Home » The Mazda CX-5’s Controversial Infotainment System Has Finally Gone Touchscreen

The Mazda CX-5’s Controversial Infotainment System Has Finally Gone Touchscreen

Mazda Touch It Ts1
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For a fiercely unique automaker like Mazda, it’s weird to see it give in to peer pressure. Model year 2024 brings a round of light updates to the popular CX-5 compact crossover, stuff like new paint colors and a new Carbon Turbo trim. However, buried deep in the list of minor tweaks is a significant sentence. I’ve bolded the really important bit for emphasis.

The 10.25” full-color center display features the latest Mazda Connect infotainment system that can be controlled with the multi-function commander knob and is integrated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that now feature touchscreen functionality.

Well, that’s a pretty big deal, is it not? Just last year, our very own Jason Torchinsky railed against Mazda gating customers into using the infotainment knob (even though I think it’s brilliant). It turns out that many of you also think the knob is brilliant, as seen in the comments section of that article. However, mass appeal is important when it comes to sustaining a car company’s future, and Mazda has bit the bullet and gone with limited touchscreen capability on the CX-5 for 2024.

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Jason Mazda Infotainment

It’s worth noting that Jason isn’t the only automotive journalist with beef over Mazda’s knob. The list of outlets complaining about the knob range from Jalopnik’s “The Mazda 3’s Infotainment Dial is Distracting, No Matter What Mazda Says” to Edmunds claiming that a touchscreen on the Mazda CX-30 crossover “would be welcome.”

Mazda Cx 50 19 Interior Front Seats

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This isn’t really that surprising; the Mazda CX-50 launched with touchscreen CarPlay functionality (it’s buried in a submenu but it’s there) and the new CX-90 full-size crossover also supports touchscreen interaction within phone mirroring. This HMI addition hasn’t yet made it to the Mazda 3, MX-5, or CX-30 models due to a different physical infotainment screen, but it seems to be slowly spreading across the Mazda model range.

My22 Cx5 Brand13 Mazda Connect Apple Android 0058

On the one hand, this re-introduction of a touchscreen explicitly for the purposes of phone mirroring should placate shoppers put off by Mazda’s infotainment system. While the screens themselves may be a bit of a reach and the native infotainment software may only support knob inputs, most people will spend the rest of their driving lives in CarPlay or Android Auto, so knob control becomes more of a concept than a reality.

2022 Cx 5 2.5 Turbo Signature 12

On the other hand, fingerprints on touchscreens are a scourge and once you learn how everything works and go through the order of operations, the knob controller makes perfect sense. Sooner or later, you’ll memorize the clicks required to flag traffic in Waze, respond to a voice text, and change your current playlist. If you are a very logical person, this setup should make perfect sense to you, but most people aren’t. Most consumers crave familiarity, which is why J.D. Power Initial Quality reports flag anything unintuitive as a problem. Coincidentally, stop putting any weight in IQS reports, they’re made almost entirely of bullshit. Once you develop the muscle memory, you can make key inputs with your eyes off the screen which is entirely safer than poking around on a touchscreen.

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Mazda Cx 5 Interior 1

In any case, I’ll keep using the knob, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mazda ships a few more CX-5 crossovers thanks to this touchscreen for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a sensible move, and there’s a chance we could see more Mazdas on the roads because of it. Or not, who knows? I mean, I live in Canada — I see them more often than American crossovers regardless, but that’s the weirdness of different markets, right?

(Photo credits: Mazda)

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Artemis Mini
Artemis Mini
10 months ago

I have a 2016 CX3 (fully loaded AWD) which was kind of the precursor to the CX30. Believe it or not, it has a touchscreen for this older model CUV. It has a knob navigation dial like the new models, and frankly, I barely use the touch screen feature, as I got used to the inefficient user interface of the infotainment system. Funny though that if you remove the navigation SD card, you can connect your smart phone and it displays so much better on the car’s own navigation display.

