By Tom Crosby

It’s been around for nearly three years with only minor changes because Mazda believes it has a competitive winner with the compact Mazda CX-5 sport utility vehicle (SUV), which can also be called a crossover vehicle.

With top safety ratings and numerous awards, it has become a sales champion in Mazda’s automotive stable. It was the first of the company’s vehicles to use SKYACTIV® technology to create a lighter, stronger body with 61% high-tensile steel but a lighter chassis using independent front-strut and multi-link rear suspensions. Both improve driver confidence and handling, a nice feature for any SUV.

The CX-5 also inaugurated the KODO “Soul of Motion” design language used on Mazdas today that gives it a sleek roadside profile with muscular fender arches, contoured angles flowing smoothly into a strong yet sleek look. Top safety ratings from government and insurance industry crash tests make it attractive to soccer moms and an average EPA rating of 26 miles per gallon feels affordable when gas prices are above $3.00 a gallon.

And, after three years on the road Consumer Reports rates the Mazda CX-5 reliability above average. For 2015 keyless entry was added. We test-drove the CX-5 Grand Touring, top-of-the-line above the base Sport and Touring CX-5 trims. With its smoothly shifting 6-speed automatic transmission and steering wheel manual paddle shifters, all-wheel-drive for mild off-roading, bigger engine, 19-inch alloy wheels, leather trimmed bolstered front seats, and 9 speaker BOSE audio system, the extra $8,000 in price felt justified.

Our tester also added a tech package for $1,425 that included navigation using TomTom routing and speech recognition, which unfortunately didn’t correctly interpret voice commands. Also TomTom requires an acknowledgement of the potential dangers of using it (distraction, accuracy, etc.) every time the CX-5 is started.

The ride was average, possibly limited somewhat to the design of the suspension system. Wind and engine noise under acceleration permeated the cabin, requiring higher radio volume.

The inside is spacious and well designed, with readable and reachable gauges and controls, plenty of adjustable spaces with easily folded flat second row seats and in the event of a flat, a spare donut tire in the trunk.

Front seat passengers enjoy contoured side-bolstered seats and a fold-down center armrest comforts second row riders. Access and egress are easy and Bluetooth, blind spot alert (flash and beep) and rear camera are all standard. Sirius satellite radio came at no charge.

Towing is rated at 2,000 pounds.

LIKES: Handling, looks, mileage, versatile, interior
DISLIKES: Noisy, TomTom
BOTTOM LINE: Top Mazda innovations, decent price and reliable


  • Base price $30,050
  • Curb weight 3,560 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 106.3 inches
  • Length 179.3 inches
  • Width 72.4 inches
  • Engine specs 2.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, SKYACTIV-G
  • Horsepower 184 hp at 5,700 rpm
  • Torque 185 ft-lbs at 3,250 rpm
  • Transmission 6 speed automatic transmission
  • EPA 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway
  • Range 15.3-gallon tank, regular unleaded
  • Performance 0-60 in less than 7.8 seconds