|Positives: Superb driving dynamics, upscale sheetmetal, beautiful cabin with high grade materials, quieter and more refined than before, nearly every convenience you expect at this price.|
|Negatives: Overly light doors that don't always close completely, big protruding grille invites damage, no option for ventilated seats.|
|Bottom Line: The newly redesigned CX-5 is simply marvelous, making the excellent previous generation crossover seem just pretty good. Mazda took their best-selling vehicle and made it look and feel more upscale than its predecessor without losing the essence of the CX-5's drivability, utility, and style. It's also comfortable and gets respectable gas mileage numbers, a boon for families that want it all without going to a 7-passenger vehicle. The new CX-5 is an absolute delight.|
|View Our 2017 Mazda CX-5 Overview|
Mazda took a seriously hard and close look at the last CX-5 and sought to improve just about everything from tip to toe. They borrowed numerous cues from the awesome CX-9 7-passenger SUV, which we tested last year (and will test again in the coming weeks) and absolutely loved. The new CX-5 gets a bigger dose of refinement inside and out, more technology, and it addresses some quibbles from the last vehicle. We drove it for a full week to see how much better it is than the outgoing model. Read on for our in-depth review.
No one would call the last CX-5 harsh on roads, but it definitely leaned towards firm. Mazda not only kept the great driving dynamics of the new version, but it also improved the ride quality. The rest of the driving experience is also virtually peerless in the segment.
Ride Quality: The ride is smoother and more compliant with road irregularities. The car feels much better in daily driving.
Acceleration: Though the 2.5-liter four gets 3 more horses, the car's weight has also gone up due to increased sound deadening materials. Acceleration isn't astounding but, rather, adequate. The transmission shifts beautifully, and throttle response is even better than the last CX-5. In Sport Mode, the gears are held longer, and throttle response seems even better. We just wish the Sport Mode system wasn't so aggressive. It seemed like we were waiting too long for the transmission to shift at low, suburban traffic speeds.
Braking: The CX-5's brakes are strong and responsive with a solid and progressive pedal feel. They match the rest of the car's driving abilities.
Steering: The addition of Mazda's G-Vectoring Control helps the CX-5 get through turns faster and with greater control. It helps tighten steering input and response, and the feel and turn-in are excellent.
Handling: Body control in the CX-5 is one of best we've seen. It remains a benchmark for mid-sized crossovers to aspire to and feels like a slightly taller sports car. Seriously good.
The CX-5's infotainment and tech might not be the most eye-catching or the most sophisticated in the industry, but it's one of the most functional. Mazda's attention to detail and mindfulness of driver needs shows up in the new CX-5 in a big way. They're not trying to make things look the best. They're making everything work seamlessly for the driver. Currently, there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration, but it's expected in the near future. Mazda says they will be able to upgrade those who bought early
Infotainment System: The new screen no longer looks glued on the dash but integrated into it. The resolution and colors seem more vivid, too.
Controls: The multi-function Commander controls between the seats are superb. They actuate and feel fantastic. The knob is responsive with turning and tilting functions clear and easy. The adjacent buttons also work just as well.
Bluetooth Pairing: Quick and easy with our iPhone 6s Plus and our Android smartphones. No issues at all.
Voice Call Quality: Calls were loud and clear on both ends with zero transmission issues.
We couldn't identify much of a difference between the new model and the old one in photos. The shape was essentially the same. Even when we saw the 2017 model at the Chicago Auto Show, it was hard to notice big differences, but when you see them parked side-by-side, the contrasts are significant. The new CX-5 is more refined and upscale in just about every way, and it still keeps the ethos of the first (and still excellent) CX-5.
Front: The shape of the grille is the same as before, but the size and angle of it have changed for the better. Even moreso, the replacement of the horizontal grille bars with tasty black mesh makes the CX-5 look racier and more expensive. It also seems to invite damage since it juts out pretty far.
