2018 Mazda cx-5 – overview – cargurus gas jet size chart

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Before we dig into the details, it’s helpful to get the lay of the Mazda CX-5 land, so to speak. You’ve got three different versions to choose from: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring, each equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD).

My test vehicle was a Grand Touring version equipped with AWD, which bumps the price up another $1,300. It also had extra-cost Soul Red Crystal paint, a Premium Package, a cargo cover, a rear bumper guard, and illuminated door-sill trim plates. The grand total for this Grand Touring came to $34,685.

The CX-5 is also an undeniably stylish little SUV. With chiseled design and upscale detailing that set it apart from the crowd, if the CX-5 were to be mistaken for anything but a Mazda, it would be for a premium or luxury brand. Especially with its lustrous Soul Red Crystal paint, which glows in natural light.

Nevertheless, I think I prefer the first-generation CX-5 design, which ran from 2013 to 2016. Simultaneously bolder yet plainer than the original CX-5, the newest version looks out of balance to my eye. And I am not a fan of the black, machined-surface 19-inch wheels, which look too delicate on an SUV with such striking overall forms and vivid paint.

Inside, however, the CX-5 Grand Touring is a visual and tactile treat, especially when it’s decked out in high-contrast Parchment leather over a black base. The upscale cabin oozes sophistication, though for Mazda to truly convince customers that it is legitimately premium, the company will need to up its game in the hard plastic department.

Open the door, and the scent of premium leather wafts out of the SUV. For the most part, the surfaces, materials, and build quality reflect attention to detail, easily convincing a CX-5 Grand Touring’s driver and passengers that it costs more than the actual window sticker asks.

Fortunately, Mazda gears the standard 6-speed automatic to make best use of it, especially if you switch the CX-5 into its Sport driving mode. Then, it feels more alive in your hands, which is now Mazda’s reason for being. You can manually shift the transmission, too, but I dislike Mazda’s F1 racing-inspired pattern, which is counterintuitive to me. And since the CX-5 has no shift paddles, I just let the automatic do its thing.

This is a talented transmission, making the CX-5 feel zippy in town and holding gears for effortless hill climbs. A satisfying engine note accompanies acceleration, too, and it’s all the more noticeable because the CX-5’s interior is remarkably quiet.

True, I did drive the twisty sections in Sport mode. And my loop does include an elevation change from sea level to nearly 2,000 feet. But more than half of it is comprised of highway driving, so the expectation for any test car is to hit the EPA’s combined number.

Mazda’s G Vectoring Control system is standard for the CX-5. In a nutshell, this technology works imperceptibly behind the scenes to improve steering response and handling. It must work, because the CX-5 is fun to drive down a writhing mountain road.

Body roll is evident but beautifully controlled. The brakes are excellent and successfully resist fade when abused. The steering is responsive and accurate, too. But it does feel a little bit numb on center. This is not an issue on a twisty road. But when you’re droning down the highway, that hint of disconnectedness is the only thing approaching a flaw in an otherwise exceptionally balanced ride and handling equation.

The CX-5’s front seats are on the small side, but they’re deeply sculpted, supportive, and wrapped in high-quality leather. In my test vehicle, the driver’s seat offered 10-way power adjustment, while the front passenger seat had 6-way adjustment. Both front seats were also heated, as was the steering wheel. The CX-5 does not offer a ventilated seat function, which Mazda will need to provide as it moves upmarket.

I like to sit in a tall, vertical position behind the steering wheel, which means I can fit into the CX-5’s back seat without any trouble. Space is tight, but Mazda softly pads the entire front seatback and offers good foot room for my size 13s.

My test vehicle had rear air-conditioning vents, and when the center armrest is folded down, passengers will find controls for the backseat heaters and rear USB ports. Plus, the entire upper rear door panel is softly padded, a definitely upscale approach.

Cargo room is tight for a compact crossover SUV. All the sales leaders in this segment offer more room than the CX-5’s 30.9 cubic feet behind the rear seat and maximum volume of 59.6 cubes. Still, the space is usefully configured. You can easily place four full-size suitcases underneath the cargo cover, and Mazda provides small bins on either side for carrying items such as jugs of milk or bottles of wine.

What the company’s Mazda Connect technology does offer is access to Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher Internet radio; text-messaging support; HD Radio; and an E911 emergency notification service. Navigation and a premium Bose sound system are options for the Touring and standard for the Grand Touring. You need Grand Touring trim if you want satellite radio, which is free for the first four months you own the SUV.

Mazda Connect works similarly to the infotainment systems in luxury-brand vehicles. On the dashboard, a freestanding screen conveys information. It works as a touchscreen only when the CX-5 is not moving. While driving, you can operate the system using the controls on the center console, the controls on the steering wheel, or voice commands.

Once you have everything set up the way you want it, interaction with the system is fairly minimal. I got used to adjusting the stereo using the steering-wheel controls, but it would be nice to get volume and tuning knobs on the dashboard, along with some primary function buttons.

What frustrated me was the voice recognition system. For whatever reason, when I tested it to program the navigation system, it would not allow me to request a specific address. Instead, it informed me that function was unavailable (without explaining why). The alternative was to use the rotary controller and screen prompts, which was distracting while driving.

Although the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring is equipped with adaptive, auto-leveling LED headlights with automatic high-beam operation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates them Acceptable instead of Good, costing the CX-5 a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Instead, this SUV gets a plain old Top Safety Pick rating.

The federal government is not as impressed with the CX-5’s ability to protect you in a collision. This SUV gets a 4-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) because of a 4-star performance in the rear-seat, side-impact test. As such, if you’ve got kids, there are safer SUVs you can choose. However, your alternatives might not be as adept at avoiding a collision in the first place.

This year, every Mazda CX-5 has a standard blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. And, starting in 2018, Mazda now includes, as standard or optional equipment depending on the trim level, its i-ActiveSense suite of safety features. Highlights include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and more.

Add the E911 emergency notification service that is built into the CX-5’s standard Mazda Connect infotainment system, as well as the standard Smart City Brake Support low-speed automatic emergency braking system, and this is a reasonably safe SUV.