2017 Mazda CX-5 Test Drive

By Barbara & Bill Schaffer

In the five years since the Mazda CX-5 debuted we’ve reviewed it on a couple of different occasions, and each time we hated to see it go. It’s one of those vehicles that we feel would make a nice permanent addition to our garage. Recently we had a chance to drive the all-new 2017 Mazda CX-5.

For 2017 the CX-5 gets the first makeover in the SKYACTIV era, and Mazda tells us the designers and engineers “left no bolt or nut unturned.” The extensive effort made more than 250 improvements and resulted in changes like a 15-percent stiffer chassis, a revised suspension, and significant improvements to ride qualities and noise levels.

We especially like the compact size of the CX-5, its agility, and high level of features and equipment. The fact that it fits nicely in our garage, is comfortable to ride in, can carry a good size load and it is fun to drive are all icing on the cake.

A product of Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion Design, the CX-5 design has evolved and sharpened to an even more sophisticated rendition of a basic design that has maintained a fresh contemporary look. It’s still a vehicle that turns our heads when it goes by on the street or highway.

Foremost in Mazda’s success is the SKYACTIV technology that the Japanese automaker has injected into the entire Mazda lineup over the last six or seven years. Rather than upgrading engine, transmission, chassis, and body structures individually or a little at a time, Mazda engineers and designers reinvented each Mazda vehicle with the SYACTIV Technologies and the KODO design. All the elements are lightweight, efficient and to work together harmoniously.

The popularity of the CX-5 has propelled the mid-level SUV into the Mazda top sales slot, plus it is also the second fastest Mazda to reach the magical 1 million units worldwide – following right behind the Mazda 3.

Even though it is difficult to distinguish the CX-5 from previous versions, the 2017 A-pillars have been pushed back about 1.4 inches to reduce blind spots, and allow for better vision of pedestrians.

The seven-inch screen used for Mazda’s Connect™ Infotainment System has a sharper picture with improved resolution and contrast. And, it’s a little thing, but the screen is moved higher on the dash and straightened for better visibility. Speaking of better visibility, the available head-up display has been moved from a reflective pop-up screen on the dash to a relocation of the readings on the windshield.

We always thought the CX-5 had a great list of features, but the 2017 adds even more with full-LED headlights on all trim levels, more door storage, and an available power liftgate. The Mazda Radar Cruise Control now works at all speeds and the premium Bose® audio gets one more speaker.

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring with base prices ranging from $24,985 for the front-wheel drive Sport to as high as $31,635 for the all-wheel drive Grand Touring. The all-wheel drive adds only $1,300. The Grand Touring AWD we drove was priced at $33,785, which included the $1,800 Premium Package (driver memory seat, power passenger seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, active driving display and windshield wiper de-icer) along with a couple of accessories.

Standard features on the Grand Touring include some features that are on our “must have” list, including rain sensor wipers, high beam control, adaptive headlights, radar cruise control, and push-button start. Standard safety features include hill launch assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart brake support, smart city brake support, lane departure warning and lane keep assist.

Under the hood of all trim levels is a 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G and six-speed SKYACTIV automatic transmission. The CX-5 feels spunkier than the 7.6 second 0 to 60 mph time implied. However, we found acceleration and passing power to be very good, although we’d be remiss if we didn’t say, it would be even nicer with more power – perhaps a turbocharger? The EPA lists fuel economy at 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. We averaged 27.2 mpg during our week of mixed driving conditions.

The CX-5 also has the first North American adaption of a G-Vectoring Control (GVC) for an all-wheel drive vehicle. The all-wheel drive versions (i-ACTIV AWD) have a new rear differential that cuts friction while becoming stronger and more efficient.

If you are shopping for a small SUV, the choices are immense. However, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 should be right near the top of your “must drive” list. It’s outstanding from any angle.

As an added notice about future products, Mazda announced last November that during the second half of 2017 the CX-5 would be offered with a SKYACTIV- 2.2 clean diesel engine. This new engine is designed to meet the region’s strict emission standards and make the all-new CX-5 one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in its class.

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