nice and low 2,000 rpm, makes up for it very nicely. more...
Hot on the heels of Honda's Civic being named the 2016 Canadian Car of the Year comes the news that Mazda has copped the crossover cup, beating out utility vehicles costing more than twice as much.
That's a pretty neat trick, and I agree completely with my fellow members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada in their assessment. In fact, I called this one right after last fall's TestFest, which must be a record since I'm usually proven wrong in such prognostications.
But the Mazda really stood out - though I must admit that had I driven the Kia Sorento at TestFest (there wasn't time to drive absolutely every vehicle on hand in what's basically an automotive salad bar for car nuts) I might have put it on top. But the Mazda is still a deserving winner and the fact that it's available for 30 grand or less makes a powerful argument in favour of it. more...
Chalk up another hit for the "Zoom-Zoom" folk, if there's any justice left in the world. That's because Mazda's brand new CX-3 SUV/crossover is a terrific vehicle that should compete well in its market niche. It's a fun little beastie that, like most Mazdas, is a relative blast to drive.
The new CX-3 occupies the "subcompact crossover" segment, so it's competing with things like the new Honda HR-V, which I have yet to drive but look forward to opining about, as well as the Nissan Juke and others of that ilk. And of the ones in this niche that I have driven so far, the Mazda is easily the best "driver's car" of the bunch. more...
After debuting to much hullaballoo from enthusiasts, the Mazda6 sedan has soldiered on in near anonymity in its current generation - I see oodles of 3's on the road but it's rare to see a 6 around here, and that's a darn shame because the 6 is pretty well everything the 3 is, but bigger (though no hatchback or V6, alas).
Despite having no hatch or V6, the Mazda6 is a fine car. In fact, it was named the 2014 Canadian Car of the Year after competing in the Automobile Journalists of Canada Canadian Car of the Year TestFest. And it was a deserving winner. more...
Last year's award-winning Mazda3 enters 2015 mostly unchanged, and that's just as well because the 2014 version was an outstanding car that needed little work. Heck, I named that car my "TechnoFile Car of the Year" last year.
This rant recounts my rematch with the Mazda, a report on how my second week-long experience with this great little hatchback/wagon worked out. Naturally, it worked out fine. Heck, I didn't even run afoul of the law this time!
Mazda Canada sent the Mazda3 Sport GT version, the top trim level, and it starts at $26,995. more...
Mazda's little bundle of joy has been putting smiles on enthusiasts' faces for more than 20 years, and it's still about the best iteration of the classic British sports car you can get without being left on the side of the road.
The car was an instant hit and since then has gone on to sell more than 900,000 units, which Mazda claims makes it by far still the best-selling two-seat roadster in the world.
What was in earlier versions called the Miata (and I have to admit I still think of it as that) has grown over the years, like every other car. And while that growth and the addition of new technologies have also made the car heavier, Mazda also upped the oomph ante so that today's MX-5 packs very nearly the same poop aspirated normally that the old Mazdaspeed Miata did with a turbocharger. more...
Mazda's bread and butter car, the 3 (click on the image to open a slideshow), is back with a terrific new edition that ups the already successful little car's ante substantially over its previous generation. It's an excellent car that looks, drives and feels more expensive than it is.
The 3 is available in two versions, sedan and hatchback, which Mazda calls, respectively, the Mazda3 and the Mazda3 Sport. They're both very nice, but the Sport is a five door hatchback (a.k.a. a "wagon"), so it's also a tad more practical for those who like to haul stuff.
The Sport is also the better looking of the two styles, in my never humble opinion. The front end is pretty well the same on either version, but the Sport's rear end somehow seems to finish off the car's bum better. more...
MX-5 soldiers on, putting smiles on faces
Mazda's MX-5 is all about the driving experience and it does a fine job of carrying out its mandate. When Mazda single handedly resuscitated the two seat roadster segment, the little roadster hearkened back to such classic sports cars as the MGB, Triumph Spitfire, Alfa Romeo Spyder and Fiat 124 Spider.
Except that Mazda upped the ante by adding to the fun factor the reliability for which Japanese carmakers had become known. The rest is history: a beloved segment was reborn.
Since then, the MX-5 Miata became simply the MX-5 and went through some evolution that has left the car larger and heavier, equipped better, but still an absolute blast to drive. And they even added an optional retractable hard top that buttons the car up as tightly as a coupe – remarkably, without truncating the trunk.
The current MX-5 is still small inside, but not quite as cramped as it was originally. And it's still a joy to drive, though you can feel the extra weight the car has put on over the years (ensuring that art mimics the human experience!). more...
Mazda crafts a new Skyactiv 6
The Mazda6 is back, wearing a brand new set of clothes and with a new heart as well. And it's a great new version, even in its four cylinder Skyactiv livery.
It's a good thing the four cylinder's such a delight, too, because Mazda no longer offers a six cylinder option. I think that's a mistake, but at least the configuration is entertaining enough not to water down the "Zoom-Zoom" quotient excessively.
You may have seen this new 6 on TV, in commercials showing a bright red Mazda six zipping around behind a couple of cellists – yet another example of excessive violins on TV! – and Mazda Canada sent one exactly like that for my test. And I had a wonderful time living with it. more...
Mazda's CX-5 gets "Zoom-Zoom," while the CX-9 gets rhinoplasty
Call one an important upgrade, the other a minor update. And between them both, you have a couple of very nice SUV's.
The CX-5, Mazda's entry-level SUV, came out last year as the first of the company's "Skyactiv" vehicles, which are designed to up the gas mileage substantially while supposedly not minimizing the "Zoom-Zoom" for which the company is rightly famous.
It was handsome, pretty good to drive, and it did get better mileage than may have been traditional for a Mazda. But despite its plentiful goodness, I thought it was underpowered and therefore a disappointment. And that was a surprise; I was a big fan of the turbocharged CX-7, which the CX-5 replaced, and I'm a big fan of Mazdas in general, exactly because of "Zoom-Zoom" – they're generally a lot of fun to drive.
But last year's CX-5 only came with Mazda's two liter Skyactiv engine, which is rated at 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,000 rpm, and while it's a reasonable power plant in the Mazda3 Skyactiv, it just doesn't cut it in the heavier CX-5. more...
Mazda3 Sport SKYACTIV: great car, still with "Zoom"
Mazda's "SKYACTIV" technology is designed to up gas mileage and lower emissions while preserving the company's well-earned "fun to drive" quotient. And while those two goals may seem contradictory – or as unobtainable as perpetual motion – Mazda has done a pretty decent job with its top selling 3.
First introduced with the 2012 model year, SKYACTIV technology is described by Mazda as "the next generation of advanced vehicle performance and efficiency" that "embodies Mazda's philosophy of engineering only vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying to own and environmentally responsible." I've dumped on SKYACTIV before, especially when it came to the CX-5 crossover/SUV, which I found lacking in "Zoom-Zoom" when I drove it several months ago.
And even though my first experience with the 3 SKYACTIV sedan about a year ago left me missing some of the "Zoom" lost inevitably when one panders to the greens (or, to be a little more charitable, tries to meet ever more stringent government regulations), an experience since then put Mazda's move more into perspective. more...
Mazda MX-5, Toyota Venza mostly stay the course
They may be very different in form and market niche, but the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota Venza are both excellent vehicles that offer a lot of value and/or fun to their owners. And that's nothing to sneeze at.
Both cars are also inching toward the end of their life cycles in their current forms, so their respective manufacturers are adding new content to keep potential clients interested – not that there isn't plenty of incentive to love these cars already. more...
Mazda CX-5 – Economy and Style, Hold the "Zoom-Zoom"
"For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" - Matthew 16:26
Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but that's how I felt about Mazda coming out of my week with their new "Cute ute" niche SUV/Crossover, the 2013 CX-5. I love Mazdas, and a big reason for that is "Zoom-Zoom," which the company has not only used as its catchphrase for many years, but which it has backed up with a succession of vehicles that are more interesting and engaging to drive than much of the competition. more...
Mazda CX-9 Meets Honda Pilot
They're both big, three row SUV/Crossovers, from Japan, and both sell for about the same price. But are they mostly the same, or are they two distinct variations on the theme? Clearly, just to look at the two vehicles you can tell it's the latter, that each of these big family haulers is its own man, so to speak.
The Mazda comes across as, well, "Zoom-Zoom," but it's also more stylish than the rather boxy Pilot – not that beauty is anything other than in the eye of the beholder, of course. The Honda appears clearly as more utility-oriented than the CX-9, with nifty storage areas throughout and a much more "workman-like" mien.
Yet they have so much in common, right down to their "as tested" prices of just over $48,000 Canadian ($48,270 for the Mazda versus $48,520 for the Honda). more...
