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2017 Mazda CX-5: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2017

Anyone shopping the compact SUV market of late can tell you there are plenty of choices out there. Today's compact crossovers are almost mini-luxury SUVs, offering much of the safety, luxury and styling of their more expensive brethren at a bargain price. However, if you're also looking for a compact SUV that offers all these features plus great driving dynamics, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is probably your best bet. Completely remade this year, the CX-5 has a more premium feel than the model it replaces. With a lower stance and a more refined suspension, the CX-5 delivers a better ride and better handling without sacrificing the all the things people loved about the original.

When placed up against competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the CX-5 looks pretty good. However, it lacks the turbocharged power found on the Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and Kia Sportage. The CX-5 is also missing some high-tech audio features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though Mazda says it might be able to add both via a simple software upgrade. We'll keep an eye on that one. The CX-5 may have the last laugh, however, when later in the model year Mazda plans to offer a diesel engine option, a unique attribute in this class that will improve both performance and fuel economy.

What's New for 2017?

The CX-5 has been completely remade for 2017. Although its dimensions remain roughly the same, the CX-5 now rides a bit lower to the ground (7.6 inches vs. 8.5), has a more modern interior and features more active safety features. The 2017 CX-5 also addresses a few complaints from the previous generation, namely interior noise levels and a somewhat harsh ride on up-level trims. Other available features of note include Mazda's G-Vectoring Control, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a power lift gate.

What We Like

Beautiful interior; smooth ride; quiet cabin; excellent handling; sophisticated AWD setup; good fuel economy; future diesel engine offering; reasonably priced

What We Don't

Dash-mounted touchscreen only operates when the car is stopped; no high-output turbo or V6 engine option; Grand Touring's 19-inch wheels create a firm ride; no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto; heated side mirrors only offered on most expensive trim

How Much?

$24,985-$36,000

Fuel Economy

At launch, the CX-5 will be offered with one engine and transmission combination. Mazda's 2.5-liter SKYACTIV direct-injection gasoline inline 4-cylinder unit mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower is a respectable 187, with 185 lb-ft of torque. For front-drive models, the EPA gives the CX-5 a rating of 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Models equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) earn a slightly lower 23 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Later in the model year, Mazda is expected to introduce a diesel engine option. No specs or EPA info has been given, however.

Standard Features & Options

Mazda's CX-5 for 2017 is offered in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. All-wheel drive is an option for all three trims.

The CX-5 Sport ($24,985 FWD; $26,285 AWD) includes power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry with push-button start, 17-in alloy wheels, cloth seating, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering column, manual air conditioning, variable wipers, LED headlights, Smart City Brake Support, a 6-way manual driver's seat, an electronic parking brake, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, a 7-in color touchscreen with 4-speaker audio, Mazda Connect with voice activation, a rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and two front USB ports. In case you were wondering, there's no CD player this year, not even as an add-on option.

The CX-5 Touring ($26,855 FWD; $28,155 AWD) adds a 6-way power driver's seat, leatherette seating with suede inserts, heated front seats, rear privacy glass, auto-leveling headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an additional two speakers for the audio, Mazda Advanced Key proximity keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear-seat vents, a rear-seat center armrest, reclining rear seats, rear-seat USB ports, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

Optional on the Touring is the Preferred Equipment Package, which includes a 10-speaker Bose CenterPoint 2 audio system, a power moonroof, a power lift gate, navigation, auto on/off headlights and an auto-dimming mirror with Homelink. The i-ACTIVSENSE Package brings auto high-beam control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and Smart Brake Support emergency braking.

The CX-5 Grand Touring ($30,335 FWD; $31,635 AWD) adds both of the Touring's optional packages plus leather seating surfaces, 19-in alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, rain-sensing wipers, heated exterior mirrors, adaptive headlights and LED fog lights and taillights.

The optional Grand Touring Premium Package adds a head-up display with traffic-sign recognition, driver's-seat memory, a 6-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a windshield-wiper de-icer.

Safety

The 2017 CX-5 comes with the standard complement of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and six airbags, including front-seat side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Standard Smart City Brake Support can sense an impending collision (at speeds of up to 19 mph) and prepare the brakes for faster activation. The system emits an audible alert and will even apply the brakes if the driver fails to take action. A number of active safety features are offered, including autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.

At the time of this review, neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 2017 Mazda CX-5.

Behind the Wheel

We always enter a Mazda vehicle expecting a superior driving experience, and CX-5 does not disappoint. The moderate engine output feels balanced with the crossover's intended use. It's not a rocket ship off the line, but the CX-5 is sprightly and eager to romp. The traditional 6-speed transmission keeps the engine in the powerband without droning (as we sometimes complain about with continuously variable automatic transmissions), and the CX-5 cruises comfortably at freeway speeds.

The CX-5 has always been one of the best-handling crossovers in its class, and the new model offers subtle improvement. The front suspension is handled by independent MacPherson struts, while the rear suspension is an independent multilink setup. Stabilizer bars are fitted to both the front and rear assemblies. All-wheel-drive vehicles benefit from Mazda's G-Vectoring Control, a sophisticated system that sends power to the outside rear wheel during cornering, which has the effect of sharpening response. The well-tuned electric power steering has good feel, pleasantly heavy at speed and light in parking lots. Mazda claims chassis rigidity has been improved by 15 percent, which translates to a quieter ride and less body roll. The lower stance and taut suspension show their stuff when the road twists, and it's a pleasure to drive around town. Great outward visibility in all directions and a higher-than-sedan driving position validate the crossover choice.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Kia Sportage -- The Sportage offers equally handsome styling, features and safety equipment, plus the options of a turbocharged engine, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-5, however, offers a bit more room and superior ride and handling.

2017 Honda CR-V --The CR-V has more interior room, a larger cargo hold and gets better gas mileage. But the CX-5 can tow more weight (2,000 lbs. vs 1,500), has a more upscale interior and more luxury options.

2017 Ford Escape --The Escape is slightly smaller inside but offers better audio and infotainment features, more features on its lower trim models and a choice of three engines, including two turbocharged units.

Used Subaru Outback -- A 2015-2016 Subaru Outback will give you more room, superior off-road ability, better ground clearance and a number of driver assists, including the excellent EyeSight system. The Outback also gets slightly better fuel economy.

Autotrader's Advice

We think the best value is the Touring trim with the optional Preferred Equipment and i-ACTIVSENSE packages. This version gives you everything you'll need for both comfort and safety. We also feel the CX-5's ride is much better with the 17-in wheels. As the CX-5's low ground clearance and prominent front chin spoiler preclude it from tackling most off-road adventures, we'd suggest opting for AWD only if you live in a place where snow is a regular occurrence.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mazda CX-5: New Car Review - Autotrader