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- Best-looking compact crossover, by our eyes
- Improved interior
- Excellent driveability
- Fold-flat rear seats
- Not dramatically different than outgoing model
- Turbodiesel arriving later this year
- Finicky infotainment system
- Small-ish cargo area
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 takes a lot of small steps forward, but are any of them big enough changes to sway buyers?
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is new this year, and improves upon last year's model with a better interior and exterior look, quieter ride, a new-ish standard engine, and a coming turbodiesel that could be among the leaders for small crossovers in highway mileage. It's offered in Sport, Touring, Grand Select, and Grand Touring trims with varying levels of creature comforts.
It earns a 7.0 overall on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
Mazda's ethos of performance and style is in full view here, again. The CX-5 looks better than many of its boxy competitors without overworked lines; and it's a more enjoyable crossover to drive. While we had our gripes with the outgoing model, style and driveability weren't on that list.
The new CX-5 isn't a huge departure from the outgoing model. The shape is instantly recognizable, and its trapezoidal grille is still front and center. Instead, subtle changes to the sheet metal bends along the sides, chrome accents below the window and the grille, and a floating badge on a slightly canted grille are the best indications that you're driving Mazda's latest and greatest.
Inside, the CX-5 borrows heavily from the CX-9 and that's a good thing. It's an upscale interior without commanding luxury money, and little things like the steering wheel have been improved.
Under the hood, Mazda's argument for the new car is more nuanced. A reworked 2.5-liter inline-4 is standard on all models, a turbodiesel will appear in the fall (something we've heard that before). The new engine makes 187 horsepower, a modest 3 hp improvement over the last model, and is mated to a 6-speed automatic only—no more manual.
In general, performance is sharp and the steering is precise. It's the most fun we've had in a compact crossover—not a high bar to begin with, but we appreciate the effort.
Comfort, safety and features
The CX-5 was among the smallest in its class, and the new version doesn't change that much. Five adults will fit within the CX-5, thanks to a little more shoulder room in a slightly wider track. Scalloped seats and enough leg room in the back make it possible for 6-footers to sit behind 6-footers, although cargo capacity is behind others with only 31 cubes fitting in when all the seats are up.
Mazda's attention to detail would make any accountant proud. The automaker's seek-and-destroy mission for nasty sounds resulted in a cabin that's quiet and calm, although not quite a sensory-deprivation chamber like a Lexus or Toyota.
Safety scores for the CX-5 could be concerning. So far, federal testers have given the CX-5 a four-star overall rating, which is relatively uncommon for the class and a new car. The IIHS hasn't yet weighed in, so stay tuned.
All versions of the CX-5 are outfitted with good standard equipment, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment that doesn't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto yet, but we expect that to change soon.
Grand Touring models can be decked with leather seating, power liftgate, an active safety suite, and heated seats for front and rear passengers. Pricing starts in line with the other guys, at $24,985 for front-drive Sport models and can run up to just over $34,000 for a fully loaded Grand Touring model with all-wheel drive.
The Grand Select is a late-introduction model that's equipped like a Grand Touring, only with fewer active safety features and a $500 lower price tag. Yeah, we don't get it either.