The Mazda CX-5 is a compact crossover with a choice or standard or turbocharged four-cylinder engines.
Anyone looking for a compact crossover with seating for up to five should have the Mazda CX-5 high on their list of vehicles to consider.
This is one of the best-handling and well-designed crossovers in its class, and it has the typical Mazda sporty driving characteristics.
For 2021, the CX-5 got a larger infotainment display, along with updated safety features and a stylish new Carbon Edition trim level.
Built in Japan on a Mazda-designed chassis, the CX-5 is positioned in the lineup between the full-size, seven-passenger CX-9, and the smaller CX-30 and CX-3 crossovers.
Powering the CX-5 is either Mazda’s normally aspirated Skyactiv 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 186 foot-pounds of torque, or the optional Dynamic Pressure Turbo 2.5-liter four with 250 horsepower and 320 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is used on all models.
Prices begin at $25,370 (plus $1,225 freight) for the base front-wheel-drive Sport model with the base engine, and run as high as $37,505 for the top-of-the-line Signature model with the turbo engine and all-wheel drive.
In between are the Touring model ($27,110) with the base engine and front-wheel drive; the new Carbon Edition ($28,955) with front drive and the base engine; the Grand Touring ($30,760) with the base engine and front drive; the Carbon Edition Turbo ($30,660) with front drive; and the Grand Touring Reserve ($35,385) with the turbo engine and all-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive may be added to any of the front-drive models for an additional $1,400.
The Skyactiv six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly for steady acceleration, and has a manual-shift mode as well. EPA ratings for the base engine models are 25 mpg city/31 highway/28 combined with front drive, and 24/30/26 with all-wheel drive.
Special features on the new Carbon Edition models include 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Black Metallic finish, fitted with P225/55 R19 all-season tires; black power-adjustable outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals; black interior and door-panel trim; leather seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift with red stitching; eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support and two-position memory; and a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
Signature models include numerous premium features, including Nappa leather upholstery.
There is room for up to five people in the 2021 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover.
All CX-5 versions feature Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus technologies for improved handling befitting of a Mazda-engineered vehicle.
The turbo engine, included with the six-speed automatic with sport mode and manual-shift feature on our Signature tester, produces 227 horsepower and 310 foot-pounds of torque using regular unleaded gasoline, or the 250 horsepower and 320 foot-pounds of torque when using premium fuel (93 octane or above).
This combination gave our CX-5 the feel of a V-6, and there was no noticeable lag as the turbocharger spooled up during hard acceleration.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the Touring trim level and above. Touring models and above also now come with a SiriusXM three-year Traffic and Travel Link subscription.
The reconfigurable seven-inch TFT gauge display is included on the Grand Touring trim level and above, while the Signature model includes a 360-degree view camera system with front and rear parking sensors
Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models have heated and ventilated front bucket seats, along with standard heated rear seat.
Our Signature all-wheel-drive tester came in the premium Soul Red Crystal exterior color ($595), with the new Caturra Brown Nappa leather seats. Other available premium colors are Snowflake White Pearl Mica ($395), and Machine Gray Metallic ($495).
The Touring Preferred Package is offered on Touring models for $1,445; and the Grand Touring Premium Package on that trim level is $1,625.
Among recent changes were a new cylinder-deactivation system for the base four-cylinder gasoline engine, which cuts out two of the cylinders during level cruising to conserve fuel.
Signature models come with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Dark Silver finish and P225/55 R19 all-season tires; a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink; LED lighting for glovebox, cargo area and vanity mirrors; a unique overhead console with LED room light; the Mazda Navigation System; genuine layered-wood trim; leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique stitching; black cloth headliner; 360-degree monitor; front and rear parking sensors; Driver Attention Alert; and Smart City Brake Support-Reverse.
The i-ACTIVSENSE safety technology package was standard on our tester, bringing High Beam Control, Lane-Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, radar cruise control, Smart Brake Support, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic on/off headlights.
This is the second generation of the CX-5, but it still looks much like its predecessor.
EPA ratings for the Signature’s turbo engine with all-wheel drive are 22 mpg city/27 highway/24 combined.
Originally introduced for 2013, the CX-5 replaced the compact Tribute, which was a clone of the previous-generation Ford Escape; and the CX-7, which was slightly larger outside than the CX-5, but with less interior space.
As with other current Mazda vehicles, the CX-5 features Mazda’s “SkyActiv” technology, with a variety of features that include engine, transmission and suspension components.
This newest CX-5’s dimensions are nearly identical to those of the previous model, and passenger capacity is still five – there is no third-row seat available. It’s 179.1 inches long, compared with 179.3 for the previous generation, but it has the same 106.3-inch wheelbase.
