Most of the time we forgot we were driving a crossover, which is about the biggest compliment we can think to give a car in this category.
The CX-5 has the chiseled appearance and aggressive stance required of all SUVs, but its swooping lines make it look smaller than it is, which is good, since many crossovers tend to look oversized and out of proportion. The CX-5 looks like a four-door hatchback until you get close enough to appreciate its size.
On the inside the CX-5 has the right balance of comfort and sportiness, with leather-trimmed sport seats and silver trim around the gauges. The 40/20/40 split rear seats offer an impressive amount of cargo space when folded down, but even with the rear seats in place, there's more than enough room for just about anything short of moving small pieces of furniture.
On the Road
The really impressive thing about the CX-5 is the drive quality. The 2.0-liter engine gives 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. of torque, offering enough power to make the CX-5 feel lighter and spryer than any crossover we've driven. The steering is firm and confidant and the Skyactiv-drive six-speed automatic transmission about as good as any non-manual is likely to be. Thankfully, the CX-5 is the only vehicle in its class to be offered with a manual trans, but unfortunately, the manual is only available on the Sport trim level. The CX-5 hits its mark perfectly in terms of not handling like an SUV. It can be a tad sluggish at times (going uphill or on freeway ramps), but in traffic it feels more than capable, and it can be whipped around corners confidently.
In addition to the fun-to-drive aspect, the CX-5 performs another seemingly impossible task for crossovers by actually getting respectable MPG numbers. With a claimed 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg city it ekes out slightly better numbers than its nearest competitor, the Honda CRV. And given how much more fun there is to be had behind the wheel of the CX-5, those numbers seem even more remarkable.
Features & Prices
The CX-5 only comes with the 2.0-liter engine, but, as we mentioned, it's available with both automatic and manual transmission choices, with a base MSRP of $28,295. Our tester was tricked out with the Grand Touring package, featuring satellite radio, nav system, adaptive lighting, and keyless entry. All this, plus the $795 delivery fee brought our model up to $30,415, a perfectly respectable price for such a satisfying car.
We're not huge fans of crossovers, so we were pleasantly surprised by the CX-5's combination of roominess and sportiness. Most of the time we forgot we were driving a crossover, which is about the biggest compliment we can think to give a car in this category. You'll never think you're darting around in a Miata, but you'll have a fine time driving this new Mazda, and you'll even be all set when you need to haul a bunch of stuff home from Home Depot as well.