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By Dan Heyman – wheels.ca
On the surface, it may look like not much has changed for Mazda’s hot-selling CX-5 CUV for 2019.
Truth be told, on the surface, not much has. There are some new 19” wheels and some auto-folding wing mirrors – which, admittedly, I’m not sure constitutes a “new styling addition” or not. Probably not, but they’re nice to have nevertheless, folding as soon as you lock the car or have it lock itself, which happens about two seconds after you close the door. Bit extreme, that.
But oh, never judge a book by its cover and all that. Or do, because styling changes or not, I maintain that the CX-5 is the best-looking vehicle in the mid-size CUV segment; indeed, if it weren’t for the Volvo XC60 or Infiniti QX50, I would say it takes the luxury mid-size CUV segment to the cleaners in terms of styling, too. The head- and taillight treatment is right on, the five-corner grille fits perfectly within the rest of the front fascia and the overall proportions are spot on. I really have a hard time finding anything wrong with the exterior styling of the CX-5.
Actually, that’s not entirely correct in the case of my car’s Eternal Blue Mica paint.
At first, I thought it was elegant enough. After getting a small coating of roadspray, however, I began to think of it more as “dull” and “apologetic”. Doesn’t help that it has to compete on the CX-5’s colour swatch with Soul Crystal Red Metallic, which is one of the best factory colours applied to any CUV, ever. Far as I’m concerned, if Mazda only offered that colour and maybe Machine Grey Metallic for the CX-5, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Inside, things have been updated a little as well, but you have to be eagle-eyed; 2019 sees the addition of cooled seats, which actually has forced the climate control knobs to shrink in order to accommodate the extra buttons. The rear seats also have a slightly different shape for increased comfort but not to worry: they still split 40/20/40, which is one of the features Mazda pioneered with the CX-5 and is still great to have today. Basically, what it means is you can have a child seat back there (as I did), but keep room for an occupied second seat as well as the ability to fit longer items.
“Psshaw”, I hear you saying. “New seats, new climate control – whatever. I want to hear about infotainment.”
Of course you do, because you’re considering a new CUV and if you talk to manufacturers, they’ll tell you that you’re no different from about 90 per cent of their buyers.
In that light, Mazda has become the most recent manufacturer to join the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto train, making it standard on all CX-5 trims. It can also be retrofitted to older CX-5s at the dealer.
Now, I’d say I’m a fair-weathered fan when it comes to Apple CarPlay. It tends to work as advertised from the outset, but the main thing I use it for – that most would, I assume – is music playing. Shouldn’t be a problem except I use Google Play Music, and rare is it, in any vehicle, the app works properly. Online conspiracy theorists are saying that it’s Apple’s way of forcing you to use their music app, and that may be true. All I know is it doesn’t tend to work.
So, it didn’t surprise me when the same issue occurred with the CX-5. What did surprise me, however, was that this was the first time I actually had Apple CarPlay go completely off the rails. I couldn’t scroll through lists, couldn’t make selections – the works. Eventually, after 2-3 minutes of this, the app finally gave up the ghost and shut down entirely, damning me to Mazda’s native interface. Like your pup when he lies down in the middle of a walk, it wasn’t about to start up again, either. I had to turn the engine off, lock the car and get back in. It proceeded to work without a hitch after that (except for the Google Play stuff, but that’s no fault of Mazda’s) but to me it suggests that it’s not so simple to offer these services on a system that has roots in a time before thy existed. Of course, neither app is a for-pay option (unless you’re retrofitting – I own a ’17 CX-5 and after this experience, I won’t be taking advantage of that offer), so at least you know you haven’t spent extra dollars on a somewhat lemony feature. Plus, the sound through the 10-speaker Bose system is good no matter which interface you’re using – Bluetooth, CarPlay, AM, etc. – so it makes it a little easier to forget about all that chicanery.
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