Mazda CX-5 review: New version stays on good track
Carmaker introduces minor tweaks to an already decent ride
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Few things tick me off more than change for the sake of change. I’m tired of having to track down a grocery item because the package is different, or seeing that my running shoe has been discontinued because its design was more than a year old.
So I was pleased to discover that when Mazda updated its CX-5 for 2016, it only made some minor tweaks to a vehicle that was already a very decent driver.
The grille changes slightly on all models, while my top-line GT gets LED accent lighting and new wheels. The rear seats are more supportive, there’s an electric parking brake in place of a lever, and a new infotainment system sits in the dash, controlled by a joystick in the centre console rather than buttons alongside the screen. The GT also receives navigation as standard equipment.
Two engines are available, starting with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder in the base GX. That trim is front-wheel drive only, and offers a stick shift or automatic. The GS and GT trims use a 2.5-litre four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic. The GS can be ordered in front- or all-wheel drive, while the GT is AWD only.
The CX-5 shares both its platform and that 2.5-litre engine with the Mazda6. Like that sedan, the CX-5 accelerates briskly and handles beautifully, with far sportier performance than you’d expect from an SUV.
My GT tester was optioned with a Technology Package, which adds such items as adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, forward collision warning with braking, and a lane departure system that blares a rumble-strip sound out of the stereo speaker if you drift out of your lane. The package also adds satellite radio, though I thought that should have been bundled with the premium stereo that’s part of the GT’s equipment list.
But be warned: If you opt for this top-line trim, it can be as much as $1,000 more than similarly-equipped rivals. Be sure to check out all the trim levels and features if this Mazda is on your radar.
The checklist: 2016 Mazda CX-5
Type. Four-door, five-passenger compact SUV
Engine (hp/torque). 2.0-litre I4 (155/150); 2.5-litre I4 (184/185)
Transmissions. 6-speed manual (2.0 only); 6-speed automatic
Price. Base $22,995, as-tested $37,295 (plus destination)
• 40/20/40-split flat-folding rear seat
• Blind-spot monitoring
• Wide-angle rearview camera
• Automatic headlight levelling system
• Joystick controller for infotainment screen
• Forward collision alert with low-speed braking
• Lane departure warning system
• In addition to minor styling changes and interior improvements, new standard and optional features have been added to all of the trim lines.
• Voice recognition on the navigation system accepts an entire address, rather than saying each line at a time.
• The optional adaptive cruise control keeps a pre-set distance from the vehicle ahead, but it tends to be jerkier than systems from most other manufacturers.
The CX-5 is now the middle child in Mazda’s SUV lineup, between the smaller CX-3 and three-row CX-9. It was introduced in 2013, replacing the slightly larger CX-7 that bowed out after the 2012 model year.
Ford Escape — Base price: $23,899
Honda CR-V — Base price: $25,990
Hyundai Tucson — Base price: $24,399