How a random comment by a friend has you question why you really bought a car…
Doing my research really paid off with the last COAL. I really had to step it up and analyze the driving situation in Los Angeles along with my driving habits.
A sports sedan is great if you have a great driving location like the Angeles Crest Highway or can actually get it up to speed on the highway. I found myself planning my errands around traffic due to the Infiniti being a stick shift. It was truly a fun car but it was getting tiring. While kids hailed to the bus driver, I was getting no love, I understood why he cussed.
The majority of people in my area seemed to be driving big trucks, SUV’s, and crossovers. I found my visibility being hindered in my sports sedan, particularly when making left turns at intersections. The pot holes in the roads were also a concern and I would cringe and feel the pain in my soul when I would hit one in the Infiniti. Something had to be done.
I had to think practical. A full size truck/SUV would be nice, although I found the low return on MPG a turn off. I had no use for excess space or weight other than towing capacity. I sometimes find myself driving up to 1000 miles in a day for no reason other than me wanting to go somewhere. So those vehicles were a No.
The mid-size/crossover segment had vehicles that looked very similar. I had to choose one with styling and features to my liking, AWD was a plus I would look for as well. Nissan was a definite No as the CVT transmission was/is plagued with problems. The ever popular Honda CR-v and Toyota Rav-4 were out as well. There were simply too many of them. I needed to stand out and be unique.
I was watching Top Gear UK one day and they had the tow car challenge. It basically came down to the VW Tiguan and Mazda CX-5. I’ve seen them around the neighborhood but lacked interest until I was actually looking for one. I had to see what ridiculous challenge the boys came up with. It was entertaining and I honestly trust those guys judgment on cars.
Again I began the research to see what options and features were available. It was available with a 2.0 liter engine in base models (155hp) and 2.5 liter engine (185hp) in Touring and higher models. I wish the 2.5 had a manual transmission available, but it wasn’t, and that was okay too.
The auto transmission was not a CVT, but a true 6 speed. I researched who made the transmission. Apparently Mazda made their own stuff and in such a way to increase reliability and driving feel; described as connected like a manual transmission.
I liked the styling of the 2015 model vs. the 2017 model. The new model looked sharper and up to date, but the smaller rear tail lights made the back look plain.
The interiors were similar but I just could not get over the Satnav screen sticking out of the dashboard like that.
So it came down to finding a CX-5 with AWD in any color other than white, personally I think it makes most cars seem like rentals; to each their own. I found a used silver one available in Oxnard California, a good 60 miles away from home. I took the day from work to go look at the car and take a test drive.
I could immediately tell the shifting strategy was for fuel economy, with shifts coming low in the RPM range. The engine seemed matched to the transmission as it put down torque at low RPM, then hits a flat spot, then horsepower peaks at higher RPM. It was a different sensation than what I was used to, but this is a crossover and not a sports sedan.
I bought it the next day. I liked the styling in general other than plastic surrounding the wheel wells. I found that it was a good idea as I now found myself trying to find true off road trails to test it. No rock crawling, just enough off the beaten path to get the AWD to kick in. Mazda places and uses a lot of sensors to determine when it should kick in. I tried to squeal the tires off the line but haven’t been able to. I’ve only had it for about a year and placed around 10k miles on it. I do plan to keep it for a while so I’m not trying to push it. A limiting factor, even with the best AWD system is the tires. Mine is equipped with 19 inch rims. They certainly look nice but there isn’t an all terrain tire in such a size. I’m currently looking for rims that will fit it.
A feature that is hit or miss, depending on how you feel, is the Smart City Brake Support. It works from around 3 MPH to 19 MPH and will stop the car automatically if it determines a crash may occur.
The first time it activated on me I did not know what happened. My foot was already on the break, the car made a weird growling noise and stopped. I thought the ABS activated as its a similar noise. It sometimes activates at weird times, its almost like it’s criticizing my driving. With people being distracted by phones and on-board “info-tainment”, I think it’s beneficial.
Speaking of Info-tainment. I find the navigation on my Grand Touring model annoying. It works well when entering and setting an address, but just trying to view the map is a pain. Zooming in is either not enough or way too much. I stopped using it and just use my phone.
Setting the audio input and adjusting the sound is similarly annoying. I found it very distracting compared to having dedicated or multi-function buttons. It isn’t just phones that are distracting, its the car themselves sometimes.
The last complaint is the driver’s seat cushion. I find it gets uncomfortable after a few hours of driving. I still occasionally drive Lyft with this vehicle as well and I find myself needing to shift in the seat or get out and stretch more often than the Infiniti. It is the leather trimmed GT model and I am a “roomier” gentleman, not sure if that factors in.
The interior quality is high, not as nice as the older Infiniti, but here’s how I know. Again I picked up Bella. She had not seen the car before. Since I bought it from a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Oxnard, it had the sticker on the windshield with the Benz logo. She touched the dashboard in excitement and seen the logo after which she proclaimed in excitement “IT’S A MERCEDES!”
I laughed and explained to her it was a Mazda. She has a Mercedes ML SUV herself, so it said a lot about the quality. I kept the sticker on the window just to remind me of that funny interaction.
Bella and I started talking cars as our night was winding down after going out one night. She told me why she got her SUV. She pictured herself one day going out with her girlfriends, having a fun night of partying. She called it her “party car”. However she went on and explained that it hadn’t happened for her yet.
For the rest of the night, and a few days after I was out of it. I was lost in thought and searching for the real reason why I bought this car. I could of bought anything I wanted, but I got this.
I recall watching families as I drove around, ate lunch, or just hung out. I remember thinking that despite their economic status they were happy with having family. I figured out that I isolated myself and was so focused on making money that I never slowed down and thought about family.
That random comment by her really made me change my attitude about what I have been doing with my life. I can honestly say I wasn’t the best person when I was younger. Through the good and bad times I persisted and kept on.
In a subconscious decision, in a subconscious desire I thought that this car would bring me a family. The good money I was making was great and my job makes me happy, but not truly happy as having someone to come home to.
The reason Bella got her car hasn’t happened for her yet, and the subconscious reason I got mine hasn’t for me. But we’re both looking forward to that someday it will. This is my current COAL, my daily driver. There will be many more I’m sure, along with their adventures.
Cars can be many things to many people. They can be just disposable transport. To me they were more than that. A ticket to freedom, adventure, sometimes a home. When everything else was going wrong they became a friend. Every car has a story, I thank you all for reading and letting me share.