Mazda’s ad slogan “Driving Matters” is meant to define what their cars are about, and it fits the newly-redesigned CX-5 crossover. The CX-5 is a driver-focused vehicle meant to deliver a different experience than your average small SUV. We think it offers a more satisfying experience than its chief rivals, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
And if looks have anything to do with it, we think it wins in exterior styling too.
What’s New For 2017
The Mazda CX-5 crossover has been completely redesigned for 2017, with a quieter, better looking cabin, and a more stylish exterior. Though it hasn’t grown in size, it offers a smoother, quieter ride. If you want a manual gearbox, you will be disappointed, as that was dropped in favor of a six-speed automatic. Mazda says the 2.5-liter engine has been tweaked and retuned for 2017.
Features & Options
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD ($30,695) comes with acoustic front windows, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a better six-speaker sound system, rear USB ports, and blind-spot monitors. It also features keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. The vehicle also receives additional driver assistance features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams.
Grand Touring models add leather and 19-inch wheels to the above. The Premium Package ($1,830) adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a heads-up display, power front passenger seat, and windshield wiper de-icer. Total MSRP including destination: $34,380.
This CX-5 Grand Touring interior takes a step forward and the changes are evident with the leather seating and stitching on the dash, console, and door panels. The quality of materials is excellent for this price point. The cabin is driver-focused with a new steering wheel, while the shift lever is moved back two inches, making for a more natural position for the driver’s hand.
The 7-inch touchscreen resolution is sharper in 2017. It sits high atop the stylish dash, but it’s a bit too far away for our liking. There’s also an infotainment controller in the center console with a radio volume control knob that’s easy to find without taking your eyes off the road. The seats are comfortable and offer plenty of adjustments and support for long-distance driving. The steering wheel also offers a nice range of tilt-and-telescoping positions.
This week we took a couple of six-foot gentlemen to lunch, and they commented on how there seems to be more shoulder room in the rear, likely due to the CX-5’s slightly wider track. The rear doors open wide, so they had no trouble entering and exiting the crossover. And thanks to scalloping in the back of the front seats, there was plenty of legroom for our riders.
If you need to carry cargo, the 40/20/40-split folding backseat reclines, another new feature for 2017. Behind the rear seat, there’s 31 cubic feet of cargo storage, and 60 with the rear folded flat. It’s a bit less than competitors, including the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The revised 2.5-liter engine is tweaked a bit and produces 187 horsepower and 185lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. Our tester came with Mazda’s all-wheel drive system for all-weather capability. EPA fuel mileage estimates are 23/29 city/highway and 26 combined with all-wheel drive.
We think the CX-5 is higher on the fun-to-drive meter than any other crossover out there. We drove this week in the mountains west of Denver where this journalist lives, and the CX-5 delivered a most satisfying experience. We tossed the CX-5 around the tight curves and it responded like a sports sedan.
The steering is precise, and the suspension is tuned for sporty driving over comfort. Be aware, the CX-5 is not going to win any races. The crossover has enough power for most driving situations, but was fairly tame when we pushed it hard up I-70. The naturally aspirated engine could use a turbo for those traveling up into the high country or hauling extra cargo over a high mountain pass. For normal commuting, you won’t have an issue.
One big difference we noticed for 2017 is the new-found quiet in the cabin when we got underway. It’s not as quiet as a Lexus, but it’s much improved when we pushed the pedal, especially at highway speeds. Overall, it’s the most fun we’ve ever had in a compact crossover, having tested the competition. If you live where there’s lots of twisty roads, this is the vehicle for you.
The redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD nails it in driving dynamics, a comfortable, driver-focused interior, and exterior styling. The cabin is quieter than the outgoing model, which was the biggest complaint with the CX-5. If you like to drive, this crossover delivers a different, more pleasurable experience than your average small SUV.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy