The Mazda CX-5 has zippy handling, an upscale and comfortable interior, and lots of available technology, putting it near the top of the super-competitive compact crossover/SUV class.
The five-passenger CX-5 is redesigned for the 2017 model year. The outgoing model was already excellent and the newly revamped 2017 model is even better.
The CX-5 is available in three trims: Starting prices range from $24,045 to $30,695. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive can be added to any trim for $1,300.
For 2017, there’s only one available engine: the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The old 2.0-liter engine is no longer available. Gone also is the manual transmission; now all models have a six-speed automatic.
Before the makeover, the CX-5 was already one of the top performers in the segment and it’s even better now. It drives more like a sporty sedan than a crossover. With its responsive steering, it’s particularly fun to drive on curvy back roads. The ride is smooth with rough roads barely noticeable. You’ll find enough power for most driving situations. Put it in Sport mode if you want more dynamic performance. The CX-5 is not available with a turbo-charged engine so it’s not as quick off the line as some rivals. On the plus side, there’s also no turbo lag when you hit the accelerator.
Fuel efficiency is pretty good for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with a combined rating of 26 mpg. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant and upscale. Materials look and feel good; many are soft-touch. My Grand Touring tester boasts leather with metal trim. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Adults in both rows of seating will enjoy decent leg- and headroom, although the back seat is best suited to two adults. A reclining second row is now standard in all CX-5 models.
Cargo space is average for the segment. There are 30.9 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 59.6 cubes with the rear seats down. This is a bit less space than the outgoing model had. The rear seat folds 40/20/40, giving you options in hauling passengers and cargo. If you’re hauling something long, you can fold down the middle rear seat, leaving the outer seats in place for passengers. The rear hatch has a power opening and you can also program the height.
I’m a fan of Mazda’s intuitive infotainment system. It’s operates similarly to what you’ll find in an Audi or BMW. The control knob is located between the two front seats. The seven-inch touchscreen is freestanding on the center dash. If the vehicle is stopped, you can use the touchscreen. Otherwise, you use the knob. Once you’re used to the system, it’s a breeze to operate. The system responds well to voice commands. I had no trouble making phone calls and entering addresses by voice. It would be nice to have an old-school button for tuning the radio, though.
The CX-5 has lots of available tech that you’ll normally find on high-end vehicles. Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support is standard. This system works at speeds up to 18 mph. If the driver doesn’t react, it will stop the vehicle to prevent a collision. Other available tech includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and rear cross traffic alert. You can also get rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive headlights and automatic high beams. My tester has a head-up display with speed limits and traffic sign recognition.
Zippy and fun driving dynamics
Convenient 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo
Infotainment system easy to use once you get the hang of it
Not as much cargo space as some rivals
Reliability ratings not as good as some competitors
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay not available
My tester starts at $30,695. Cargo mat is $70. Retractable cargo cover is $250. Premium Package is $1,830 and adds driver seat memory with two positions, six-way power front passenger seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, active driving display and windshield wiper de-icer. Delivery fee is $940 bringing the grand total to $33,785.
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 should be on your test drive list if you’re shopping for a compact crossover. Its performance, comfort and good fuel efficiency make it a top contender in this competitive segment.