Standing out in the crowded compact crossover field can be tough, but the athletic Mazda CX-5 has always been different enough to stay on buyers' radar. To ensure it remains competitive with the best of the breed, Mazda has treated the CX-5 to a midlife makeover that's especially apparent inside.
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2016 Mazda CX-5 Overview
What's New for 2016
The interior receives a thorough freshening, highlighted by a new center console and electronic parking brake. The CX-5 also carries a revised grille and updated suspension system.
Choosing Your Mazda CX-5
The CX-5's redesigned cabin achieves an upscale feel this year, something that was lacking in previous editions. Although dimensions have not changed, the elimination of a traditional parking brake and the new storage-rich console give an airy vibe to the interior. The CX-5 is known more for its sprightly handling than its utility, but you do get 65 cubic feet of cargo space, a competitive amount for this class.
- The front-drive CX-5 starts out with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine good for 155 horsepower, paired with your choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Either way, expect to get about 29 mpg in combined driving.
- The available 2.5-liter four-cylinder provides a boost to 184 horsepower and comes only with the automatic.
The larger engine is standard on the upper trim levels and any model with the $1,250 option of all-wheel drive. It makes a dramatic difference in the CX-5's performance and trails the 2-liter in efficiency by just 1 mpg, even in all-wheel drive spec.
As before, the CX-5 is offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims:
Any CX-5 is a good deal -- even a fully loaded CX-5 Grand Touring with all-wheel drive checks in at less than $30,000.
2016 Mazda CX-5 Review
Americans are flocking to compact crossovers for a number of valid reasons, but fun isn't usually one of them. That makes the sprightly Mazda CX-5 something of a class clown, far more entertaining than its peers if not always as practical.
Pricing and Equipment
Like most of the Mazda lineup, the CX-5 comes in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims:
- Priced at $21,795, the entry-level Sport comes with a 2-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission. You can swap out this setup for a more powerful 2.5-liter and six-speed automatic for $1,400. The available Rear Camera package, a steal at $400, adds the camera plus a vastly upgraded infotainment system. You can also add rear parking sensors ($475), remote start ($500) and foglamps ($350).
- The $26,465 Touring comes standard with the Sport's options, plus an upgraded interior and blind spot monitoring. The Moonroof and Bose Audio package adds a sunroof and a nine-speaker Bose sound system for $1,130. There's also a Technology package ($1,625) featuring navigation, LED lighting and automatic emergency braking.
- For $28,220, the Grand Touring adds heated leather seats, automatic dual-zone climate control and 19-inch wheels. The Technology package remains optional. Available only on this trim is the i-Activsense package, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beams.
All-wheel drive can be added to any trim level except the Sport when equipped with the base 2-liter engine. The ability to go in the snow will set you back just $1,250, as opposed to $1,500-$2,000 on competing crossovers.
The 2-liter four-cylinder makes 155 horsepower and comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. Optional on the Sport and standard everywhere else is a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic.
Performance highlights include:
- Steering/handling: Responsiveness has always been the CX-5's strong suit, all the more so this year thanks to some suspension updates. It's remarkably nimble in everyday driving and athletic enough to take down serpentine roads just for the fun of it. When was the last time you heard that said about a crossover in this price class?
- Transmission: The six-speed automatic reacts without hesitation, making the most of available power and doing what it can to enhance efficiency.
- Cheap vacations: The CX-5 achieves 35 mpg on the highway when equipped with the 2-liter engine and 33 mpg with the 2.5-liter, excellent ratings for this class. Even with all-wheel drive, you're still hovering at the 30 mpg mark.
- The 2-liter engine feels overtaxed at times, especially with passengers and cargo aboard.
- Although the 2.5-liter cures any sluggishness, we still wish for more than its 184 horsepower in a crossover of this performance potential.
- This year's subtle but effective interior freshening erases the "sensible" look that some buyers might have found too serious.
- A new electric parking brake and redesigned console create a more open environment.
- Regardless of trim level, the interior is a sea of all-black surfaces. The neutral upholstery offered with select exterior colors is as exciting as it gets.
- Space for people and things is a major virtue in this class, and CX-5 has only an average amount of it.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Although the CX-5 isn't much different than last year, the tweaks to the interior and suspension—not to mention a prettier grille—are enough to keep it firmly in the top tier of this highly competitive class.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
A fully loaded Grand Touring meets up with many small luxury crossovers in price—though not in horsepower or interior color choices.
The Bottom Line
Some folks will tell you that, if you prize driving enjoyment, you shouldn't be shopping in this class. We say you should be shopping for a Mazda CX-5.
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