Introduced as an all-new generation early last year, the popular and stylish Mazda CX-5 continues to impress with its overall functionality and notable efficiency achieved with its conventionally-powered SKYACTIV powertrain. The five-door compact crossover vehicle is available with either front-wheel or all-wheel-drive, both connecting to a six-speed automatic transmission. Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trim levels are available. In keeping with the Mazda brand’s sporting image, the CX-5 is aimed at the driving enthusiast a bit more than most of its competitors, at a starting price of $24,150.
The CX-5 design reflects Mazda’s second-generation KODO – Soul of Motion design philosophy that embraces curves and subtlety, creating a handsome crossover that conveys uniqueness without wild design cues. Its mission – being a Mazda – is also to deliver a great driving experience. This is enhanced with Mazda’s exclusive G-Vectoring Control, which influences chassis dynamics through instantaneous changes in engine timing to reduce torque as needed for more accurate steering inputs, front tire contact, and stability.
Power is provided by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine that delivers 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft torque. Unlike most of its competition, the engine is normally-aspirated and not turbocharged, with Mazda eking additional horsepower from this SKYATIV-G powerplant in other ways. One of those ways is the use of higher 14:1 compression, making this 2.5-liter Mazda engine the first mass-production four-cylinder to feature this high of a compression ratio.
At its introduction, this engine featured the first application of cylinder deactivation in a four-cylinder in the U.S., a move that enhances fuel efficiency by shutting down the outer cylinders under low load conditions while at cruising speed. Cylinder deactivation and an array of small improvements that reduce internal friction bring about a 1 to 2 mpg increase in fuel economy in this SKYACTIV engine, depending on driving conditions.
Beyond driving enjoyment, the CX-5 exemplifies what this automaker defines as ‘Mazda Premium,’ a concept the automaker has used to describe its recent new models. This focus is devoted to delivering an extra level of details, from unexpected design elements to high levels of craftsmanship or engineering unexpected in a vehicle’s class. These elements are appreciated in the CX-5, from a center console that’s been raised to lend a cocoon feel for the driver to heated rear seats and fast-charging USB ports for rear passengers.
Driver assistance systems include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Depending on trim level, Mazda’s i-Activsense package is standard or optional. This active-safety package features adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist. There are also rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still in the future, although a CarPlay retrofit will reportedly be offered by Mazda soon for those who need this feature.