Mazda has made some subtle yet useful tweaks to its CX-5 sport utility crossover. This is both in line with the way Mazda has operated for a long while, and a good idea. Mazda seems to sell a lot of their CX-5s (or at least I see a lot of them around) so it’s best not to mess too much with a good thing. In the case of the 2018 Mazda CX-5, all of these upgrades are focused around better fuel efficiency or better usability.
All of this new found fuel efficiency comes from the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine. The plant’s friction was reduced by small updates on the internals, thank you Mazda. The biggest fuel-saving measure is the segment-exclusive cylinder-deactivation technology. The SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine has the capability to shut down the two outside cylinders at cruising speeds so efficiency is maximized. Mazda says the deactivation and activation of these outside cylinders is imperceptible, and I have no reason to doubt them. Mazda goes on to say the system is designed to improve real-world efficiency and comes standard on all trim levels. They are also the only automaker to currently run this system on a four-cylinder mill in North America.
The engine puts out 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic with a manual-shift and Sport mode. Front-wheel drive is standard but if you’re in slippery conditions a lot, Mazda’s i-ACTIV all-wheel drive is available on every trim level.
The ’18 CX-5 now comes with a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Also Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert comes standard across all models. Before, you had to opt for the mid-range and higher trim levels to get that stuff.
The CX-5 Sport, the entry-level model, comes with cloth upholstery, standard LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and an electronic parking brake. The Mazda Connect infotainment system is paired with a rather nice seven-inch screen with Bluetooth capability and phone pairing as standard. There is a newly available Sport i-ACTIVSENSE Package that adds High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and automatic on/off headlights. You know, all that fat and lazy stuff we are slowly becoming used to.
The next trim level up is the CX-5 Touring. Go with that package and you add standard 19-inch allow wheels, and the full i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety nannies, er, features. The Mazda CX-5 Touring enhances the seats to leatherette-upholstered trim and adds the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry system. Additional CX-5 Touring features include heated front seats with the driver’s chair being six-way power adjustable (fancy!). The heater/AC is a dual-zone automatic climate control set up with rear air vents and two rear USB ports for charging smartphones or tablets (i.e. keeping the kiddos happy on long journeys).
If the CX-5 Touring is just a little slight for your needs, Mazda has you covered with the available Touring Preferred Package. If you go the Preferred route you get an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in Homelink, and a Bose 10-speaker audio system with Centerpoint and AudioPilot. The Touring Preferred Package also comes with navigation, a power moonroof, and a power liftgate.
At the top, we find the CX-5 Grand Touring, the supremo-supremo. The Grand Touring package builds on the Touring Preferred setup. Grand Touring gets you a new two-position memory driver’s seat and six-way power adjustable passenger chair. The CX-5 Grand Touring comes with leather-trimmed seats, LED fog lights and taillights, Adaptive Front-lighting, and SiriusXM satellite radio (with a 4-month subscription thrown in). If you want everything on your Mazda CX-5 sundae, then tick the box for the Grand Touring Premium Package. This equips the car, er crossover with a windshield-projected Active Driving Display unit with Traffic Sign Recognition, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, and windshield wiper de-icer.
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 should be in dealerships nationwide by now with prices ranging from $24,150 for the front-wheel drive CX-5 Sport, up to around $33,000 for the full-zoot CX-5 Grand Touring Premium Package.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.