CX-5 is sold in more than 120 countries, and accounts for about one-fourth of Mazda’s global sales volume.
The Signature model has a two-tone instrument panel with the audio/navigation screen sticking up out of the center of the dash top.
Enhancements with the redesign helped to give the CX-5 a quieter and more comfortable ride. The CX-5 is roomy enough for four adults (five in a pinch) and their luggage.
There is 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row of seating; with that seat folded, space expands to 59.8 cubic feet.
The interior has an upscale look and feel, with premium materials throughout.
CX-5’s all-wheel-drive system is not intended for serious off-road use, as it does not include low-range gearing. But it works well in low-traction situations, including on wet, slippery roads, dirt and gravel, and even sand.
Among standard features, even on the base Sport, are a rearview camera, electronic parking brake; an upgraded center console, dash and armrest design; 17-inch alloy wheels; cloth upholstery; LED headlights and the Mazda Connect infotainment with a seven-inch screen and Bluetooth audio streaming and phone pairing.
Grand Touring models and above come with a power liftgate, navigation, Bose premium audio with 10 speakers, a power moon roof, adaptive headlights, keyless entry with pushbutton start, automatic door locks and a rear roof rack.
Our Signature tester also came with the Active Driving Display (a head-up display showing at the bottom of the windshield) with Traffic Sign Recognition; heated steering wheel, and windshield-wiper de-icers.
The speed limit notification on the Active Driving Display changed as the system read the signs. Sometimes, though, it showed the wrong speed limit, apparently taking it from its navigation database instead of the nearby speed limit signs. The CX-5 has a warning message that comes on after a few seconds if the driver takes his hands off the steering wheel, telling the driver to take the wheel. This is tied to the Lane Keep Assist system to remind the driver that this is not a self-driving car.
Lane Keep Assist gently guides the vehicle back toward the lane it’s already in if it starts to drift into an adjacent lane and the driver has not activated the turn signal for a lane change.
In typical Mazda fashion, the CX-5 handles more like a sport sedan than a utility vehicle. The suspension easily handles twisty country roads, as well as the unpaved park roads in our home area.
Our vehicle’s front seats were comfortable even on a long highway drive, and our rear-seat passenger was comfortable and had plenty of leg and knee room. The middle rear seating position is a bit tight for an adult. But that is the best place to put a child seat.
When the middle position is not being used for a passenger, there is a pull-down armrest with two cupholders available for the rear passengers.
We had four USB ports in the cabin, with plenty of space in the center console for our phones.
Other standard safety features include electronic stability control with traction control, automatic high beams, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, hill-launch assist, front seat-mounted side air bags, and front/rear roof-mounted side-curtain air bags.
Towing capacity of the CX-5 is just 2,000 pounds, but that can accommodate a small pop-up camper, cargo trailer or fishing boat.
With the turbo engine and all-wheel drive, we averaged 22.6 mpg with a mix of about 60/40 highway/city driving.
Other than the premium paint, the only extra on our Signature tester was the rear bumper guard ($125).
Total sticker price, including freight and options, was $39,450 for our 2021 CX-5 Signature with all-wheel drive.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Express-News since 2000. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3. 2021 Mazda CX-5
The package: Compact, five-passenger, five-door, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder powered, crossover utility vehicle. Highlights: Mazda’s new compact crossover, which arrived for 2013, moved into its second generation with a redesign for 2017, and two new high-end trim levels were added for 2019, featuring a new turbocharged engine. This vehicle is all Mazda, and has a large list of standard amenities even on the base model. It’s stylish, comfortable and fun to drive – a hallmark of Mazda vehicles. Negatives: Rear middle seat position tight for adults or large children. No third-row seat available. Engine: 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, normally aspirated (base); 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder, turbocharged (Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models). Transmission: Six-speed automatic. Power/torque: 187 HP./186 foot-pounds (base); 227 HP. (250 HP. with premium fuel)/310 foot-pounds (turbo). Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock. Length: 179.1 inches. Curb weight: 3,541 pounds (front drive); 3,679 pounds (AWD). Cargo volume: 30.9 cubic feet (behind rear seat); 59.6 cubic feet (rear seatback folded). Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds. EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city/31 highway/28 combined (2WD, base engine); 24/30/26 (AWD, base engine); 22/27/24 (AWD turbo). Fuel capacity/type: 14.8 gallons (2WD); 15.3 gallons (AWD)/regular unleaded. Base price range: $25,370-$37,505, plus $1,225 freight. Price as tested: $39,450, including freight and options (2021 Signature model). Major competitors: Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sportage, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Outlander, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Outback. On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.