Recommendations for skid plate and other off-road mods?

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2015 CX-5 Touring
I currently have a bone stock 2015 CX-5 Touring AWD. I drive fire roads and other dirt roads pretty frequently to access backcountry skiing, rock climbing, and ice climbing destinations around CO, UT, and WY. Obviously, I'm not going 4 wheeling down trails, rock crawling, etc. But I'll typically encounter deep snow and ice (already have Blizzak winter tires), sometimes small streams to ford (maximum 12"/25cm), rutted roads, etc. I haven't had any problems or broken parts yet, but I want to be proactive where it makes senses.

I'd like to do a couple small things to my CX-5 to make it slightly more suited to that effort. So let's say I had about $1000 to spend on this - what would you recommend, in addition to a skid plate? I don't want to add too much weight or kill my efficiency, but want to increase the durability/protection of the vehicle. Thoughts?

Also - anyone found a vendor who sells a lightweight skid plate for the CX-5? I'm having no luck and think I'll have to get one custom fabricated.
 

MikeM.

MoMo
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2013 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD 2.0L
A skid plate will actually reduce your off-road performance by making high-centering more likely. The CX-5 doesn't have any chassis accommodations for skid plates that I'm aware of so fabricating one and installing it would require a good amount of engineering and design skill for it to be effective and not threaten the chassis with damage or have other unintended consequences (like changing the load paths in the event of an accident and reducing occupant safety). Consider that a CX-5 loaded with people and equipment for outdoor adventure will likely weigh over 2 tons. A skid plate must be thick enough and mounted such that it can safely distribute that weight to the mount points (which would need to be strengthened). All this weight subtracts from the vehicles rated carrying capacity too.

The CX-5 has really excellent ground clearance and, with a skilled off-road driver, can negotiate pretty impressive challenges without bottoming. But, as with any off-road challenge, wheel placement is very important. You might best spend the $1000 on a off-road driving school. This would likely give you more bang for your buck.
 
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2015 CX-5 GT AWD liquid silver
I have seen decorative skid plates for the front bumper, but these are just for style and don't protect anything beyond the bumper. Let us know if you find one.
 
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2011 M3 Touring / 2014 CX-5 Touring
That bull bar looks pretty flimsy.

Skid plates may reduce ground clearance a little bit but 8.5" of clearance isn't all that's important. Also important is approach angle, departure angle and break-over angle. Approach is bad on the CX because of the low lip on the front bumper (good for MPG though) and breakover isn't very good either because of wheel base. The only way to fix the angles is raise it on the suspension for big tires and that means some serious mods to fix geometry at all four corners that will be broke. But if done right it should also improve articulation which is also pretty bad for off-roading.

Then you're still left with the fact this isn't 4x4.

Once you get right down to it, the CX isn't a good platform to start with so that suggests to me we won't find any off-the-shelf solutions for skid plates. But if you're planning on running this thing in rocky terrain you'll NEED skid plates...and expect to tear up that front bumper lip. If you're committed to putting them on I'm pretty sure a custom modder could find points to weld on brackets to attach skid plates.
 
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MikeM.

MoMo
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2013 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD 2.0L
But if you're planning on running this thing in rocky terrain you'll NEED skid plates...and expect to tear up that front bumper lip.
Off-road driving skill is 100 times more important than skid plates. This is not the type of vehicle that anyone is going to be winching up rocky gulches like a boat out of water. I drive mine all the time on rocky backcountry roads in the North Cascades and there are plenty of rocky washouts that go un-repaired all season. Either the rig/driver is capable of traversing a washout or it isn't - a skid plate is not going to change that equation. Just go slow and easy and, if it looks like you might bottom out, a little manual rock work might be called for. A skid plate is not going to change that fact either. And I've not encountered any washouts I couldn't cross except for one where the road just ended (slid down a ravine). I've been around one washout that a Dodge Power Wagon 4x4 coming down the hill stopped and told me the road was impassable about a mile uphill. The CX-5 was able to drive right around it with inches to spare.

The one thing you are right about is the front air dam. It does scrape easier (in general) than the metal underbody. But it's not a huge deal and, so far is flexible enough that it hasn't cracked or been torn off.

But skid plates are the last thing you need on a vehicle like this. That's for body on frame vehicles, there are technical issues with uni-body vehicles and skid plates. Skid plates are either like training wheels for newbies or last ditch equipment for extreme feats of off-roading. Not the panacea that many relatively inexperienced off-roaders think they are.
 
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2016 CX-5AWD GT+Tech/ 2018 CX-9AWD GT




(peep)

IMHO...having done some not so easy trails in my CX-5, the approach angle is actually pretty good for a non-lifted truck. There is a plastic enclosure that runs the length of the bottom of the vehicle, which protects most parts from small hit's (ask me how I know). That being said, if I was going to do this regularly, I'd invest in a small lift (3" +/-) and an aluminum skid plate to better protect the underside. Oh...and some rocker protection (although the plastic trim panels do a decent job of it).

