Travel, Drive, Photograph, Write, and RepeatThere are many, many places I want to go. I have been lucky to have checked off a few, but we still have a long way to go. I always enjoy reviewing a car on my travels. Typically these are rental cars, sometimes they're my own while road-tripping. The best trips are spontaneous, sometimes arduous journeys that we talk about for a lifetime.   

Does anyone still like the Mazda CX-5? I sure did when I bought one in 2013. I was a fan of it right up to the point when we sold it. I stumbled into a new-ish rental CX-5 during a recent visit to Maui, Hawaii. Just like our CX-5, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Maui visit. After this last trip, I might like the CX-5 more than Maui...

Both this image and the CX-5 aren’t hard on the eyes.

The Mazda CX-5 was released with rave reviews. The best compact SUV you could buy at the time. It was sporty, which was the opposite of the RAV-4 or the CRV. These main competitors from the land of the rising sun have never been considered sporty. Their relegated to senior living centers, pharmacy parking lots, and the economically fiscal. The compact sport utility vehicle was the worst cool car you could buy... until it wasn’t.

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Into the jungle we go! We had a 2014 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD. This is a 2016 non-awd.

Flash forward a few years and everyone is buying a compact SUV. Sedans are for the oddballs, weirdos, and nonconformists. No one wants their car to be without less than five doors or lower than eight inches off the ground. We need doors. We need height. Both of these things say utility. It says, “I can drive to the trail head, with my dog, and be green”.

We saw every park and playground on the west side of the island #dadlife

What about the pleasure of driving? Where did it go? A compact SUV cannot be sporty. It is too tall, has too many doors, and its green... None of these things add up to fun. Automotive fun has always been made with limited doors, a copious amount of power, a splash of exotic materials, and a spoonful of quirks. This is the recipe we were taught by grandma and grandpa, we will forever remember the smell of the cooking.

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Black rock on Kaanapali Beach. The coral isn’t as nice as it used to be.

Alas, we cannot have it all, but with the CX-5 you can have a little bit more than the rest. The CX-5 is a fun car. Period. Have the other manufacturers made great progress in their ‘practical but fun’ CUV market? Yes. Absolutely. But I’ll argue the CX-5 did it first. It was the first to take the ZOOM-ZOOM formula and inject it right up the keister into it’s compact sport utility.

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Descending into Lahaina with a view of Lanai.

I have one bone to pick with this car that still hasn’t been fixed since I bought my CX-5 over six years ago. You need to shove your foot so far up its KEISTER in order to get it motivated. You really need to spur it out of the chute. The emphasis on green, and maximum mpg is painfully obvious. Ordinarily this is ideal, but for you and me (who I assume enjoy the ever-living-piss out of all our cars) it is a little disappointing. Why can’t we get a sport button that actually does something?! They never give us a button that does something, it is always a placebo or a weak attempt at jostling my gentlemen’s parts.

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Maybe that’s my problem? We can’t get everything we want with one car. If you want something sporty buy a third car - mark these words. The CX-5 is mostly good at everything and had we not needed more room for two children, I’d probably still own one. I unfortunately found myself taking a cold shower with all my clothes on after we sold ours as it lost 50% of its value in 5 years and 40 thousand miles. You read that correctly!

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The two 4Runner’s didn’t want to be friends with anyone. They’re as common here as a Civic anywhere else.

The best CX-5 is the nicest one you can find, USED. The gal that bought our former car got a good deal. Even this rental (albeit being a rental) could be a good buy. You want a used CX-5, just not this CX-5. This one was driven by a bunch of intoxicated tourists with an Italian right foot, on the Hana Highway at break neck speed, and down from Haleakala while turning the brakes into molten metal.

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From the Iao Needle looking back into the ‘valley’.

Our vacation with the CX-5 went off without any issues. It took us where we wanted to go with a computer generated number of around 26 mpg. The car did excellent. Even in traffic.. TRAFFIC. I go on vacation to get away from traffic. Unfortunately, the Hawaiian islands are seeing record tourists... everyone stop going here. I used to enjoy Maui, now it’s busier than I’d like - time to try Kauai (again for the 5th time) and see if we like it any better than the current island favorite - the Big Island.

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The CX-5 reminded me that I don’t always make the best automotive decisions but sometimes I do. The CX-5 is a great all around car for nearly everything you’d need to do in the real world. The same can be said for Maui. It is the best island to go to - unless you’re picky like me. I sold our CX-5 out of an abundance of needing room and convenience (read: minivan power doors). I won’t be going back to Maui for a while as I desire a vacation with less vacationers. Hoards of people suck. I want to be left alone on vacation.

An epic sight from Napili towards Molokai.

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Special shout out to the Expedia Vacation ‘Expert’ who kept trying to sell me activities. After all the guide books and internet surfing I should have done THIS to him.

BONUS! Awesome plate spotted. NSX and 911 on the same plate?! I cannot choose which is the best... I’ll do them both on one plate!