Giveaway

Here's how to nominate a local hero to win a Mazda Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition

Mazda is asking people across the U.S. to nominate a community hero.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

It's safe to say that 2020 has been a year of firsts for most of us. Whether it's working from home, not being able to visit friends and family, or becoming the teacher for your household. Some are going above and beyond and Mazda wants to recognize them.

The Mazda Heroes: Honoring the Human Spirit program looks to recognize individuals who have "selflessly dedicated themselves to their communities throughout 2020". Through Mazda Heroes, Mazda North American Operations will select 50 deserving people and provide each hero with a piece of its history, a Mazda MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition.

100th Anniversary Special Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata side The company recently celebrated its history with the release of the Mazda MX-5 Miata100th Anniversary Special Edition. Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

"This year marks Mazda's 100th Anniversary. We had hoped this time would be filled with moments of celebration and appreciation for our fans, employees and partners. But given the many tragic events of 2020, we decided to express, in another way, our brand's unique heritage of trying to make things better," MNAO President Jeff Guyton said.

"In April, we launched our Essential Car Care Program to give free oil changes and car cleaning to healthcare workers across the U.S. Throughout this initiative we heard how grateful our dealers and employees were to be in service to those selflessly giving back every day. This inspired us to develop the Mazda Heroes program, which will honor individuals supporting communities and share their stories in a moment when people desire inspiration in their lives."

Those nominated can be teachers, community members, doctors, nurses, first responders, faith leathers, restaurant owners, compassionate carers, or, really, any persons who have stood out for their efforts during this intense time.

Here's how to enter a nominee. Stories can be submitted now through Oct. 25 at www.MazdaUSA.com/mazda-heroes for a chance to be honored as a Mazda Hero. Fifty individuals will be selected based on their demonstrated selfless acts, creative approaches, and contributions to community. Honorees will be announced beginning Dec. 2.

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The CX-5's styling is sharp and clean.

Mazda

Crossovers have clearly become the family vehicle of choice. Minivans and large sedans are far less common than they used to be as buyers opt for the relative plushness and more generous space offered by utility vehicles. That's not a bad thing, but many people will find the increasing levels of sameness in the crossover market to be off-putting.

Thankfully, Mazda is here to help keep things interesting. Its CX-5 takes a different approach than its rivals. Where vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V focus on comfort and efficiency over almost everything else, Mazda managed to jam in loads of vehicle feedback and engagement. Behind the wheel, the crossover feels and sounds much more alive and responsive than its competition. Jumping out of a larger vehicle and into the CX-5 felt like a shock at first, as the Mazda's steering wheel delivers real, actual feedback and transmits a picture of what's going on underneath the vehicle, which is something not often seen outside of expensive performance vehicles.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5's cabin is more upscale than its rivals. Mazda


Engaging Powertrains

The CX-5's base four-cylinder engine is fine, but the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is where things start to get interesting. It bumps the standard mill's 187 horsepower to 250 and gives off a pleasing turbo whine under heavy throttle. It pairs almost perfectly with the six-speed automatic transmission and delivers surprising power and torque. My test vehicle's all-wheel drive gave the CX-5 a surefooted feel, and from experience I can say that it's worth the added cost if you live anywhere with legitimate winter weather.

There are a few tradeoffs that come along with the CX-5's level of driver engagement, largely related to interior space and noise levels. While the Mazda's cabin is comfortable and is in no way low-rent, a great deal of wind, road, and drivetrain noise make their way into the vehicle at all times. You could argue that this is just another expression of the CX-5's connection with its driver, and you'd be right in some cases. At many times, however, such as when taking the kids to school or just running to the grocery store, it gets tiresome. Your five-year-old won't care about how good the steering feel is when they have to keep asking you to crank up the volume on their podcast story. The noise level is most noticeable around town with the constant stop and go of traffic.

The other main drawback with the CX-5, at least for families (like mine) that don't travel lightly, is interior space. Thanks to its curves and beautifully sloped roof, the Mazda's cargo hold is not as spacious as some of its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, or Toyota RAV4. That dramatic shape also makes the rear seat feel tighter than it reads on paper, but thanks to a friendly ride height and large rear door openings, parents will have no issues with loading kids in car seats.


2021 Mazda CX-5 A sloping roofline can make rear-seat headroom challenging for taller people.Mazda


Great Tech and Safety

Mazda bumped the CX-5's infotainment screen size from 7.0 to 10.3 inches across the board for 2021, but there's no touchscreen here. Instead, the system is controlled using a rotary dial and volume know that are mounted behind the gear shifter in the center console. It's a responsive and fairly straightforward process to use and control the system, but scrolling through long menus or trying to wade through several options using the rotary controller becomes tiresome and distracting at times.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 was named a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That award is due in part to the crossover's excellent performance in crash tests, but also comes thanks to its long list of standard advanced driver aids. All models get a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warnings with lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a smart brake support system, and high beam control. My top trim tester also got a driver attention alert system, front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree monitor.

It's hard to ignore the quality, value, and fun that the CX-5 brings to the table, even considering how good its competitors have gotten. With a price tag that maxes out under $40,000, the Mazda's driving experience and plush interior should put it at the top of shoppers' lists. Its few drawbacks don't spoil the overall package, and only really present a problem for families of four or more – like mine. Those people, myself included, should be shopping for a slightly larger vehicle, anyway, and for them, there's the Mazda CX-9.


2021 Mazda CX-5 The CX-5 is one of the most fun-to-drive crossovers on sale today.Mazda

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The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is a fresh edition for the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

One of Toyota's most efficient cars is getting the blackout treatment. Like other Nightshade editions Toyota puts out, the 2022 Prius Nightshade has all the requisite black accents while maintaining its heralded powertrain.

The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is available in front- and all-wheel drive. Buyers can add the treatment to Prius L Eco, LE, LE AWD-e, XLE, XLE AWD-e and Limited grades. It comes in the buyer's choice of Midnight Black Metallic, Super White, or Silver Metallic paint job. Front-wheel drive models ride on standard 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels while AWD-e cars get 15-inchers with black insert and lug nuts.

The exterior of the car also gets black headlight accents, mirror caps, door handles, color keyed rear deck spoiler and shark fin antenna.

2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

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Each of the models is powered by the Prius's 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, which is paired with two electric motors. A continuously variable transmission is standard. All-wheel drive models get an EPA-estimated 51 mpg in the city, 47 mpg on the highway, and 49 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive versions do a slightly better 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway, and 52 mpg combined.

Inside there are standard SofTex-trimmed trimmed, heated, power adjustable front seats and a SofTex-trimmed heated steering wheel and semi-gloss black center console. A 7-inch infotainment touch screen is standard, as is a six-speaker JBL sound system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa come on every model, as are an auxiliary jack, three USB ports, a wireless phone charger, and one 12-volt outlet.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard and includes a pre-collision system with low-light pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, bicyclist detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and road sign assist.

All Prius models come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Toyota's hybrid battery warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date, whichever occurs first. The hybrid system warranty is for eight years or 100,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date.

This latest member of the Nightshade family means that there are 11 Nightshade editions in Toyota's stable. The Prius is the first hybrid to get the treatment.

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