Mazda3 Promises Earth-Friendly Zoom-Zoom
You might think Mazda using a word like "SKYACTIV" to describe its products might mean it has come up with a practical flying car. You'd be wrong, of course – not that Mazdas can't fly along the road in their own right. They do, after all, offer "Zoom-Zoom."
But for 2012, Mazda is adding SKYACTIV technology to its line, the first example to come across our driveway being the wonderful 3, the small four door sedan I've come to know and love over the years. SKYACTIV promises to add more eco-friendliness to the "Zoom-Zoom" equation, through reduced emissions and better gas mileage. more...
Mazda's Fun Fours – SPEED3 and MX-5
Mazda's MAZDASPEED3and MX-5 are definitely a couple of "Zoom-Zoom" treats for fine, summer driving. And what could be more fun than that after a seemingly endless winter and wet spring?
The nice thing is that, thanks to the SPEED3's "conventional" four door wagon configuration, and the MX-5's snug retractable hardtop, they'll also provide entertaining drives in the winter. more...
Mazda6 V6 Ups the "Zoom-Zoom" Ante
Mazda's largest sedan continues to be a compelling drive as it reaches about the middle of its life span.
The Mazda6, like the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and about a thousand other models, actually occupies the "mid-size" rather than the "full-size" niche – and is, in my never humble opinion, one of the most attractive sedans on the market these days. It's not only easy on the eyes, though, it also performs its function as a practical four door family car very well.
It's fun to drive, too. more...
Mazda CX-9 "Crossover" SUV – Big and Comfy, with "Zoom"
They've upgraded its looks and features a bit for 2010, but at heart the Mazda CX-9 is the same big SUV it has been since its introduction. And that's a good thing.
Not a lot needed to be changed. Heck, my chief complaint is that they still use red illumination on the instruments, and that is not only about as minor a beef as you can have, but whether or not it's even a beef at all is something clearly in the eye of the beholder.
So what we're left with is a 2010 CX-9 that's still big, still roomy, still comfy, and still fun to drive. Okay, it doesn't give the driving joy of a Porsche Cayenne, but it's definitely a Mazda and that means it has their famous "Zoom-Zoom" in its DNA, even if the vehicle is the size of a guest house. more...
Mazda CX-7 and Mazda6 – Can Less Zoom-Zoom Be a Good Thing?
Can downsizing a vehicle's specs supersize its appeal? Mazda hopes so.
For a company that has prided itself on the concept of "Zoom-Zoom" for many years, Mazda may seem to be doing a silly thing by "down-powering" its CX-7 SUV. Yet that's exactly what it has done for the 2010 model year. Likewise, Mazda's lovely 6 sedan is also available with engine choices – either a four banger or a V6. What surprised me was just how competent its four cylinder engine is; the V6 would really be a case of gilding the lily, not that I mind gilded lilies! more...
Mazda 3 and MX–5 A little – and a lot of – Driving Fun
Mazdas are a blast, even if you don't go beyond their most basic entries. And if you do go beyond – to the fabulous MX-5 roadster, for example – it's a blast heard around the world.
The most basic entry is the Mazda 3, the Sport version of which I reviewed a few months ago and fell madly in lust with. more...
2010 Mazda 3 - Long Live "Zoom-Zoom"!
You certainly can't accuse Mazda of false advertising for using "Zoom-Zoom" as their slogan.
The phrase captures the Mazda driving experience beautifully, whether you're behind the wheel of the RX-8, MX-5 Miata, the CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers or, the topic of this piece, the little Mazda 3.
The previous 3 was a huge success for Mazda. According to them, it sold nearly 1.8 million vehicles in over 100 countries since its 2003 launch and won more than 90 automobile awards, including the 2004 "Canadian Car of the Year".
So it was with gusto that I tackled the brand new Mazda3 Sport, the souped up, wagon version of the base 3. It sports a fresh new look and a list of standard and optional equipment that made my head spin considering the car's price. more...
Acura RDX Vs. Mazda CX-7 – a Head to head Matchup
Which is better, luxury performance, or classic "Zoom-Zoom"? Or perhaps more accurately, which of these popular SUV's turned my crank the most after spending back-to-back weeks with them: the Acura RDX or Mazda CX-7?
I drove the Acura RDX first, a vehicle I like very much and which would be on my short list if I were looking for a machine in this class. It's a little higher end than the Mazda CX-7, with more technology and stuff. Naturally, it's also a few grand dearer. Not that the CX-7 is some kind of dinosaur. more...
