2016 Mazda CX5 – Test Drive, Spec, Ratings

2016 Mazda CX5 (10)A Crossover Done Right

Over the past few years, the oversea Japan automaker, Mazda has made a strong foot print in offering affordable cars packed with quality, performance and features.  This statement especially rings true when speaking of the Mazda CX5.  Since its initial debut in 2012 (as a 2013 model), the Mazda CX5 has been positively received by both critics and consumers.

The 2016 Mazda CX5 model remains relatively unchanged from last year; but regardless of the fact, the near perfect harmony of price, quality and performance still makes this notable cross-over a worthy note.

What ultimately makes the Mazda CX5 so attractive is its stellar EPA fuel economy thanks to its SKYACTIV engine, form and functionality, excellent safety ratings and a fun and dynamic driving experience.  But not to say there aren’t any crossovers alike in the crowded market – the Honda CRV, Hyundai Santa Fe, and even the refreshed Toyota RAV4 are only a few to name in the competition pool.

Styling and Design

Inherit to the Mazda genetics is the Kodo “Soul of Motion” design philosophy, delivering an expression of serenity and graceful vehicle dynamics.  In terms of its styling, there’s a lot to like about it.  From the outside, styling is kept simple, but remain visually stunning.  It’s the combination of chrome accent, a low hangover silhouette, and smooth contours from front to back that aspires a coexistence of both composure and agility.  The chrome trimming wrapping around the curvaceous front grille also illuminates under darker lighting conditions, which adds a prominent and unique look to the CX5.

Inside appointments are well defined as well.  The overall color scheme is a monotone black accompanied with soft touch material layered throughout.  Seating material are available depending on trim.  Sport and Touring models are available in two flavors of cloth fabric material while the upper Grand Touring trim is available in black or white sand perforated leather.  While the electronic instrument is well laid out, the climate controls were upright and cramped on the center console, making accessibility slightly cumbersome, but still manageable.

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Tech Features

Speaking of electronics, the Bluetooth audio package can be added as a purchase option with the Sport package.  This includes hands free phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8″ infotainment touch screen, HD radio, and automated SMS delivery notifications.

It works, but it’s not the greatest.  UI responsiveness was a bit slow, but made more efficient via the HMI command switch –  a rotary notched knob and push button.  Some of the UI can be tweaked a bit to help navigate and change menus and radio stations a bit easier, but overall, it works.

Voice navigation equipped on our Grand Touring test model deserves a positive compliment as it was able to interpret my destination addresses over voice fairly accurately; though, I wished it had been a bit more intelligent to offer suggestions if I spoken a street number with the wrong city.

Power train and Driving Impression

Under the hood of our Grand Tour test model comes equipped with a 2.5 L SKYACTIV-G engine producing 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque coupled to a six speed automatic transmission.  These are not numbers worth bragging about at your local car meet, but it gets the job done.   Also available on lower trim models is the smaller 2.0 L SKYACTIV engine producing 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque.  Judging from the capability of its larger engine, it’s fairly safe to bet that the smaller 2.0 L engine would be in the level of under-powered, especially with a full 5 passenger capacity load.

2016 Mazda CX5 (6)

Marketing material cultivates the Mazda CX5 driving experience to be exciting.  And whether you agree or disagree on that depends on your definition of “excitement”.  It doesn’t take long to realize that the Mazda CX5 doesn’t pack that punch off the red light just from knowing the engine horsepower.  And with its ultra forgiving manual transmission, the CX5 doesn’t offer an adrenaline high in terms of driver engagement.  Flicking the Sport mode instructs the engine controller to latch RPM’s during higher revs, but its feather-light acceleration minimal driver feedback during the acceleration process.

Countering default intuition, the Mazda CX5 surprisingly feels strikingly similar to its Mazda 6 sedan.  In fact, I would say the handling and agility are on par.  Steering remains tight and composed with minimal body roll around cornering, and is quick to respond on sharp maneuvers.

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But what can ultimately be appreciated by the Mazda CX5 is its buttery smooth engine provided by its SKYACTIV powertrain.  And to be honest, there aren’t any other powertrains on the market that offer this level of smoothness in the mid-range category.

Despite the Mazda CX5 costing almost the same as its Mazda 6  sedan sibling with near identical driving behavior, it’s almost a default choice to opt for the Cx5.  I say almost because the CX5 is bigger; thus, weighs more, and that affects fuel efficiency.  Our tested AWD GT model EPA is rated at 24 / 30 MPG, while the Mazda 6 scored a much more respectable 28 / 40 mpg.  With that being said, it’s not a lost cause for the extra added room, convenience of a cross over plus the benefit of AWD traction and the added ride height for climate immunity.

All in all, the Mazda CX5 delivers a very pleasant driving experience that simply does not dissapoint.  Coupled with an ultra quiet interior, plenty of cabin room, tech amenities and decent interior qualities materials used, the Mazda CX5 is one of the most versatile cars on the market to date at an affordable price tag.

Specifications

  • Vehicle : 2016 Mazda CX5
  • Model : Mazda CX5 GT AWD
  • Price as Tested : $38,890
  • Vehicle Type : 5 Passenger Sedan
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Powertrain Configuration : AWD
  • Engine : 2.5L I4
  • Transmission : 6 Speed automatic
  • Fuel Economy: 24 / 30 MPG City/Highway
  • 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT includes: SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine, SKYACTIV-Drive 6- speed automatic transmission with Sport mode, advanced keyless entry w/push button start, Bluetooth w/ audio profile, BOSE audio system w/9 speakers, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, voice-activated navigation system, power moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, Blind Spot Monitoring System (BSM) w/ Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), LED headlights with signature lighting, Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS), LED foglights, LED taillights, 19″ alloy wheels

Pros

  • Great ride quality and comfort
  • Well insulated cabin sound insulation
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Responsive ride handling

Cons

  • Limited power from smaller 2.5L I4 engine
  • Minimal thrill in driving experience