Pierre Sirois
Pierre Sirois
10 months ago

My 2018 Mazda 3 GT Hatchback already had touch screen, but it only works when you’re stopped. I got it retrofitted with Apple Carplay and touch screen still works when stopped.

SolamenteDave
SolamenteDave
10 months ago

We have a ’21 CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve (la dee da!) for my wife’s daily. She LOVES the car, but truly hates the knob and wishes the screen was a touchscreen. It doesn’t come into play too much, she uses the controls on the steering wheel most of the time. But anytime she has to use the knob, she rants about it.

Douglas Christ
Douglas Christ
9 months ago
Reply to  SolamenteDave

Same car situation here! My wife doesn’t mind the KNOB. But the problem is since I don’t drive it all the time, when I drive it I have to look down to find the knobs and buttons so it is much more dangerous distracted driving than a more heads up touchscreen.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

Sorry we Boomers wont build the sufficient muscle memory, and while you children say so what we dont care what you want, as a sizeable portion of the car buying public, bigger than any other, if we wont buy it the system going bye bye!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

You’ll age out of driving soon enough and we can have cool things

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
10 months ago

I have a 2017 Mazda3, and they can take my knob when they pry it from my cold dead hands.*

*Also the rallying cry for adolescent boys, but for a very different reason.

Jason is wrong about the Mazda knob. Once you get used to it, it’s a better and safer way to use the infotainment system while driving. The only downside is that it has a learning curve you probably won’t get past during a test drive or press event. My wife’s Accord forces you to look away from the road longer while you reach for the correct button on the touchscreen. You have to keep hitting the down arrow to scroll through your music instead of spinning the knob all the way down to ZZ Top without even looking away from the road. I know it takes about 3 spins to reach Soundgarden and just 1 for Clutch.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
10 months ago

It works for you because your car doesn’t support carplay.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
10 months ago

It does if he had the upgrade done at the Mazda dealership like I did for both of my 2016s. 2016+ Mazda models are able to be upgraded to have AA/CP.

Brett Morris
Brett Morris
10 months ago

My 2022 has CarPlay and i use it exclusively. I still don’t want a touchscreen.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
10 months ago

Where are the voice operated systems we were promised? Also touch screens not only wear out faster than knobs they cost more to replace. But all this shit will be out of date long before your 90 month car loan is paid off but after your warranty expires.

Last edited 10 months ago by Mr Sarcastic
MrMcGeeIn3D
MrMcGeeIn3D
10 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Not really. Since CarPlay and Android Auto are dependent on your phone, not your infotainment system, they’re updated constantly, and will continue to be updated until Apple/Google either drop support for older cars, or cease to exist altogether. I have a 2018 Mazda 6, and its still compatible.

Thirdmort
Thirdmort
10 months ago

2018 Mazda3 Touring (with Android Auto/Carplay). I have never once wanted to use the touchscreen in my car. I love my rotary dial. I agree about the pry from the cold dead hands comment ha!

MrMcGeeIn3D
MrMcGeeIn3D
10 months ago

Same. Using the knob and taking the time to build the muscle memory is way better than trying to aim your finger at a touchscreen in a bouncing car. My wife isn’t even all that tech savvy, and she got it almost as fast as I did. You don’t even have to take your arm off the armrest to use the knob. A few quick flicks and a press and you’re there.

Alexk98
Alexk98
10 months ago

I have a 2022 CX-30 and I absolutely ADORE the scroll wheel and lack of a touch screen. I traded in my ’18 Golf and the livability difference is massive. Within a month of getting the car I was able to breeze through various menus in Apple Car Play with next to no thought, maybe a quick glance to confirm, but now I can do most navigation without even looking at the screen at all, just quick swaps from app to app with ease. I get adding a touch screen for the people out there unwilling to learn or adapt, but please please please keep the scroll wheel, its just better than a touch screen. The only exception being typing addresses into google maps, but at that point I just type it into my phone in park anyways, or queue it up while walking to my car.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
10 months ago

