Susan Frissell

Mazda keeps getting better and better. One can never doubt the sportiness of their vehicles, and I have yet to meet a serious driver who doesn’t like the Miata MX-5. The redesigned and refined sport-utes from Mazda are no exception.

We test-drove the CX-3 on a roadtrip and enjoyed it, but felt it too small for our needs. Sporty and agile, the CX-3 is quite a bit smaller than the CX-5 which offers a more engaging driving experience. A roomier SUV with comfortable seating and desirable features, the CX-5 is more practical.

Our test vehicle, the Grand Touring AWD version, came in over $33,000 and equipped with Mazda’s optional engine, the 2.5-liter. At only 184 horsepower, we found it wanting. Delivering 30 mph on the highway, the CX-5’s 2.5-liter is quieter than some, but just not enough horsepower to suit.

Acceleration is weak, although better than with the standard 2.0-liter engine. Amenities and materials seemed more upscale than in years past, and we had no trouble learning all the bells and whistles. The CX-5 even comes equipped with a CD player, a plus for this driver.

For 2016, the Mazda CX-5 gets a few minor styling improvements, revised suspension tuning, added sound insulation and an update to the infotainment interface. Mazda threw in a few new options, as well, such as LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. While we find the lane departure warning system more than annoying, we know it’s a safety feature that may come in handy during those long road trips.

Mazda has also increased cabin storage, enlarged the handy door pockets, and Bluetooth is standard.
There are several trim levels available, in manual and automatic: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring versions, and in January, Mazda introduced a midyear update that includes a standard rearview camera on all but the manual Sport trim level, standard heated seats on the Touring trim and standard navigation for Touring and Grand Touring versions.

As more and more CUV’s join the already crowded market niche, the CX-5 is one of the best looking among the bunch. Others may offer a little bit better fuel economy (think: VW, Toyota), we enjoy Mazda’s sporty feel and off-road look.

Visibility is good in the CX-5, the cabin is cozy and quiet and it’s fun-to-drive. This writer has been rejecting SUV’s since their inception, mostly due to preferring a ‘performance’ sedan, but as life-and 4 dogs dictate-I may have to make a concession. Maybe I’ll miss my Miata less!!

Among the many choices in this market niche are the Honda CR-V (a favorite over time), Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester. All good choices, and worthy contenders. Which is why this decision is so tough.

The base Sport (standard 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission) sports standard17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod /USB interface.untitled

A Sport version is also available with Mazda’s 2.5-liter engine and automatic. Standard features include a 7-inch touchscreen, multifunction control knob, HD radio, Pandora Internet radio, automatic crash notification, SMS text message reading and audio system voice controls. For the 2016.5 model, a rearview camera is also standard, but optional on the earlier 2016 version. This is confusing since we thought all vehicles for 2016 came equipped with standard rearview cameras.

The Touring version adds such amenities as foglights, keyless ignition and entry, blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, a six-way power driver seat, a height-adjustable passenger seat, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system.

Our Grand Touring trim level adds19-inch , automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, heated front seats and leather upholstery. Our test model came with a few options, including cargo mat ($60), rear bumper guard ($100), roof rack, side rails ($275), door sill trim plates ($125), GT-I ACTIVSENSE package (Mazda radar cruise control, smart brake support, lane departure warning, high=beam control, $1,500), and Grand Touring tech package (Nav system, LED headlights, Adaptive front lighting, LED daytime running lights, LED foglights, LED combination taillights, Smart city brake support, Auto Dim Mirror w/Homelink, $1,505. A long, expensive list of goodies.

Mazda CX-5 interior

Mazda CX-5 interior

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 is a nice looking CUV and turns heads with it’s styling, and touring stance. It’s sporty look and athletic curves are sure to please and help it stand out in this market. It is a comfortable daily-driver and we recommend it highly.


MSRP: $29,470; total vehicle price $33,935, destination $900
Engine: 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G, 184 hp., 185 lb-ft torque
Transmission: SKYACTIVE drive 6-speed Sport mode, AWD
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Height: 67.3 in.
Width: 72.4 in.
Weight: 3,212 lbs.
Fuel Tank: 14.8 gal.
Length: 179.3 in.
Towing: 2,000 lbs.
Tires: P225/55 R19 all-season
Wheels: 19-inch alloy
Warranty: 36 mth/36-mile bumper-to-bumper, 24-hour Roadside Assistance, 60-mths/60,000-miles powertrain