Mazda CX-5

Deserving reputation in the upper echelon

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Roseville, CA- It may not be the best compact sport utility vehicle on the road today, but there’s no doubt the Mazda CX-5 belongs in the conversation when the talk turns to whose No. 1.

Lined up against a sizable list of small SUVs that includes the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, the CX-5 definitely belongs in the upper echelon. Even though Mazda doesn’t have a luxury brand, some suggest the CX-5 has enough admirable qualities that it deserves a luxury tagline.

The smartly-designed SUV receives high marks for its driving impressions because it handles like a well-behaved sedan. It features responsive steering, a smooth ride, and superb handling on challenging roads. 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 focused on drivability. That’s what the Japanese automaker was aiming for when the CX-5 debuted in 2013. Sales have increased every year and peaked with a high of 154,543 in 2019. Most likely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, sales dipped slightly to 146,420 a year ago.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 arrived with a few appealing new wrinkles. Most notable is the larger infotainment system and the debut of the Carbon Edition trim model. Overall, the latest version of the CX-5 is part of the successful 2017 redesign.

High-quality ride

There’s virtually no argument regarding the CX-5 providing a high-quality ride. Adding to its appeal, the Mazda SUV also has an impressive turbocharged engine – a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder that generates 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The optional engine is available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It goes 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds and the fuel economy is 23-28 mpg.

The standard CX-5 engine is not as powerful, a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder that produces 187 horsepower and 186-pound feet of torque. Freeway passing capability and climbing steep hills can be an issue due to the underwhelming acceleration. It goes 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds, yet is more fuel efficient than the turbo engine, getting 25-31 mpg.

Its safety package on all models includes smart brake support, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, radar cruise control with stop-and-go functions, advanced smart brake support with pedestrian detection, and rear cross-traffic alert.

AT A GLANCE – 2021 MAZDA CX-5

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 187 horsepower; turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 227 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 25-31 mpg; 23-28 mpg
  • Price estimate: $25,400 to $ $37,500
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

The CX-5 has seven trim models (Sport, Touring, Carbon Edition, Carbon Edition Turbo, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, Signature.) The Carbon Edition is painted gray, has red-leather seats and 19-inch black alloy wheels.

Interior of Mazda Cx-5
Upscale design, quality materials and larger display

The interior gets mostly good mark, thanks to its upscale design and using quality materials. The new 10.25-inch display screen is larger than the 2020 version and also easier to use. The cabin is suited well for the driver, who has all controls within an easy reach. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features.

While the CX-5 is spacious up front, the three rear passengers can feel very cramped, especially if it’s three adults. The second row is limited in space and so is the cargo area when comparted to the larger CR-V and RAV-4. The CX-5 has 30.9 cubic feet of space that expands to 59.6 cubes with the second row down.

For a variety of reasons, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a smart buy. Among its strengths is handling, a nice interior, sticker price, and commitment to safety. Its reputation as one of the top small SUVs remains.