Mazda 5: A little Van with a little "Zoom-Zoom"
Other than some tweaking of options, Mazda’s little six seater hasn't changed much for 2009 – and that may be 'cause this miniature minivan didn't need much changing anyway.
Although if I had my druthers (and obviously I don't), I'd like to see the 5 come with just a little more "zoom zoom." more...
New Sedan Ups Mazda's "6 Appeal"
One of the best looking and most fun to drive Japanese sedans is even better for 2009.
It's the Mazda6 , which the company says is all new from stem to stern and top to bottom – and which surely looks and feels that way. In fact, so far as its looks are concerned, this is one of the best-looking sedans on the road today, sporty and modern and lovely to behold. And that's saying something; the previous 6 was one of the nicest styling jobs around, yet park it next to the fresh 6 and the previous generation looks positively frumpy. more....
Mazda Tribute a Blast from the Past
Mazda's Tribute small SUV is one case in which the manufacturer's famous "zoom zoom" slogan doesn't quite apply. It's probably because the vehicle is a victim of time – it's from an era now past. more....
Mazda MX-5 Tops Its Own Act!
Mazda's little bundle of joy was reborn about a year ago, moving beyond the loveable and classic Miata with a new look, new power, and a new, shorter name: just plain MX-5. At heart, it's still the joyful little Miata, and now, with the addition of an optional power-operated retractable hard top, it's even better. more....
Mazda CX-7 Hauls People, Stuff, Butt
Minivans are out, at least if you're Mazda, and that may not be too bad a thing. more....
Big Mazda "Crossover" SUV - "Zoom" with a Bird's Eye View
It's big, it's comfy and it's roomy. Oh yeah, it's also a Mazda and that means it's pretty nice to drive.
"It" is the Mazda CX-9, the company's new flagship SUV, er, crossover. It's basically a bigger version of the CX-7, and features a windshield raked steeply, big, multi-spoked wheels and three rows of seats meant to hold up to seven people. Mazda describes the CX-9 as being aimed at "couples and families who want to drive a stylish, smart vehicle that fits their lifestyles" and says the CX-9 combines "the practicality of an SUV with the outstanding performance and luxury of a sports car." more....
Mazdas 3 - a Zoomy
Sedan and a ZOOMY! Wagon
No matter what flavor you choose for it, Mazda's 3 is a slick little car that offers a lot of fun wrapped up in a lot of practicality.
The 3, nee Protégé, is available in three flavors: four door sedan, five door
sports wagon (the Mazda3 Sport) and the Mazdaspeed3, the really hot version
of the wagon. Mazda claims on its website that
the 3 is a combination of "exhilarating driving performance, emotional styling
and high levels of craftsmanship". more....
Mazda MX-5 -
Talkin' 'bout Regeneration
Once it was called the Miata, and it turned the automotive
world on its ear. The little two seat roadster took all that
had been great about open top motoring as personified by
the classic British sports cars and added new technology
and the legendary dependability of Japanese cars. It was
an instant hit and has continued to be a wonderful and popular
fun-mobile ever since then.
But nothing stands still, and now the Miata's just the MX-5 and, though it probably
won't have the impact on automobiledom that its previous self did, Mazda's little
bundle of joy has been reborn as an even more terrific open top sports car. more...
Mazdaspeed 6 – Family
Sedan or Road Rocket?
Take one of the best looking four door sedans on the market,
add a turbocharger and a bunch of other tweaks and what do
Very nearly driving heaven, if sporty performance is the
Holy Grail for which you’re searching.
So it is with the Mazdaspeed 6, the hottest version of Mazda’s
terrific mid-sized sedan. Like the Mazdaspeed Miata I drove
last summer, the hopped up Mazda 6 loves to perform – and
this time it does it without forcing you to leave the kids
and the luggage back home. more...
Mazda 5: A People and Stuff Mover
Mazda’s new six seater looks like a mini-minivan (a
microvan?), but Mazda prefers to call it “the Zoom-Zoom
MAV is yet another in a long series of acronyms or nicknames
companies use, perhaps to avoid the “soccer mom” image
minivans and other utility vehicles have gotten over the
Thus we have “sports tourers” such as Mercedes
R class, “CUV” Crossover Utility Vehicles such
as the Subaru B9 Tribeca, “CSV” Crossover Sport
Vans such as the Saturn Relay, “SAV” Sports Activity
Vehicles such as BMW’s X5. Next maybe we’ll get “PASH-V’s – People
And Stuff Hauling Vehicles. more...
