The Mazda CX-5 has found popularity on a global scale. For 2016, the CX-5 continues with its appealing combo of nimbleness and style.
The CX-5 is a hit. In April of this year, it hit the million mark in production since its November 2011 introduction.
In the US, the CX-5 is more of a niche entry; its volume runs about 30% of the top-selling Honda CR-V‘s and about 65% of the Subaru Forester‘s. It runs about even with the Hyundai Tucson and sells about double of the Kia Sportage. So, one advantage to the CX-5 is you won’t see yourself coming and going as you would with the class leaders.
To grab more of the crossover market, Mazda has introduced the CX-5’s little brother, the subcompact CX-3. Comparing the top Grand Touring trims, as the tested CX-5 was equipped, the CX-3 costs $3,200 less than the CX-5’s $29,470 base price.
In terms of size, the CX-3 is just over 10 inches shorter than the CX-5’s still-compact 178.7-inch length. Both are easily parkable, and the CX-3 would be the one to choose if you frequently fight for spaces on the street.
The CX-5 is offered in three trim levels – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The front-wheel drive Sport starts at $21,795, and it’s the only trim available with a manual transmission.
Add $3,420 to that for the Touring, and the four-cylinder engine is upgraded from a 2.0-liter to a 2.4. You also get the Mazda Connect infotainment system with Pandora and SMS text compatibility, a power driver’s seat and a general sprucing-up of the interior.
Step up to the just-under $30K Grand Touring, and you get the works: moonroof, 19-inch wheels, leather, eight-way power driver’s seat, Bose surround sound, automatic headlights, and more.
The tested CX-5 had the $1,505 Grand Touring Tech Package, which includes LED lights, Smart City Brake Support and navigation, among other items.
Adding the $1,500 GT i-Activesense Package takes safety a step further with Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning and High Beam control.
Adding all-wheel drive to either the Touring or Grand Touring costs $1,250 and increases weight by about 150 pounds. It’s a $2,650 option on the Sport, because it also necessitates the automatic transmission.
So we see that the CX-5 is relatively affordable; its as-tested price of just under $33K includes the technology and safety features buyers would want. It does without items like the power tailgate and panoramic roof found on some competitors, but the essentials are there.
Aside from being well-equipped, the CX-5 is also fun to drive. Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder lacks a turbo and is a little noisy when pressed, but it has a quick throttle response, and its 184 horses kept the CX-5 feeling agile. The six-speed automatic is happy to play along, with quick downshifts.
The feeling of agility carries over to the handling. Good steering feel, an even-keeled body and strong brakes make the CX-5 very tossable, and the tires surrounding the 19-inch wheels are grippy. Aside from the aforementioned engine noise, there’s little in the CX-5 to prevent you from probing further into its abilities.
Inside, the CX-5 scores with supportive seats.
Seat cushions are amply bolstered, and the bottom cushion tips up steeply for tall-driver thigh support.
The rear seat is big-car accommodating, with nearly 40 inches of rear legroom.
The instrument panel is shaped with typical Mazda simplicity, eschewing the shiny sweeps of some others in this segment.
The center screen is tucked into a neat padded surround…
…and it’s controlled by Mazda‘s winning remote controller, complete with a separate knob for audio volume.
It’s the opposite of Honda‘s approach to restrict the controls to the touch screen; the Mazda’s knobs fall readily to hand and allow for minimum distraction as you can easily navigate the menus by feel.
The standard power parking brake release is another nice touch.
Climate controls are easy to figure…
…and there’s a big bin up front for your phone. Nice that the CX-5 includes two USB connections, rather than just one.
As is typical for compact crossovers, there’s lots of luggage room – 34.1 cubic feet, which is about double that of a mid-sized sedan.
That number grows to 65.4 cubic feet with all the seats down. Although that’s quite roomy, it’s still about five cubic feet less than the Honda CR-V. The back seats fold just about flat.
There’s a bit more stowage below the floor for small items.
Overall, the 2016 CX-5 acquits itself well. It was the first to feature Mazda’s Skyactiv Technology, a design philosophy that emphasizes light weight for optimal performance and efficiency…
…and it succeeds in having that extra zing we find so endearing about Mazdas, both in styling and handling feel. Its broad appeal is easy to figure, as is its niche positioning in the compact crossover market. There’s a lot here that most will like, and the way it looks and moves is something some will truly appreciate.
Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of the 2016 CX-5?
2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Front-Wheel Drive
Base Price: $28,200
Price As Tested: $32,890
Grand Touring Tech Package: $1,505
Adaptive Front Lighting
LED Daytime Running Lights
LED Combination Tail Lights
Smart City Brake Support
Auto-Dim Mirror With Homelink
GT i-Activesense Package: $1,500
Mazda Radar Cruise Control
Smart Brake Support
Lane Departure Warning
High Beam Control
Soul Red Paint: $300
Retractable Cargo Cover: $200
Door Sill Trim Plates: $125
Rear Bumper Guard: $100
Cargo Mat: $60
Destination Charge: $880
– Nimble performance
– Supportive front seats
– Edgy styling
– Engine noise
– Lots of black interior plastic
– Some luxo features not available