We all know the CUVs are here to stay. When thinking of the class, a lot of buyers gravitate to the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV-4. But Mazda also wants to make a case for itself with a well-engineered CUV that should remain reliable but with a dose of sportiness injected into it.
Enter the CX-5 Signature edition. The CX-5 starts at $26K and goes all the way to $37K all-in … a relatively reasonable price for the features in the Signature edition. The CX-5 is less boxy than its competitors (even though boxy seems to be “in”), but the look is clean, featuring a short-overhang hood. Even though shoppers sometimes overlook the CX-5 and go with its bigger Japanese rivals, it is still the best-selling vehicle in Mazda’s lineup. CUVs are here to stay.
Getting right into the infotainment, Mazda is flexing its new 10.25-inch large center display with the latest-generation Mazda Connect system. The new infotainment interface has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. It also adds a three-year trial of Mazda Connected Services capability, providing the ability to monitor and control the state of the CX-5 remotely by logging into the MyMazda app and in-car WiFi hotspot with three-months or 2GB trial, whichever comes first.
My only complaint with the infotainment unit is that it must be operated by the multimedia controller, or Command Controller in Mazdaspeak. On previous Mazdas, the infotainment system allowed you to use the Command Controller or just use the screen as a touchscreen. That choice was the best for ease-of-use. Some vehicle functions are better accessed through a touchscreen. But we were happy to see separate buttons for the heated seats and heated steering wheel – love that!
Mazda has gone with a normally aspirated but higher-compression engine for the CX-5. At the dealerships, you’ll see it marketed as Skyactiv-G (the “G” stands for gasoline). The 2.5-liter mill delivers 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. It is plenty peppy to get the job done.
One of the benefits of the Skyactiv technology is it can make its rated power on either regular (87 octane) or premium (93 octane) fuel. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with an intuitive shifter. Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive with off-road traction assist is available on all trim levels.
In the top tier CX-5 Signature, Mazda gives the driver a suite of safety technology. New i-Activsense safety features Smart City Brake Support Reverse and Driver Attention Alert join the 360-degree View Monitor with front and rear parking sensors now updated with high-definition digital clarity. The image displayed on the screen is nearly as clear as the frameless rearview mirror.
The CX-5 also features Traffic Sign Recognition and can alert you to the posted speed limit. For those in traffic, the Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop and go function is great. Also onboard are a host of ADAS features such as Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Older Mazdas on the road can benefit from these cutting-edge safety technologies. Your local specialty mobile enhancement retailer can help retrofit some of these technologies on your older vehicle.
The audio system is a 10-speaker Bose setup. For most folks, the system will be adequate. But a decent pair of front coaxials or separates would really help brighten the sound. Some careful tweaking by a specialist would pay off immensely. I also prefer a volume knob on the dashboard versus one on the center console. For those looking for the ultimate audio experience, an aftermarket volume knob via a digital signal processor could be introduced into the dashboard, along with a little help with imaging and soundstaging.
The Mazda CX-5, priced reasonably for the segment, is another strong choice in the CUV marketplace. It offers a touch more sportiness and a more rounded look compared to the competition. It may not be a Corvette, but why not have a touch of sportiness on your commute or trip to the supermarket!