While perhaps not as plush or roomy as other entries in the red hot compact crossover segment, Mazda CX-5 brings a dynamic to the segment often ignored by major manufacturers. Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring is a great “driver’s” crossover, presenting sports car-like road handling, stability and agility in a quality crossover format.
Coming off of a month behind the wheel of the Mazda lineup, we were treated to the arrival of a 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 crossover with a mere 350 miles showing on the odometer. This is as new as it gets in the world of press fleet cars.
Our stunning Soul Red on black leather 2 row crossover sported some of if not the coolest looking 19 inch alloy rims in the segment — with just enough bling and “bad” to capture the imagination — Mazda CX-5 in grand Touring trim looks just a bit sinister.
2016 Mazda CX-5 Touring offers every optional feature available in the lineup, and didn’t disappoint as to available power delivered by its exceptional Skyactiv ™ fuel injected 2.5 Liter 4 cylinder 2.5 L 16 valve, DOHC gasoline engine and 6 speed automatic transmission.
Rated 184 horsepower@5700 rpm/ 185 lb-ft torque @ 3250 rpm, we found CX-5 engine performance to be exceptional where you need it — at the low to mid range, with more than adequate acceleration when called for.
If I was to change anything as to the engine, it would be to quiet this mill down just a bit at startup and idle — it’s that direct injection rattle, although a minor, non vibrating one.
Our fully optioned Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
Nicely equipped at $28,570*
+ 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
+ Bose® 9 speaker surround sound system with Centerpoint® 2 and AudioPilot® 2
+ Mazda Navigation System
SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 4-month trial subscription*
Available i-ACTIV AWD®
Dual-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter
Leather-trimmed sport seats
Power sliding-glass moonroof with one-touch-open feature and interior sunshade
Mazda delivers torque to the front wheels, in our case all-wheel-drive, through an exceptionally smooth 6 speed automatic transmission. Personally, I prefer a conventional automatic transmission over current CVT technology, although Honda CR-V does a commendable job of transferring 2016 CR-V’s torque without fault of high-revving engine search.
At any rate, Mazda’s 6 speed automatic transmission when paired with the high output 2.5 L is fluid and precise when shifting, and features drive mode selection and steering wheel mounted paddle shifting. I like the option of manual shift control.
Furthermore, Mazda has a technical trick or two up its engineering sleeve as to reducing or at times eliminating auxiliary systems related engine horsepower output drain — by disengaging the alternator when not needed, and reducing climate control fan speeds when in Economy mode. Check out Mazda’s Skyactive ™ technology here.
Mazda CX-5 just a bit thirsty when compared to the competition
While Mazda CX-5 exceeds or lines up with Honda, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Kia as to available horsepower and torque, it’s how and when the power is delivered that makes the difference in Mazda CX-5.
As to fuel efficiency, with a stated EPA, MPG of 24 city/ 30 hwy, In the Touring trim,we found CX-5 to be just a bit thirsty. However, the sport-suspension, body rigidity, and track stability more than made up for a missing 1 or 2 MPG.
The best seat in the segment
For me, standing at 6 foot 5 inches in bare feet, driver’s seat infinite adjust ability and surface comfort is foremost when considering a new car purchase. Mazda CX-5’s seat does not disappoint. For that matter, the drive and ride environment, while stark in comparison to some of the “bling” laden competitors in the uptick compact crossover, SUV segment, Mazda brings to the game a fashion sensibility that appeals to the driver in all of us.
The driver and front passenger seat while comfortable is not too aggressively bolstered. Power adjustment is good, as is the near reach accessibility of all operating and entertainment systems.
The rather high perched forward visual instills a sense of confidence in the driver, the ride will firm is not overly stiff, the confines that surround look, feel and smell of quality. We found no glaring short cuts as to fit and finish in 2016.5 Maxda CX-5.
On a safety rating side note, 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 earns 5 Star and “ Best” accolades in frontal/ offset crash tests, and exceptional standard/optional passive and active safety features.
What I’d change
Not much! However, if I was given my druthers, I’d add just a bit more head and legroom in the second row. As to dash interface, personal electronic connectivity, center stack design and center console: You know, “looks” are a personal assessment that don’t have much to do with how a vehicle performs. In short, all systems work very well in CX-5.
While the dash and center stack may look dated to some, I like the clean flowing, non cluttered look of the CX-5, it carries through from the cutting edge exterior design to the cockpit control human/car interface. It’s a Mazda trademark. I’ll leave it at that.
As stated at the beginning of the article: 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 is a “driver’s” crossover. Where this Mazda excels is where the rubber meets the road. It’s not the plushest nor the most comfortable entry in the ever-growing compact crossover segment, nor does it achieve the highest fuel efficiency in the class, although very close. If this contest was based on looks, or MSRP($21.795 to $26,465 +) alone, Mazda CX-5 would win it!
For those of you that are in the market for an affordable, near premium 2-row crossover with measurable performance tendency, this one should be on your test drive list.