Mazda CX-5 is a fun-driving SUV that features a nice interior

Roseville, CA- Mazda redesigned its compact crossover sport utility vehicle with a primary focus: keeping the emphasis on driving acumen.

Say hello to the 2017 Mazda CX-5, a small SUV that delivers the ride quality that can match any of its competitors. The CX-5 receives high marks for its driving impressions because it handles like a well-behaved sedan. It features responsive steering, a smooth ride, and the braking is very reliable. It’s also quiet, with wind and tire noise only heard at highway speeds.

It’s no surprise that Mazda has decided to keep the CX-5 focus on drivability. That’s what the Japanese automaker was aiming for when the CX-5 was introduced in 2013. Obviously, the game plan remains basically unchanged.

So, we’ve established that the Mazda CX-5 provides a good ride. Yet don’t confuse it’s driving capability with performance. The acceleration is underwhelming, evidenced by the CX-5 being clocked at 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds. Highway passing capability is average and climbing steep hills can be a challenge.

2017 Mazda CX-5

* Performance: 2.5-liter, four cylinder, 187 horsepower
* Mileage estimate: 24-31 mpg
* Price: $24, 900 to $34,100
* Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

With the 2017 redesign, Mazda abandoned the CX-5’s previous base model engine, a 2.0-liter with manual transmission. Even though the lone engine now is a 2.5-liter, inline-4 that generates 187 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, the end result is it’s still a lacking in the power department. Personally, we would like to see a livelier turbocharged engine as an alternative to the CX-5’s current offering.

Performance is lacking in the CX-5 and the gas mileage can’t match other SUVs that have added the popular turbo engines. The CX-5, which is comes in Sport, Touring, Grand Select and Grand Touring trim models, gets approximately 24-31 mpg.

In the Mazda SUV lineup, the CX-5 slots between the subcompact CX-3 and the CX-9, the manufacture’s large model that offers three rows of seating. Competition for the CX-5 remains the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, CR-V or RAV4, Subaru Forester, and Kia Sportage.

Besides the engine change, the redesign also includes some exterior modifications, most notably the addition of a concave, black grille. This is a welcome change and adds to the CX-5’s already attractive exterior appearance. Enhanced safety features and new technology are also welcome additions.

The CX-5 interior gets mostly good marks. It’s a modernized cockpit that is both appealing and functional. It has the desired soft-touch surfaces and provides comfort and room for all five occupants. The cargo area has 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space that nearly doubles when the second row of seats is folded. Another plus for this SUV is its excellent safety ratings.

We like the 2017 Mazda CX-5 for a variety of reasons. Among its strengths is being a fun-driving SUV that features a nice interior. It’s not easy to be a standout in this crowded field of fine compact SUVs, but the CX-5 has become a notable entry despite its lack of performance.