Two years ago, I declared my undying affection for the Mazda CX-5. The “Skyactiv philosophy” cute-ute was, I reckoned, pretty close to perfect. There was just one little problem: although the manual-transmission variant shone in venues as diverse as Laguna Seca and the back roads surrounding Monterey, the CX-5 struggled a bit when its two-liter powerplant was combined with an automatic transmission. So what, right? Obviously the stick-shift is the one to have.
Since most people don’t feel that way, however, Mazda has decided to address the power issue by making its 2.5L, 184-horsepower engine standard equipment in Touring trim and above. To check out what difference the bigger mill makes on the road, I drove a CX-5 nearly twelve hundred miles in the course of seventy-two hours.
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