By Kevin Harrison
Last week I had the opportunity to try the latest compact crossover from Mazda. Unfortunately for me, that opportunity only lasted a few days before it had to move on to the next auto writer. A full week is generally the norm.
Thankfully for Mazda, a few days is really all you need to form a decisively positive decision on its worth.
Now looking more like a baby CX-9, Mazda has evolved its design language dubbed ‘Kodo’ which means “soul of motion”. Sleeker headlights and tail lights are now featured (and if you go with the GT, which was the trim of my tester, both are standard LEDs). The headlights merge nicely into the bigger reworked grille. My tester came with 19 inch wheels that admittedly looked smaller due to the design.
Inside, my tester’s white cream leather seats provided an airy feel to go along with the premium design. Mazda has catapulted past the competition with interior design in my opinion with little things such as a dial for the infotainment system placed between the two front seats which minimizes reach. The infotainment screen itself is more integrated with the rest of the centre stack. The buttons appear to have been recalibrated to have a more pleasing sense to the touch.
Interior room will be good for most, though the CX-5 is still outdone by some of its competition such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox which offer more interior room.
Powering the new CX-5 is a 2.5 litre SKYACTIV four cylinder. If you want this engine, you’re required to get an six-speed automatic. A 6-speed manual is available on the base trim, but you will be relegated to the less powerful 2.0 litre engine which produces 155 horsepower. The 2.5 generates 187 horsepower and 185 pound feet of torque. This is more than adequate from most, but it isn’t exactly the most thrilling engine in the world. Also, there seems to be an oversight made by not offering any paddle sifters.
Steering and handling is more dialled in than pretty much any of its competition. If you’re looking for a performance thriller though, you’re best to keep your search limited to hot hatches. No matter how hard Mazda or any other company for that matter tries, there’s no getting away from the fact that higher ride heights impede handling abilities.
Official fuel consumption ratings are 10.2 L/100 kms city and 8.3 highway. During my three days with the CX-5, I did all city driving and returned 11.4 L/100 kms. That is well off the mark, but in fairness, I did do a lot of short trips.
All in all, the CX-5 is definitely worth a look, but the value is probably best had at the mid-trim GS. You still get a decent amount of niceties along with the 2.5 litre engine standard. If luxury is more your game, then the GT is certainly a class above while the CX-5 overall is a class above when it comes to handling abilities. If space and versatility is more your thing, then there are certainly roomier options out there. With that said, I’ve never heard of any CX-5 owner complain of a lack of space.
Regardless, the CX-5 impresses more than it disappoints.
Base Price: $24,900
Price As Tested (includes fees): $38,495