Safety Technology

Mazda (finally) all-in on rear seat reminder technology

Mazda is going all-in on keeping kids safe in the car.

Photo by Getty Images

Some automakers are already installing rear seat reminder technology across their lineup. Mazda is taking longer, but is committing to having the alerts installed in every U.S.-sold vehicle by 2025, if not sooner.

Their commitment comes as part of a larger consensus, announced in early September, among automakers that are part of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, which account for nearly 100 percent of the U.S. light-duty vehicle sales.

"Children die each year from heatstroke suffered when left unattended in the back seat of passenger vehicles," said John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers. "As most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in vehicles, our members are taking action to help prevent these tragic losses by adding rear-seat reminder systems to prompt parents and caregivers to check the back seat before exiting their car."

According to the Auto Alliance, the agreement between stakeholders will expedite the inclusion of the technology, which could have taken four to eight years to finalize had they relied on the government rule-making process.

"Sadly, each year, we see children die from heatstroke suffered when left unattended in the back seat of passenger vehicles – most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in the vehicles," saidJeff Guyton, President, Mazda. "The commitment by Mazda and the entire automotive industry to install rear seat reminder safety systems underscores how such innovations will help parents and caretakers keep their children safe."

Currently, Mazda sells the Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-3, CX-5, CX-9, and MX-5 Miata in North America. A CX-30 crossover will be arriving on U.S. shores in 2020.

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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 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan goes on sale in 2022

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup, the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan will make its way to U.S. shores in early 2022, bringing with it 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

Distinct features set this Mercedes-Maybach apart from others including a Maybach-exclusive front bumper, engine hood trim strip, illuminated seamless door handles, and stainless steel illuminated panels. Buyers can request a two-tone paint job from their choice of 10 different color combinations.

The flagship model's power plant is a 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine that gets it from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The all-wheel drive sedan is able to deliver up to 31 percent of its toque to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear. Mercedes touts the car's rear-axle steering, which makes the model easy to drive on city streets. A special “Maybach" dynamic selects drive mode comes standard on the car.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The car has an available panoramic sunroof.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has fine-tuned the car to include active road noise compensation that the automaker refers to as headphones with noise suppression. The automaker says that the technology works like headphone systems with noise suppression tech by using counter-phased sound waves to balance out exterior sound waves. The technology is deployed via the car's Burmeister High-End 4D Surround Sound System.

The inside of the car also gets Nappa Leather upholstery and finishes including on the headliner, dashboard, instrument panel surrounds, armrests, glovebox, window frames, pillars, sun visors, backrest pockets, and door sill panel inserts. The rear seats feature diamond quilting, contrast piping, and the Mercedes-Maybach emblem. There's also wood trim, a Maybach pedal cluster, and Maybach-specific scent.

Owners can use the electronically-powered comfort doors at the rear, which can be controlled via a button or hand gesture. The same goes for the power sliding panoramic sunroof.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan's interior is luxe.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Adaptive rear lighting in the back seat of the car changes the LED spotlights' position and size. This allows for everything from reading lights to lounge-style lighting.

Two 11.6-inch high-resolution entertainment screens sit in behind the front seats. Between the rear seats are available silver-plated champagne flutes and a refrigerated compartment. Two matching holders in the center console hold the flutes in place when the car is on the move.

Mercedes has installed new rear seat airbags are designed to deploy in a gentle manner when needed.

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