Active safety systems are a very welcome addition to modern cars. According to a 2010–2014 IIHS study, they’re proven to reduce rear-end crashes by about 40 percent. Systems with auto brake also reduce injuries, and having some sort of active safety system could also save you on insurance. I’ll admit this system has saved me at least once, so I think they are a must given today’s overly distracted drivers.
In my experience, some work better than others, and intervention ranges from overzealously alerting you for obstacles that are nowhere nearby to only intervening when absolutely necessary. The CX-5’s Smart Brake Support is definitely on the touchy/overzealous side, so much so that a few colleagues and I have experienced it intervene too early and way too aggressively.
Associate online editor Michael Cantu: “The system slammed on the brakes for me too early after the car in front came to an abrupt stop. I had plenty of time to respond and could have come to a complete and controlled quick stop if the system hadn’t reacted. Instead, I came to a full-ABS and tire screeching halt, fearing that a car behind me would hit me. Luckily there wasn’t one close to me.”
News editor Alex Nishimoto: “I was driving in the right lane when the car in front of me began slowing down for a turn. There was a car in the lane next to me, but I had plenty of room to move over and pass the car that was about to turn right. As I was making the lane change, the forward collision warning sounded and I came to an abrupt stop in between the two lanes. The car behind me had to brake hard to avoid hitting me, and the driver was visibly upset—and had good reason to be.”
Fellow photog Jade Nelson had a similar experience to Michael’s, and I experienced what Alex described, too. In each situation, we all felt we had enough room to safely pass or stop, but the CX-5 thought otherwise and slammed on the brakes, which itself could’ve caused an accident. I’ve had other cars slightly tap the brakes or alert me first before intervening, but none were as aggressive and eager. I was left hoping the guy behind me sees while I stomp on the throttle trying in vain to get the car moving.
Were we following too close or driving too aggressively? Maybe, but I’ve never had other cars scare me like that. I feel like Mazda needs to recalibrate their Smart Brake Support system, along with the blind-spot monitor to be less aggressive or at least allow the driver to change how and when it intervenes. Right now it only allows you to change the warning distance. Despite all that, I’ll still take the CX-5 over a vehicle without any kind of collision alert/mitigation.