Turbocharger Widens the Smiles as Miata eats up the Miles
Well, is my face red. For a happy reason: a week
spent under the hot summer sun behind the wheel of Mazda’s
turbocharged Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata. I spent so much time
roaring around the back roads with the roof down that I ended
up being broiled medium well, which for a guy who doesn’t
go outdoors except to drive cars, is quite something. And,
other than the sunburn, I loved every minute of it!
The Mazdaspeed Miata takes everything that makes the basic
Miata wonderful and ups the ante to move the little critter
from being a great fun car to being a great and
fast fun car. more...
Well, they certainly arent kidding.
I mean, Mazdas zoom zoom slogan can be
applied in the real world to the experience of driving such
fun cars as the Miata and even the 6 sedan. But take it to
its ultimate expression and you have to be talking about
the RX-8, the latest generation of the companys rotary-powered
sports cars and an absolute blast to take out on the highway.
The gorgeous RX-8 follows on the heels of the popular RX-7,
but ups the ante over that great car in several ways. First,
it features a new generation of the rotary engine, which
Mazda calls RENESIS. This power plant is nothing
short of remarkable: in my top-of-the-line test RX-8, Mazda
manages to get 238 horses and 164 lb.-ft. of torque from
an engine comparable to 1.3 litres! Incredible and
dont let those power/torque specs fool you; they may
not be as high as some of the competition, but this car is
no slouch by any means. more...
Can a station wagon be cool? Can it be sporty?
You bet! The days of a station wagon being a stodgy family
hauler are long gone and some of todays wagons are
wonderful blends of function with form. Take the Mazda 6
Sport Wagon, for example.
The Mazda 6 has been winning awards ever since it was introduced
for the 2004 model year, and the new wagon version copped
the 2005 AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada)
Car of the Year Award for
Best New Station Wagon. I can see why. The 6
Sport Wagon is a blast to drive and you can haul stuff
with it, too!
For what more could anyone ask? Well, possibly a manual
transmission for those who dont want to be accused
of being shiftless
but even there Mazda has thrown purists a
very nice bone in the form of a terrific 6 speed automatic
with a pretend manual mode thats almost as good as
an honest to goodness manual tranny with a clutch. Almost.
In a market segment that features such venerable Japanese
entries as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, carving out
a market share is going to require more than just a great
It has to be a great car that's different from its direct
And thats what Mazda has done with its terrific 6
four door sedan. It goes head to head with Accord and
Camry (and others, of course), but whereas those other two
models are refined and fully featured and all-round excellent,
the 6 also adds its own substantial measure of fun
to drive to the mix. And that makes a
big difference. more...
Mazda's "cute ute" Tribute is a nice small SUV
with good performance both on and off the road, plenty of
features, and good value overall.
I first had a chance to drive the Tribute when it debuted,
at a media event where they sent us out off roading up a "road" I probably wouldn't have even tried walking up if given my
druthers. That experience showed me that the Tribute is truly
happy to perform off road as on city streets.
Most people don't do serious off roading in their SUV's
however, so my recent week with the 2005 Tribute was spent
on asphalt, in urban and rural driving that would probably
match most of what the Tribute would experience in the real
world. And it reinforced my earlier opinion that the Tribute
is a good SUV. more...
The Mazda Protegé is far more fun to drive than it
has any right to be.
After all, its Mazdas entry level vehicle, a
supposed econobox that competes with the likes of the Honda
Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Accent and the rest. Yet when
you get behind the wheel and take off, even if the cars
handicapped by an automatic transmission as my tester was,
you find yourself having a really good time driving the thing.
Actually, this is exactly what Mazda wants you to discover
about the car. The first page inside its brochure for the
Protegé reminds you, however ungrammatically, that fun is
both a noun and a verb, and that its time to put your
foot down. more...
Mazda's Protegé 5 is a definite success story.
After having driven a bumblebee-colored sample when the
car was brand new on the market, I was very impressed and
figured the car would sell boatloads. And it has; it's hard
to drive very far near where we live without seeing multiple
examples of the little wagons zoom zooming around.
And deservedly so; Protegé 5 is a nice car.
For those who may not have yet experienced such sightings,
the Mazda Protegé
5 is the attractive five door hatchback/station wagon that
appears to have spawned (or at least beaten to market) a
host of imitators including the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe
and Suzuki Aerio. It's probably the most subtle and attractive
of them all, styling-wise, and that isn't a bad thing though
beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. more...
