2017 Mazda CX-5 Review

2017 Mazda CX-5 - Redesigned for 2017, sporty CX-5 remains sporty while moving upmarket.

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Mazda's compact crossover, the CX-5, has been redesigned for 2017. The five-passenger wagon is similar in size to the 2016 model but sports a freshened exterior and all-new interior. As well, there are new safety and convenience features and a revised engine. Direct competitors include the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4.

The 2017 CX-5 comes in four trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Select and Grand Touring. All are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is tuned to make 187 horsepower. Gone is last year's base 2.0-liter four. The 2.5-liter mates to a six-speed automatic and is available with front- or all-wheel drive.

Prices start at $24,045 and climb to $29,395. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and mitigation, lane-keeping assist and steering-linked headlamps. New comfort and convenience features include Bose audio system, heated steering wheel and head-up display.

Smartly, Mazda ditched the underperforming 2.0-liter engine, leaving the revised 2.5 as the only option. While it is wholly adequate for most circumstances it is one of the least powerful "mainline" engine offerings the class. With a 0-60 sprint of nearly 9 seconds, acceleration from a stop is modest. The same can be said for highway passing response. Making matters worse is a slow responding six-speed automatic that is indecisive in stop-and-go driving. Towing capacity is an underwhelming 2000 pounds.

On the plus side, the 2.5-liter four is one of the more efficient engines in the class, returning 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway in front-drive trim. There's a modest one mpg penalty for all-wheel-drive versions as well. In routine suburban commuting, it is easy to beat the EPA numbers -- provided you throw in a mix of gentle highway driving.

With the maneuverability and security of a sedan and the high-ride of a crossover, the CX-5 has always offered the best ride-handling balance of any compact crossover. That's something that gets even better for 2017. There's minimal body lean in quick corners, powerful brakes and communicative steering. All the while, the ride is refined and supple with nary a hint of harshness. In fact, the composed suspension does an excellent job of filtering out large bumps while controlling undue body motions.

Mazda has done a nice job of taking NVH edge off with the redesign of the MX-5. The engine no longer buzzes in hard acceleration and drops to a whisper at highway speeds. In addition, wind and road noise are nicely muted.

With class-leading materials, top-notch assembly and a modern and sophisticated design, the biggest change to the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is on the inside. Drivers face a trip of gauges from behind a meaty steering wheel. The center stack features a small, but nicely placed display screen and simple dials for the climate control. Ancillary controls are well placed, though the engine start button is hidden to the right of the steering wheel.

Front seats are nicely bolstered and offer great long-haul comfort. Head and leg room are acceptable and outward visibility is excellent. Rear seats aren't the roomiest in the class, but offer above-average comfort for large adults -- provided the front seats aren't pushed all the way back. One downside is a nearly flat rear seat cushion. Entry and exit are easy through large doors and step-in height is modest.

While Mazda has upped the CX-5 technology game with a head-up display and nicely placed steering wheel controls, the infotainment system features a smallish screen and is controlled by a jog dial at the front of the center armrest. In addition, there's no support for Android Auto or Apple Car Play.

Cargo space is 30 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 60 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Certainly not class leading but appropriate for most uses. The hatch opens wide, but the lift over is quite high. Interior storage underwhelms with just a few open and covered cubbies throughout.

The redesigned Mazda CX-5 is significantly better than the model it replaces in all the right ways. Unchanged is the sporty character and overall thriftiness. Stepping up the materials and NVH suppression is a big win in the class and makes the CX-5 stand out in a crowd. Prices aren't too steep but the underperforming engine lacks the punch to match some others in the class. There are so many compact crossovers, be sure to shop around and find the vehicle that best meets your needs.



Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and hardcover automotive titles.

In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on ABC TV, Fox News, and Speed Channel as an automotive consultant. Previously, he was a regular on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show and now fills in for Paul Brian on the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.

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