Test Drive Notes Library
- Ride and handling. Before you drop $50K on an Audi Q5, you should probably drive this loaded, $38,000 Mazda CX-5 first. It might be good enough. The suspension system in the CX-5 is noticeably better than most other compact crossovers. It handles and corners extremely well, really digging in and holding the road with little body lean. At the same time, the ride is supple. It absorbs road imperfections and limits body motion better than some more expensive cars. The sophistication of the suspension on this car is impressive.
- Sporty. Crossovers tend to be family commuter cars. They tend to be utilitarian. This one is actually sporty and fun to drive. The road holding and driving dynamics are excellent, steering feel is great, and the CX-5 is fun to drive when you’re not carting a two-year-old slinging mashed peas from his car seat.
- Plenty of power. Our CX-5 Signature AWD came with the upgraded, 227 hp turbo charged engine, which was more than adequate to move the car nicely. Lower trim CX-5’s come with a 187 hp 2.5 non-turbo.
- Nothing but some engine noise. The cabin is pretty quiet, except for the engine growl, which is in keeping with the sporty personality of the CX-5. Road and wind noise are kept out nicely.
- Simple, but classy interior. We’d describe the CX-5 interior as den-like. Ours had black everything. Surfaces were smooth and padded. Calming rather than flashy. We found the seats, front and rear, to be comfortable, and found adequate cargo room behind the rear seats.
- Up to date safety. It has all the safety stuff that Car Talk recommends, and they come standard with the Signature trim we tested. It also has a good, clear, head up display.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Infotainment controls. The design of the infotainment controls make sense, but they’re not as easy to use as some others. The system operates with either a rotary BMW-like controller, or via the touch screen. But the smallish (though well-placed, high up) screen could have used more real estate to show more icons at once. Instead, you have to rotate through the icons until you find what you want, and the icons are not labeled as well as they could be, which means it takes time to decode them. The navigation graphics look a bit like an old Garmin unit. Rumor has it improvements are coming soon.
- Mileage. If you’re looking for the best mileage in a compact SUV, you’ll want to look at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Honda CR-V Hybrid. The penalty for the sophisticated suspension and superior ride in the CX-5 is mediocre mileage for its class. While the 6-speed transmission works well, other vehicles are using 7, 8, 9, and 10 speed transmissions, which improve mileage. The EPA rates it at 24 mpg overall, and we saw a little less than that.
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