2016 Mazda CX-5: The Crossover All Others Are Measured By

When the CX-5 was first introduced in 2012, it was an overnight success story for Mazda. Beautiful design coupled with unparalleled technology, efficiency and value. Since then, the other brands have all been playing catch-up, offering more and more CX-5-like features and driving experience. So we thought this would be a good time to check in on the CX-5 to see how it stacks four years later.

We got a fully-optioned GT version to drive, which is packed with a ton of features for its $32k sticker price. You get adaptive lighting, blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic detection, forward-collision warning, radar cruise control, braking assist and smart-city braking. Coupled with the Skyactiv 2.5-liter powerplant, which gets an impressive 24-mpg city and 30-mpg highway, even with the all-wheel drive, you can get a front-drive version with the 2.0-liter and get as much as 35-mpg highway.

All this is achieved without any batteries or hybrid technology. Simply making all of the components of a standard engine as precisely as possible, and using a unique variable-timing system yield such impressive mileage without all the added complexity and potential waste of a hybrid system. It pays to keep in mind all the mining, manufacturing and eventual disposal that is needed to manufacture the batteries used in most Hybrid vehicles. Few owners take that into account when trying to understand the full environmental impact of their vehicle. In fact, the CX-5 was a finalist for Green Car of The Year in 2013 from the ‘Green Car Journal.’

All the technology and efficiency aside, how does the CX-5 drive? Well, with such impressive mileage, you might think it’s boring to drive – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The soul of Mazda has always been performance, and specifically handling. This CX-5 is no exception, and still has a class-leading driving experience. The engine is powerful, and the suspension soaks up a bumpy road as well as it handles a curvy road. You feel the history of all those race-winning Mazdas through the steering, and it makes driving such a practical vehicle fun. It’s the perfect car for those who enjoy driving, but need a crossover to carry their family.

I’m not the biggest fan of the whole crossover segment, as I’ve said before – station wagons are my thing, as they are for many car enthusiasts. But I feel the Mazda lives up enough to the brand’s sports-car intentions, and enough of the nimble Miata’s DNA makes it here, that a true enthusiast can enjoy a crossover like this.

When you combine the looks, driving experience, technology and safety with the price – this is a value that’s hard to beat. The interior quality stands up as well, with enough luxury materials to justify its price, but enough of a sporty look to satisfy those who aren’t in the wine-and-cheese crowd. The seats are sporty and supportive, especially over a long distance. One omission here that you can get in some competitors is cooled seats, but they definitely are at least heated. The contrasting stitching and aluminum trim pieces give a nice German feel to the interior.

The go-anywhere nature of a crossover like this can be debated, but there’s all-wheel drive and enough ground clearance to do some moderate off-road work, especially to take you to your campground. With plenty of cargo room in back, safety features to get you there and a driving experience that’s more fun than a chore – you’ll arrive safely and with a smile already on your face.

Jason.S@mychinews.com

Special thanks to 

Mazda Motor of America, Inc. 

for providing this week’s car, 

the 2016 Mazda CX-5 

 

Grand Touring AWD.