Road Test: 2018 Mazda CX-5

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 continues to be one of our favorite crossovers when viewed from the perspective of engaging, tech-filled, fun to drive mainstream vehicles.

Mazda made some changes for 2018, employing cylinder-deactivation tech and standard safety tech. We’re very glad to see the highly rated IIHS Top Safety Pick+ LED headlights as standard equipment.

Skyactiv-G 2.5L engine updates were made to reduce internal friction and improve overall fuel efficiency. The engine has the ability to shut down the two outside cylinders at cruising speeds, below certain engine RPMs. There are no indicators or telltale signs to know when the cylinders are off, something we’re curious about but most drivers wouldn’t care to know.

The tech is standard on all CX-5s and according to Mazda, it’s the only four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation in North America.

The engine delivers 187 HP and 186 lb-ft of torque, and is paired to quick-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode and Sport mode. Sport mode holds shifts longer and makes throttle response more lively.

Front-wheel drive is standard and Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive is available on every trim level, feeding information from 27 sensors in order to predict road conditions and send power wherever it’s needed without unnerving drivetrain reactions or slipping during inclement conditions.

Handling is excellent and the ride is on the firm side, unique for a crossover.

Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 24 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined, ands yet we easily averaged 29 combined across a week of mixed driving.

Inside, the CX-5 remains virtually unchanged. Newly standard on all trims are a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and blind spot monitoring with RCTA.

Our Grand Touring tester gained a 2-position memory driver’s seat and 6-way power adjustable passenger seat for 2018, and we much prefer the new Active Driving Display head-up unit over the trick folding lens system of the previous model years.

We love the new heated steering wheel and windshield wiper de-icer, and rear passengers will appreciate the heated second-row outboard seats. The front seats remain incredibly supportive, maybe even slightly narrow for some drivers due to the side bolstering.

The rear seats are spacious and the cargo area is expansive.

And thanks to a well-engineered structure and excellent standard headlights, CX-5 remains an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 7
Braking 8
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 7
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 8
Seating 8
Visibility 8
Gauges and Controls 7
Infotainment 6
Crash-Avoidance 9
Total Score 80

Make: Mazda
Model: CX-5
Trim Level: Grand Touring AWD
Engine: 2.5L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Options: Illuminated Door Sills, Soul Red Paint, Premium Pkg, Bumper Cover

Base Price: $30,945
As-Tested Price: $34,685

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