I used to have an A4 before they all went touch screen, so I’m familiar with both styles of interaction, and while controlling Android Auto with it was interesting, it was not fast. What I think gets lost in this discussion is that a touch screen allows direct interaction with any item on the screen, but with the knob, you have to loop through all of the available controls on the screen each time. Have you ever tried to navigate a website just by using tab? It’s like that. It’s entirely doable, but it’s a lot more work and you need to be a lot more aware of how far you’re moving your cursor. While it’s not nearly as bad, using a rotary is a lot more like the Lexus “mouse” control that everyone hated than an improvement over touchscreens

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
10 months ago

My 2016 CX-5 is too old for this tomfoolery. IIRC touch screen works when the transmission is in Park. Since I only pair my phone for occasional calls the knob and buttons work fine since I don’t have to strain for the screen. For navigation I have my phone in a $5 vent mount. Since Android Auto doesn’t work properly with Dexcom G6 it’s actually more convenient to have the phone where I can swipe and see my glucose reading

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
10 months ago

This makes sense because people are dumb. As do most things. The knob is/was more intuitive than just a touchscreen, but I’m not surprised people can’t grasp it.

I have a ‘16 Mazda6 that I bought new in October 2015. I’m approaching 8 years with it and I have zero complaints about the screen and/or the knob control. I had the car upgraded to have Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and the knob works fine for CarPlay for me since I’m an iPhone user.

I even got a little wireless adapter thing on Amazon for ~$50.00 that enables the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to be able to be used without me having to keep the phone plugged in and subsequently degrading its battery health.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
10 months ago

Sooner or later, you’ll memorize the clicks required to flag traffic in Waze, respond to a voice text, and change your current playlist.

Not really.. Both my cars are solely rotary controlled, and so was my previous car. You don’t get that muscle memory because it depends where the cursor is. I’ve only briefly used CP for work calls, but I can say for sure AA is not rotary optimized in any way. I think Coolwalk has made this even worse, because before I can even scroll I need to see which panel of 3 the cursor is in, then tap the rotary in that direction to get into the panel, then I can scroll around that panel. Look at the screen, figure out where the cursor is, tap the knob right to enter the music panel, scroll a bit, look down again to see if you’re near where you need to be, push the knob, scroll some more…It’s not intuitive, takes more time to complete any task and just doesn’t make any sense when I could just tap an icon. I’ve been driving cars with rotary controllers since 2018 and I am 100% on team touchscreen.

Brian Bjornstad
Brian Bjornstad
10 months ago

I’ve had my 2022 CX-5 for a year and a half now, and I don’t mind them adding touch functionality but I can say I would never use it. The knob is just better, even if it’s not as immediately intuitive as “toucha the button.”
My only hope is that they stay the course on the placement and form of the infotainment screen; it’s perfect they way they have it. If they have to move it down and closer it’ll really ruin the ergonomics (and clean look) of the cab.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
10 months ago

This is a good move by Mazda, not because the touchscreen was in any way necessary, but because it shuts up the legions of people who don’t daily drive a Mazda and think a touchscreen is a requirement. You can tell this is why they did it, as the screen is still positioned where it’s safe to look at rather than where it’s easy to touch.

Within a day or two there is no need to look away from the road to perform common tasks. That day never comes with a touchscreen – if there is any minor imperfection in the road your hand goes flying and you don’t hit what you wanted to. I exclusively used touchscreens before owning a 4th gen 3 and now I don’t think I can go back to a non-knob interface. I use Android Auto every day on my commute with 0 issues.

Edit: The other thing descriptions of Mazda’s interface never mention is the 4 buttons surrounding the knob. Those are critical to the system’s success. When I’m in Android Auto, the music button takes me to Spotify or whatever is playing. The nav button takes me to Google Maps. The back button lets me quickly go back to previous screens in Spotify and the home button brings up the app drawer. It’s significantly faster than a touch interface in this way. These buttons (and the knob) are placed right where your hand naturally falls from the armrest – no arm motion is necessary.

Last edited 10 months ago by PresterJohn
V10omous
V10omous
10 months ago

Once you develop the muscle memory, you can make key inputs with your eyes off the screen which is entirely safer than poking around on a touchscreen.