Zoomy Little Mazda Rocks
The brand new 2002 Protegé 5 is a cute five door
hatchback/station wagon that appears to be aimed at the youth
How do I know? Well, the bright "vivid yellow" model I drove,
which came complete with black racing stripes running its
length (giving the overall impression of a giant bumblebee),
pulled in more stares per mile than any vehicle I've driven
recently, and most of the admiring gazes came from teen and
So if you want to be a real babe magnet, this may be your
car, but I felt like a mid-life crisis guy trying to look
cool. It was quite embarrassing
The bright yellow would also be a magnet for traffic cops,
especially if you drive the Protegé 5 with any kind
of elan. more...
Mazdas First Sport Ute a Legitimate Mazda-piece
Mazdas first time at bat in the SUV market has resulted
in a home run. The Tribute feels as at home on the mountainside
as on the city streets. I know this because, while the weather
(and my nerves) didnt allow for any off-roading during
my week and a half with the 2001 Tribute ES, I had the opportunity
to go four wheeling in one at a media junket last fall.
At that event, we were given a mountainside you cant
call it a road on which to test the Tributes
mettle. To make a long and humiliating story short, I chickened
out long before the Mazda did; in fact, the Tribute never
lost a beat as it handled the mud, gravel, boulders, and
inclines of what turned out to be a real torture test. more...
Mazda Miata - Going Topless with a Fair-weather Friend
Any car that's this much fun must somehow be bad. But Mazda's
MX-5 Miata sure feels good!
The Miata has been around for over a decade, and has almost
single-handedly re-carved the niche made famous by those
honored British sports cars of decades past. Except the Miata
has the advantage that it not only gets you where you're
going, IT GETS YOU BACK AGAIN!
What a concept! I've owned three MGB's and loved them very
much, though since I'm not mechanically minded I ended up
on the side of the road with a dead "B" so many times that
I finally gave up on such junk. My last
"B," bought brand new, was by far the worst and turned me
off British cars for years. I've never owned a Miata, unfortunately,
because when it was introduced the kids had come along and
the Miata wasn't practical for our lives. more...
New Millennia for the New Millennium - Luxury Sedan Top
of the Line
Mazdas newly-styled 2001 Millennia is a comfortable
luxury sedan that offers a lot for the price.
I first drove the Millennia for about half an hour at a
media junket, and I liked it. I had it for a week this time,
which gave me a much better feel for the vehicle. It's the
first of three Mazdas I'll be driving over the next few weeks
and, from my experience with the Millennia, it should be
The handsome and stylish Millennia S (my tester was a lovely
metallic red with a beige/gray leather interior) is powered
by a 210 horsepower, 2.3 liter, 24 valve DOHC V6 that uses Miller
Cycle technology. The base model Millennia has a more
conventional, 2.5 liter V6.
Patented in the 1940s, the Miller Cycle is said to
give the power of a 3 liter V6 with the fuel economy of a
2 liter. It uses a Supercharger (which forces extra air into
the engine) and compresses the air inside the cylinders differently.
The result is said to be a 15 per cent increase in power.
I can't attest to the fuel mileage (I tend to have a heavy
foot) but the powers certainly there. It's smooth,
too, coming on quickly and evenly; from a standing start
I'd be at 50 m.p.h. before I knew it.
This was embarrassing in playground zones
Mazda Minivan a Comfy People Mover - 2001 Model Pleasant
The minivan market is nothing if not crowded, so it pays
for a marque to offer something unique if it wants to make
Fortunately for Mazda, it has never been reluctant to tread
its own path, as witnessed by its embrace of such non-mainstream
stuff as (for example) the rotary and Miller engines.
The 2001 MPV is a fairly straightforward example of the
minivan species, but it boasts a few things that set itself
apart from the pack. Add them all together and you end up
with a thoughtful and comfortable family vehicle. more...
Mazda Pays Tribute to Sport Utes
- 2001 Model Line Intros SUV
Mazda has finally jumped into the SUV market.
The Japanese carmakers first Sport Ute is the 2001
judging from the test drives in which I participated, its
a fine unit thats surprisingly apt off road.
A Mazda media junket to Vancouver, British Columbia, to
premiere its 2001 model year lineup was my first opportunity
to see the Tribute up close, and I was quite impressed.
Tribute is a cute ute, a small SUV in the vein
of Toyotas RAV4. It comes in two basic configurations:
a four banger, 5 speed manual and a V6 with a four speed
automatic. Both offer front and four wheel drive, though
4WD is optional on the entry level DX. more...