A small SUV crossover that’s high on the fun-to-drive meter? No, this isn’t a BMW X1 but the newly designed Mazda CX-5 SUV. It offers plenty of family-friendly features and also keeps driver-engagement high for enthusiasts.
Yes, you really can have both.
This week we test drove the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring front-wheel drive variant. It offers a bit more fun on the road than the all-wheel-drive version. If you don’t live a cold climate, it’s a good choice for families looking for a little more sport in their commute.
The Mazda CX-5 gets updated styling outside and a redesigned interior for 2016. It comes with the latest safety features and the ride gets upgraded with a revised suspension. The cabin is quieter with more sound-deadening measures for greater ride comfort.
Features & Options
The Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD ($28,220) comes with more luxury and gets leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a Bose Surround Sound with nine speakers. It also features as standard, keyless ignition and entry, blind spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems, a six-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Also included are 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers, heated mirrors, satellite radio, and heated front seats.
This Grand Touring came with the optional Tech package ($1,505) featuring a navigation system, the Smart City Brake Support System, adaptive LED headlights, LED running lights, LED fog lights, LED taillights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Total MSRP: $31,060
The cabin in the Grand Touring is more luxurious than many small SUVs. Interior materials are high quality, with extensive use of soft-touch vinyl and very little hard plastic. The leather seats are comfortable, and the front buckets are sporty and supportive, matching the way the CX-5 handles on the road. The handbrake has been replaced by a smaller electronic brake switch, making more space for the center console.
The big steering wheel felt good in our hands and it also tilts / telescopes, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Visibility is especially good in this small crossover, making it easy to navigate the lanes in heavy traffic.
Our rear passengers this week commented on the ease of getting in and out of the back. There’s room for two adults to ride comfortably. With the seatbacks up, there’s ample room (34 cubic feet) for hauling cargo in the back. With the seats folded nearly flat, it opens up to 65 cubic feet.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The CX-5 Grand Touring gets the more powerful Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter engine, making this crossover an ample performer. It comes with 184 horsepower and 185 lb. ft of torque. It gets an EPA estimated 26/33 mpg city/highway and 29 combined with the automatic transmission and FWD.
We normally don’t like front-drive crossovers here in Colorado due to the better traction with all-wheel drive. It is available on the CX-5 and it’s recommend for cold climates for traction but with FWD, the CX-5 is a sporty-handling, small SUV that is high on the fun-to-drive meter. If you live in the southern states, it’s a great choice for driving enthusiasts and you can save money both up front and at the pump.
The 2.5-liter engine offered stronger performance in the mountains west of Denver at altitude. We were impressed with the acceleration up the steep hills and there’s plenty of power for passing slower traffic. The six-speed automatic provided smooth and quick shifts up and down when we needed it. A semi-manual feature is available for driving enthusiasts who want to shift manually.
The CX-5 feels more stable at high speeds than many small SUVs. The suspension is tuned for more sport than comfort, although it handled the dirt roads without jarring us out of the seat. Sometimes the CX-5 reminded us of a European model with a firm but compliant ride.
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD offers plenty of luxury and sporty handling for active families. It’s easy to live with and offers versatility for hauling cargo and kids. If you want a sportier driving experience it’s a good choice because the superior handling agility make it more engaging for the driver.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
*Video provided by Signature Mazda, 13800 Smallwood Pl, Richmond, BC V6V 2C2, Canada.