For starters, there is not much new for 2015 on the CX-5 (other than some additional standard features) compared to the previous model year, but that’s OK. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a saying that applies here.
While the CX-5 isn’t as fancy-looking as luxury crossovers of a similar size, it’s still an eye-catcher compared to others in its price bracket. The sharp look manages to stand out a bit in a segment where many vehicles can be very similar.
The interior is comfortable up front, but since this is a compact crossover the back seat can get a bit tight. There is seating for five, but I would recommend this vehicle for folks who don’t plan to have a large brood in the car every time they go out, as those with a crowd to transport will likely need a full-size SUV.
ENGINE, HORSEPOWER, RIDE QUALITY
I was impressed with the overall driving experience in the CX-5, which carries a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and boasts 184 horsepower. Acceleration from a stop was the only aspect of the drive that was a tad bit disappointing, but the braking and handling was superb and once the car is going the engine is very responsive to the gas pedal.
My test vehicle came with a six-speed automatic transmission, and was all-wheel drive.
There are three trim levels -- Sport, Touring and Grand Touring -- and you will downgrade to a 2.0-liter engine if you choose the the Sport model, diminishing your power in the process (to 155 hp, a significant difference).
In terms of keeping the quiet in and road noise out, the CX-5 does a pretty good job -- but not the best I’ve experienced in this segment.
The tech interface in the CX-5 was not the best I’ve used. It had some strong features like Pandora streaming, but organization and interaction could have been better designed. (And for full transparency, there have been concerns expressed by many buyers about ongoing system glitches on the tech interface in this car).
I was quite impressed with how the voice recognition worked so well -- among the best in any car I’ve tried, especially when commanding the navigation system and having it understand lengthy addresses -- not always a given with these type of systems.
The 5.8-inch color touchscreen display was bright and clear and featured a helpful rearview camera.
Among the other technology features in my test vehicle were: Keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone auto climate control, heated front seats, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, control buttons on the steering wheel, and the navigation system (optional).
Safety is an essential factor to consider when buying a car, and the CX-5 scores high here. Overall government safety ratings are very high -- 5 stars almost all around -- so you can feel confident the vehicle will protect you if a worst-case scenario happens.
There are standard safety features, including: Rear door child safety locks; Front seatbelt pretensioners; turn signal mirrors; stability control; traction control; passenger head restraint whiplash protection system; front and rear head airbags; dual front side-mounted airbags; emergency braking assist; and tire pressure monitoring,
On some trim levels, you can also add advanced safety features such as Blind Spot Monitoring.
I averaged about 25 mpg during my time in the all-wheel-drive 2015 Mazda CX-5. This is in line with the listed numbers (24 city/30 highway/26 combined), which are impressive numbers for this segment. So that’s another bonus point to check off when comparing this its competition in the compact crossover segment.
Side note: If you opt for the base Sport trim level with manual transmission, your mpg improves to 26 city and 35 highway.
The base version of the 2015 Mazda CX-5 with a manual transmission can be yours for about $22,000, an impressive price for this segment. My test vehicle, a Grand Touring all-wheel-drive model, had a base price of $29.220 and its final price came to $31,760 after features including the tech package (navigation, HID headlamps and Adaptive front lighting) were added.
This car is priced to sell; and costs about half of what you’d pay for a similar-sized crossover in the luxury level. And to be completely honest, the luxury compact crossovers are in no way worth twice the CX-5, which performs nearly as well in many aspects and has nearly as sharp of a look too.
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 is among the best compact crossover SUV options on the market, and is affordably priced, so it should compete very well in this segment. It’s a bit tight in the back seat if you have a full house, so for larger families I’d recommend a full-sized crossover, but if the size works for you there’s a lot to like about this vehicle.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.