This is just as true of touchscreen controls. Unless I’m doing something rare (setting the clock twice a year or something) I don’t need to give the screen or controls more than a quick glance to do whatever I need.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Have you actually compared both? Your hand has no support so you still have to watch your hand move to the screen as its your only feedback. Combine this with a bumpy road, or even one bump at the time you are about to touch the screen. Resting you hand on a control knob is much easier to do than try to hit something on a touchscreen with your outstretched hand bouncing around.

We have a Mazda CX50 and an Audi A5 with the control knob and they are both brilliant compared to touch screens Ive used. The placement of the screen in the CX50 is perfect as well. Im not sure it would be as a touch screen.

Ben
Ben
10 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Disagree, at least for me. I’ve been using the same touchscreen in my truck for over 8 years now and I still find that I spend more time looking at it when I need to do something than the physical controls. The lack of tactile feedback requires you to keep your eyes on the screen longer because you have to watch until after you’ve pressed the button to make sure you touched the right thing.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
10 months ago

This is the right move. Even for the OE interface, touch was only disabled while the car is in motion. At least in the case of AA, there was no hook available to tell AA whether the car was in motion, so they opted to leave the touchscreen off all the time. That was a mistake.
Using the knob within Mazda Connect is fine. Better than fine. It works great.
But using the knob on AA/CP, which were designed as touch interfaces, is not so great.
You get used to it, but it defeats the purpose of the knob, which is meant to help you keep your eyes on the road. Instead, I have to take my eyes off the road to pay closer attention to where the cursor is on the screen. It’s kind of awful. If there was some way I could get the touchscreen to work in AA on my 19 Miata, I’d do it instantly.

Data
Data
10 months ago

I have a 2017 Mazda 6. I used the touchscreen in my driveway on the first day only. From there I learned to use the knob and can navigate easily without taking my eyes off the road. The screen is to far away to use comfortably while moving and also locks out above 5mph anyway (Mazda 6, no clue on the new CX-5).

I do feel sorry for the poor saps buying these. Mazda has a history of “Ghost Touch” failure that plagued everything they made. I assumed that was why they took away touch functionality. Since most failures occur around year 4, Mazda washed their hands of it and said we’ll fix it for $1,000.

While I own 2 Mazda’s now, I won’t consider another one. Touchscreen ghost touch dancing all over the place at stoplights and stop signs, navigation SD cards corrupting (An ongoing issue at least into 2022 apparently), and a manufacturing defect where the clear coat flakes off the rims (supposedly corrected before my car was built so not covered, but my 4 rims appearance doesn’t lie). The Soul Red paint is also really thin and falls off when you look at it sideways.

LTDScott
LTDScott
10 months ago
Reply to  Data

Same with my wife’s CX-9, and I just bought a used 2015 Mazda 3 and the touch screen doesn’t work (glass failure) but it doesn’t bother me at all

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
10 months ago
Reply to  Data

I have heard a lot about the ghost touch issue and I’m wondering if it has something to do with the screen being out in the sun a lot. They also had issues with the glue inside the screen degrading from heat and/or light.

Is your car garaged, by chance? Mine always has been and I haven’t had any screen issues.

LTDScott
LTDScott
10 months ago

I bought my 3 from a guy who parked his car in a garage. When I bought the car every corner of the screen had some crazing.

Literally one day of ownership with the car parked outside and the cracks spread across 1/4 of the screen. Really annoying. Thankfully a replacement screen was only $25 and looks fairly easy to install.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
10 months ago

My brother has a ’23 and I honestly really liked the infotainment the few times I had to use it. Took a bit of learning, and there were a few times I wished it was touch screen (mostly while using Android Auto).

Brett Morris
Brett Morris
10 months ago

Touchscreens do not belong in cars, period. If they are going to do it, I hope it is like some other Mazdas with touchscreens in the US market: something that deactivates once the car is in motion.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

I have an aversion to these types of controls because the nuns in my grade school used to rap my knuckles with a yardstick when they caught me playing with my knob.

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