Crossover SUVs and fuel economy seem like they don't go together, but the high-miles-per-gallon 2014 Mazda CX-5 is out to change that perception. It's got plenty of other strengths, too, including a more powerful optional engine for 2014 that barely affects those big mpg numbers. Here are five reasons why this well-rounded crossover is one of our faves.

1. Frugal yet Frisky

Our test car was a Grand Touring model, which has the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood. Thanks to Mazda's fuel-saving SkyActiv technology, the 2.5-liter engine gets an EPA-rated 32 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive. That is actually the same rating as the considerably weaker 2.0-liter base engine. That's almost unheard of for a crossover SUV, especially one with a healthy 185 horsepower on tap. And with a responsive 6-speed automatic transmission handling the shifting duties, the CX-5 Grand Touring is always ready to move when you are.

2. Tasteful Styling Inside and Out

The CX-5's exterior is sleek but not audacious, tough-looking but not over-the-top. It's a restrained design that seems more expensive than it is. Inside, the understated dashboard contours and high-quality materials remind us of BMW -- no gimmicks here, just user-friendly controls and solid construction. Some affordable crossovers look as though they're trying too hard, but the CX-5 is comfortable in its own skin.

3. Excellent Ride/Handling Balance

If you've seen Mazda's commercials, which tend to involve racetrack-style driving scenarios, you may be concerned that the CX-5 is too sporty for its own good. In truth, though, Mazda has hit the sweet spot here, providing both responsive handling and a smooth, comfortable ride. It's fun to drive, absolutely, but the CX-5 is also remarkably refined. Whatever you're in the mood for, this Mazda always seems up to the task.

4. Spacious, Feature-rich Cabin

Despite its relatively compact dimensions, the CX-5 offers an elevated rear bench with enough legroom and headroom for full-sized adults. Unless you're willing to wrestle with a much larger vehicle, the CX-5's back seat is about as good as it gets. As for front passengers, they're treated to ample space all around, and our CX-5 Grand Touring test car also featured cool standard luxuries, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated sport seats with 8-way power adjustability for the driver and a 9-speaker Bose audio system.

5. Ample Cargo Capacity

For hauling, the CX-5 can swallow a healthy 34 cu ft of stuff behind the rear seats -- and if you flip down the rear seat backs, that figure jumps to 65.4 cu ft. Again, for a vehicle this size, that's mighty impressive. What's more, if you only need part of that space, the rear seat backs are split 40/20/40 and fold independently, so you can keep a seat or two open for passengers even while you're schlepping longer objects.

Conclusion

The 2014 Mazda CX-5 is one of the most likable crossovers. If you're shopping in this category, the CX-5 has got to be at the top of your list.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

  • Convertible
  • Coupe
  • Hatchback
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury
  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Van/Minivan
  • Wagon

Shopping Tools

For Sale on Autotrader.com

Please enter your ZIP to see prices and listings near you.

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content