Edit - and some brush guards...creeping along a tight trail to avoid scraping the body can get old...
 

Kedis82ZE8

Contributor
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'15 CX-5 GT AWD
Body Kit Kaddis for MAZDA CX-5 (Original Japan)

Manufacturer: KADDIS
Country of Origin: Japan
Suitable: on all modifications MAZDA CX-5 c 2012 to 2015
Complete installation kit!
It does not require fitting and thinking and conjecturing!
Japanese original quality!

The kit includes:
- The protection of the front bumper
- Protection of the rear bumper
- Thresholds
- Trunk
- Fender (fender flares)
- Lift Kit
- Suspension kit
- exhaust system
- Tuning hood
- Wheels

 
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2011 M3 Touring / 2014 CX-5 Touring
Body Kit Kaddis for MAZDA CX-5 (Original Japan)

Manufacturer: KADDIS
Country of Origin: Japan
Suitable: on all modifications MAZDA CX-5 c 2012 to 2015
Complete installation kit!
It does not require fitting and thinking and conjecturing!
Japanese original quality!

The kit includes:
- The protection of the front bumper
- Protection of the rear bumper
- Thresholds
- Trunk
- Fender (fender flares)
- Lift Kit
- Suspension kit
- exhaust system
- Tuning hood
- Wheels
That's defo improving things. I've also seen some Australia sites selling nudge bars and stuff, but is anybody importing?

The lift is intriguing: I wonder what all it entails, how much articulation was achieved and how extreme the angles are on the CV joints.
 

MikeM.

MoMo
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2013 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD 2.0L
I have seen decorative skid plates for the front bumper, but these are just for style and don't protect anything beyond the bumper. Let us know if you find one.
I drag the front air dam on the ground/rocks all the time. The problem with all "skid plates" I've seen so far is they are just cosmetic "feel good" items, not something that would protect anything from a real hit of a two ton CX-5. They are just thin sheet metal attached using the same mounting holes designed for the plastic underbody fairings.

The best off-road mod would be anti-sway bar brackets with quick disconnects. That would actually improve the off-road prowess of the CX-5 without giving up the sporty street performance or tacking on a bunch of useless weight.
 
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2011 M3 Touring / 2014 CX-5 Touring
I recently googled "Mazda CX-5 Brush Guards" and got a huge return of options.

FYI
I'm sure there will be quite a few... but how many are serious? Most of this stuff sold is suitable for cosmetics: thin metal attached with sheet metal screws. That Kaddis kit in the above pictures could be the same 'Mall Cruiser' grade for all we know. I seem to remember that Japanese are famous for that kind of thing anyway.

I don't consider it 'useless weight' if it protects $10K of engine and transmission when it slips off a rock and settles onto the skid plate. I never considered myself a particularly risk-taking trekker but I did that plenty enough times to appreciate it's worth on my Rodeo.
 
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Kedis82ZE8

Contributor
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'15 CX-5 GT AWD
The best off-road mod would be anti-sway bar brackets with quick disconnects. That would actually improve the off-road prowess of the CX-5 without giving up the sporty street performance or tacking on a bunch of useless weight.
Maybe something like the Jeep system?


Not sure how profitable it would be for Mazda but a "Jeep Trail Hawk" version of the CX-5 is bound to have some appeal.
 
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2011 M3 Touring / 2014 CX-5 Touring
Maybe something like the Jeep system?...
All that's needed is disconnect one side of the stabilizer (a common practice in the off-roading community) and that shouldn't be too difficult on the CX, both front and rear, even as a field mod before you start wheeling. The only thing to look out for is make sure the bar end or the link doesn't interfere with anything: remember that the disconnected end will travel up and down freely with the opposite side wheel.

But it makes little to no sense to me making it more capable in extreme situations when the underbelly is so exposed.
 
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Kedis82ZE8

Contributor
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'15 CX-5 GT AWD
All that's needed is disconnect one side of the stabilizer (a common practice in the off-roading community) and that shouldn't be too difficult on the CX, both front and rear, even as a field mod before you start wheeling. The only thing to look out for is make sure the bar end or the link doesn't interfere with anything: remember that the disconnected end will travel up and down freely with the opposite side wheel.

But it makes little to no sense to me making it more capable in extreme situations when the underbelly is so exposed.
Sorry.. I'm going a little OT...

I disconnect the end links on one of my quads and it does greatly enhance articulation. Of course I have full underbody skid plate package as well... it can take on some gnarly terrain but obviously a single track motorbike will go further.



If you really want to get to far reaches with something motorized a Rokon can't be beat. Power to front wheel as well. Design hasn't really changed in forever. They are made to allow for repairs on the trail though.

 
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