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2018 Mazda CX-5 remains a driver’s SUV Featured

Apr 16, 2018 Hit: 34 Written by 
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 continues the brand's legacy of making sporty and fun-to-drive vehicles of all sizes.
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 continues the brand's legacy of making sporty and fun-to-drive vehicles of all sizes. Photo courtesy of Mazda

With each new model year, even if there aren’t wholesale changes, any Mazda vehicle needs to continue to demonstrate some key abilities in order to maintain the brand’s reputation -- and chief among them is a stout driving performance.

I recently spent some time in the 2018 Mazda CX-5, a vehicle that has long been a favorite of mine in the mid-size SUV category, and I’m back with a full report on how it holds up to expectations.

LOOKS

While not a lot is new in the 2018 CX-5 due to a significant remodel one year ago, you do get some changes for the new year, including a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel.
This exacerbates an already well-appointed interior in the CX-5, not at luxury level but sharper looking and more comfortable than most vehicles in the segment. You’ll find mostly soft surfaces, high-class touches on the dashboard. and leather-trimmed seating. A power moonroof is offered for a nice visual touch.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Mazda CX-5
  • Price as tested:: $34,685
  • Best feature:: Agility, well-appointed interior
  • Rating:: 4.5 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: SUV buyers who wants a top-notch driving experience and a equally top-notch interior

An impressive amount of storage room is offered and the CX-5 seats five comfortably. You can also save settings on the driver seat. Heated front seats are offered.

Getting to the outside of the CX-5, I love the grille and overall tough but sleek exterior design. It features 19-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires.
My main concern on the design front is that rear visibility was at times disappointing.


HOW’S THE RIDE?

The 2018 CX-5 features a Skyactiv, 2.5-liter, four cylinder engine. This is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, with a manual mode available via the shifter.
The final numbers on this ride are 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. Thankfully there is an all-wheel drive option; but front-wheel drive is standard.

The CX-5 features traction control, independent front and rear suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars and electric power assisted steering, as well as hill launch assist.

In terms of describing the overall drive feel of the CX-5, I’ll say it’s not most powerful engine in class … or the fastest in a straight line … but it still does offer one of the best overall driving experiences available in class in terms of agility and handling. The CX-5 hugs the turns well and is nimble at all times.

Road noise is kept out of the vehicle very effectively, and visibility in front and rear is quite clear.

The CX-5 is still very much a driver’s SUV. It’s for people who want some feeling in their commute, not just to sit in a boring econobox that barely moves when you give it input.

This focus on driver experience has become Mazda’s calling card after some years when they were still finding their way, and it’s a smart approach to reaching a new audience.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Regarding infotainment, I like Mazda’s system overall, and it’s controlled by a center dial. But some shortcuts could have been added to make it more user-friendly and quick to access things. Everything is shown on a 7-inch color display with rear camera mounted in the center dash, which is an appropriate size and location.

Blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert now come standard on the 2018 CX-5, which is an upgrade for this year. Also standard in 2018 is a forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, which could potentially save lives.

 

Other highlights are: Rain-sensing wipers, heated power mirrors with turn lamps, LED headlights with auto on/off, LED fog lights and daytime running lights. Helpful features include tire pressure monitoring, radar cruise control, keyless entry and push-button start.

A powerful Bose 10-speaker system is optional. Music choices include AM, FM, HD radio and Satellite radio.

Mazda’s navigation system followed through on getting me where I needed to go, and my test vehicle also featured lane departure warning and lane keep assist.
A optional Premium package offers: Active driving display with traffic sign recognition; heated rear seats; heated steering wheel and windshield wiper de-icer.

Overall the government test results are strong on the CX-5, with excellent safety ratings (four or five stars in all categories).


MPG
The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2018 CX-5 are 24 city/30 highway/26 combined … I averaged 24.4, but did mostly city miles. When put up against its direct competitors such as the Ford Escape, Chevy Equinox and Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 holds up very well, at or near the top of the category. Fuel economy has been boosted a bit from previous years

PRICE
My test vehicle with all the trimmings was just over $34,000; base price starts about $30K on the top trim level Grand Touring model that I tested, but the base Sport model starts at about $24,000. You get a 60 month or 60K powertrain warranty.

These prices are in line with the segment and very competitive.

BOTTOM LINE

With the CX-5. Mazda continues to offer a midsize SUV aimed at people who love driving. It’s not necessarily the fastest in terms of raw power, but it’s arguably the most agile, comfortable  and well-designed.

==============

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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