The exterior of the CX-5 has some standout features, including its unique grille, but the real treat comes when you go inside.
I found the quality of the materials inside, particularly the leather-trimmed upholstery, to be among the highest quality in the segment (some competitors don’t even have leather as an option). Seats were very comfy, even on long drives, and you get an almost luxury vibe from the vehicle.
Also well-done inside was the design and location of the controls, which are to-the-point and uncomplicated.
Cargo space is ample in the CX-5, but it’s worth noting that some of the competition does offer more space, one of the few knocks on this vehicle.
The CX-5 is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, offering 187 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. The vehicle features a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Sport mode.
Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can opt for all-wheel drive if you live in areas where that will be helpful.
Performance is where the CX-5 shines compared to the competition, which tend to be more bland in terms of driving experience. I truly enjoyed driving the CX-5, something I rarely can say when I am behind the wheel of a crossover. It’s not that there’s a ton of raw power in the CX-5 (you won’t leave people in your dust at the traffic light), it’s just the overall feel and experience and how it hugs the turns. It’s clear that Mazda appreciates a quality driving experience, as anyone who’s driven one will tell you, and this ride is no exception.
The CX-5 features a 7-inch screen with a rearview camera, and the infotainment system is controlled by a center dial that is easy to use and master. A navigation system is optional.
You get comforts offered like heated front seats, plus safety features like Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist..
The CX-5’s official fuel mileage numbers are 24 city/31 highway/27 combined, and my real world experience backed up those numbers. Compared to most of the opposition (Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4) it’s equal or better. The one exception is the Honda CR-V, which does top the CX-5’s fuel numbers. Though in my experience, Mazda’s CX-5 offers a better overall driving experience than you will find in Honda’s CR-V.
The CX-5 I tested was a loaded Grand Touring model that came in at $32,785; Base model starts just over $24K, which is on par with the starting prices for vehicles in this segment. Price is pretty consistent among these smaller SUVs, so it’s really more about how you like the look and performance of the various competitors.
As is usually the case the Mazda, they are a bit of an underdog in this category, selling just over 100,000 CX-5 vehicles in 2016, vs. the 350,000+ for the division leaders from Toyota and Honda, but don’t let those numbers fool you. It’s not an indicator of the quality of the CX-5.
People who love driving, and don’t want to assume they’ll get a boring car just because they are purchasing a crossover, will gravitate toward the CX-5, which is aimed at people who love the driving experience.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.