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In summary: don't expect diesel torque nor V6/V8 power, but the i4 power and the torque of the Mazda5 engine are decent enough to keep you going through steep hills and mountains, even with 4-5 passengers and certain luggage. And every time you think "man, this thing should have more power" think about how much you are saving on gas in average anyway
As far as power goes, I have not had problems, though only gone over 4000-5000ft passes. I can imagine power would be a bit less on a 10,000ft pass. Of course if you mean true windy mountain roads, then the 5 is a very fun ride indeed!
Just my 2 cents worth.
Doing numerous 6% and 7% grades recently the Mazda5 will continue to pick up speed if you need it to, albeit not the quickest vehicle but not bad. It has decent passing power and pull for a 4 banger on the steep grades. I was a bit surprised the Mazda5 would do 5th gear half the time on 7% grades and not work that hard.
I try to keep the rpms down and I noticed my M5 GT AT with about 750lbs of people and gear had a sweet spot somewhere close to 60mph to stay in 5th at 2400 rpms or 4th at 3000rpms on very long 7% grades. If I wanted to pass or do a faster pace it was there with 3rd gear.
One thing I have not figured out yet, when I crest a hill in 4th I haven't quite figured the trick to get the vehicle to automatically go into 5th on the down hill side. I notice sometimes I'm coasting down the hill at 60mph and my rpms are still at 2000 or so. Other times the rpms are close to 1000 rpms.
On a second note I am wondering if at this same speed you are going down hill and slightly press the break to slow down a bit will the transmission down shift. If it does then I would assume that there is angle sensor like on Honda’s and others. I only have a 4 speed transmission so can not test this theory.
As far as RPMs go, a couple things could change the coasting RPM. Once the Torque Converter locks, you will see a drop in RPMs. It may take a few seconds after cresting a hill to lock up. Also, my understanding is that the 5 can cut fuel (noticeable on cruise control especially). If normal cruising at a give speed = 2000 RPM and you see the tach drop to 1000 RPM, it could be the fuel cutting out .
That really depends on the % of grade and the engine load. Being that the throttle and fuel management are 100% electronic, you really don't know what position the throttle is in and how much fuel is being supplied to the engine to keep it running smoothly.. Effectively using engine braking does reduce fuel consumption and manufacturers are pursuing this to reduce MPG.
But I'd say there's no reason that engine braking would use any more gas than putting a car in neutral and letting it coast, since in both cases both engines are basically ideling.
Has anyone hacked their Mazda5 PCM?
I found my 06 manual shift 5, despite being heavily loaded with about 800 lbs people and gear actually got slightly better milage in the mountains, about 31.5 instead of the 31 I'd been averaging, and zero problems with power.
In fact, at one point I was " racing " a group of harleys up the cascades doing about 75 mph up the 7% grades, ( 3rd and 4th gears) and the bikes simply did'nt have the power to get around me on the short straights.
When they finally did get around me on a long straight, ( prob doing 95 mph in the process), they found I was thereafter running up their tailpipes on every corner after as the 5 could get through the corners faster than they could. I still averaged 29 mpg for that tank.
It must have ben a bit embaressing for them to have such trouble getting around a obviously heavily loaded minivan. :P
As far as the discussion of fuel cutoff on throttle lift, all modern cars do this already for the purpose of emmisions control. A engines emisions go through the roof in these conditions if the fuel is'nt cut off. I would imagine the fuel mapping shuts off whenever it would be transparent to the driver, like in periods of engine braking over some minimum rpm.