Road Test: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Mazda has made hundreds of improvements to the 2017 CX-5 after listening to feedback from vehicles owners and professional automotive critics.

Design and sophistication are taken to the next level, with CX-5 taking on a face similar to the new larger CX-9, and safety technology like Smart City Brake Support is now standard on all models. Trim levels include Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.

 Ride and Handling
CX-5 rides on the firm end of the spectrum but is still comfortable. Road bumps and potholes are absorbed with a solid thud.

Stylish 19″ alloys are standard and lend themselves to better handling on CX-5 Grand Touring. Throw the Mazda into the corners of a twisty road and it responds accordingly, providing plenty of feedback while feeling secure. This is one of the most fun to drive crossovers we’ve tested.

G-Vectoring Control is new for 2017 and improves handling overall.

Braking
Four corners of disc brakes feel strong and linear. They provide a reassuring feeling when bringing the CX-5 to a stop.

The automatic brake-hold feature is surprising in this class but appreciated in urban environments; part of the system is an electronic parking brake.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy
The 2.5L powertrain is mated to a 6-speed automatic, putting 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to the pavement through the front wheels.

Around town driving is smooth and peppy. Acceleration and passing on the highway is equally as strong. The transmission shifts smoothly.

During our typical drive week of local and highway mixed driving, fuel economy averages in at 28.7 mpg. EPA rates it at 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined.

Noise
CX-5 is quiet, with little road noise and a slight amount of engine noise, only while accelerating. Wind noise is not perceptible.

Headlights
Adaptive LED low-beam headlights (illuminating into curves using steering input) project a bright and far path of light. The high-beams work equally as well. LED taillights look modern and sexy. Automatic high beams are standard on Grand Touring.

The signature Mazda lighting on the outside is very beautiful. Auto high beams are available on Touring trims and above.

Interior Fit and Finish
Materials all around are of soft-touch, high quality, look and feel well-assembled.

Seating
The seats are very comfortable and well bolstered. The 8-way power driver seat with power lumbar and memory is welcome. A 6-way power passenger seat is also included with the Premium package. The heated steering wheel is excellent but would like to see the entire rim be heated in the future. The front door armrest tapers at the end of the door, exactly where our elbows rest; they should be just as wide there. The center console armrest needs more padding.

Rear seat legroom and comfort is excellent for a 6 foot adult behind a 6 foot driver. The rear seats are also heated as part of the Premium package.

Cargo area is expansive at 30.9 cubic feet with the rear seat up, 59.6 cubic feet with it folded down, and the included retractable cover that attaches to the power rear door is impressive in operation. Remote seatback releases in the cargo area are convenient.

A number of storage areas and a good-sized glove box provide useful day-to-day functionality.

Visibility
The A-pillars are a bit on the wide side but door mounted mirrors help to increase visibility. Visors with extensions that cover the length of the front side window glass is appreciated.

The standard backup camera helps make backing up easy.

Gauges and Controls
CX-5 is quite intuitive and logical overall, with quality switchgear all around. The radio and infotainment system needs to be modified for easier selection of stations and channels though. The knob and button interface is great but the inability to scroll through radio stations is a big oversight as well as having to click around too many times for basic functions like changing sources.

The instrument cluster is perfect, but the 7” infotainment screen is small considering the large width that it takes up on the dashboard. There’s a lot of black area on the left and right of the screen.

The Active Driving Display (head-up display) works perfectly and is a welcome addition in this segment. The traffic sign recognition works every time.

Infotainment
The Mazda Connect system needs a bit of revising; we found it cumbersome to use for core basic functionality and it tended to take quite some time time to boot up upon vehicle starting. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available.

The Bose 10-speaker sound system is excellent and provides strong sound. A 12V port is ahead of the shifter, in the center console storage area, as well as the rear cargo area; well thought out.  Two USB ports are available in the console storage bin and two in the rear for backseat passengers.

Bluetooth call quality was very good thanks to the quiet cabin.

USB, HD and XM radio, and Bluetooth streaming inputs provide endless entertainment.

Crash-Avoidance
All CX-5 trims receive auto emergency braking for 2017, which we truly commend Mazda for doing.

Grand Touring models pack standard full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keeping, blind spot detection, and rear-cross traffic alert.

Crash Test Results
The 2017 CX-5 earns Good ratings in all IIHS crash tests that were completed, with front crash prevention not yet tested. NHTSA rated the CX-5 with four stars overall.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 9
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 7
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score 95
Facts
Make: Mazda
Model: CX-5
Trim Level: Grand Touring
Engine: 2.5L I4
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Premium package
Base Price: $30,695
As-Tested Price: $33,765

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