Rear: The handsome taillights look like an blending of the CX-9s and the Miata's. They're thin and sinister, and they go well with the rear end's simple but sporty styling. Mazda also does great twin, round exhaust ports, which we adore for their purity.
Profile: Mazda upped the drama without overdoing it. The single crease from the old car gets toned down and mated to a descending crease that's soft but noticeable. The hood looks longer, but the essential shape is the same, and that's a good thing. We also loved the black-highlighted 19" alloy wheels.
Cabin: As good as the exterior is, it almost gets upstaged by the gorgeous interior. All trim bits are high quality, imparting both a look and feel that's beyond the CX-5's price range. Stitching all around and the near-white leather seats make the Toyota RAV4 seem like a clown car.
Whoever's doing Mazda's interior design, he or she should get a serious pay raise that's worthy of what's been done in the new CX-5. The outgoing model's cabin was fantastic. Not only is it better than every other crossover in its price range, it even bests more expensive crossovers at the interior game. The doors, unfortunately, feel a bit on the light side (in order to keep the car's weight down and the driving experience up), and they were difficult to close at times.
Front Seats: Some of the best seats in the business, and in Parchment Leather trim, it simply looks posh, and they feel great, too. Good bolstering, adjustment, and support.
Rear Seats: The CX-5 has good rear seats that work for six-footers, but the legroom isn't huge. They are, however, comfortable for long trips.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): This is one area where Mazda made solid gains. The upgraded sound deadening works thanks to thicker front glass, more door seals, and cargo compartment carpeting makes the new CX-5 quieter than before. It was an area that was lacking, and Mazda addressed it properly.
Visibility: Great seating position and visibility all around. The standard rearview camera is an added benefit.
Climate: The heated seats and optional heated steering wheel complement the excellent automatic dual zone climate system very well. We just wish there was the option of cooled seats like the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Though the 2016 CX-5 nailed high crash testing marks, the 2017 model has yet to be tested. Mazda also throws all their safety tech at the Grand Touring trim level as standard equipment. Very nice, indeed.
IIHS Rating: Not tested by the IIHS (or the NHTSA) yet, but we expect it will be soon. The previous model attained the Top Safety Pick last year, and since the underpinnings are the same, it should do well again.
Standard Tech: The top trim level comes with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, Smart City brake support, Smart brake support (both accident avoidance tech features), lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. It's a solid set that's excellent at this price.
Optional Tech: None.
The CX-5 is well thought-out in terms of small item storage. Everything is well-placed and truly usable. The rear cargo section now gets carpet to aid in sound deadening, improving the look, feel and quietness.
Storage Space: The open cubby at the base of the center stack is rubberized and large. Very convenient for keys, phone, and other small daily gear items. The armrest isn't long, but it's deep enough for items like a small camera, snacks, etc.
Cargo Room: The 30.9 (all seats in place) and 59.6 (second row folded flat) are good capacity numbers, but they get dwarfed by the new Honda CR-V's 39.2 and 75.8, as well as the Toyota RAV4's 38.4 and 73.4 cubic feet.
Mazda makes efficient vehicles across its model line, and the CX-5 is pretty good, but not great. Given the fact that the car could use a bit more power, the naturally-aspirated four-cylilnder has less output than turbocharged models but doesn't get appreciably more efficiency. Still, at 29 mpg highway, the numbers are still quite good.
Observed: 19.8 mpg.
Distance Driven: 136 miles.
Driving Factors: We drove it in Sport Mode about 75% of the time, and that drops the efficiency. The CX-5 is so much fun to drive, it's hard to hold back, as was the case with us. We spent more time on local roads than on the highway, which also contributes to the drop in mpgs.
The BOSE premium audio system with 10 speakers sounds excellent with good bass, no distortion at high volumes, good clarity and fullness. We enjoyed listening to it throughout the week. At this trim level, the system comes standard, which is very good news for the savvy car shopper.