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2017 Mazda CX-5: 10 Reasons to Love the Compact SUV

2017 Mazda CX-5 | Photo: Mazda
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André Mélançon
The next-generation CX-5 bites at luxury models’ heels

Our first drive of the next-generation 2017 Mazda CX-5 during its North American launch event this past spring left us supremely impressed – a mirror, actually, of the effect the previous generation of the Japanese compact SUV had on us as well. We recently did a more thorough road test of two versions of the new CX-5 to see if our first impressions had been correct. They had.

Here are 10 really good reasons to consider the 2017 Mazda CX-5:

1 - Superb design

Born out of Mazda’s KODO design philosophy, the CX-5 is a style-and-design home run, just like the other Mazda vehicles produced from the same concept (the new CX-9, the 2016 Mazda MX-5). An eye-catching grille, narrow headlamps that extend to the vehicle’s sides, a distinctive rear hatch that sports a spoiler, many design tweaks: a bunch of elements work with the car’s classic yet sporty contours to create a car that’s just pleasant to the eye.

2 – Quality construction

Build quality is evident in the 2017 Mazda CX-5, no matter where you look: the chassis assembly, the materials (in particular the suede finishes in the GS and the perforated leather in the GT), superior sound insulation, etc. Mazda has managed to really distinguish itself from its Japanese competitors, and the CX-5 is even making elbow room for itself among some of the compact luxury SUVs on the market.

3 – Interior ergonomics

The CX-5 may not be the most spacious vehicle in its class, but it can still comfortably accommodate 4 to 5 occupants. The trunk, meanwhile, is adequate thanks to its convenient format as well as the 40/20/40 split fold-down rear row of seats, which we take our hats off to.

4 - Comfort

Comfortable seats, quality materials, excellent 10-speaker Bose audio system, heated rear seats, connectivity system via a touchscreen on the dashboard: the new CX-5 offers an awful lot of comfort and convenience perks.

5 - SKYACTIV technology

SKYACTIV technology has quickly become a veritable (and actual!) trademark for Mazda, touching on a number of elements. The 2.5L 4-cylinder engine (187 hp) provides good power, a smooth ride and maybe most importantly low fuel consumption – its average fuel use is 8.5L/100 km, city/highway combined. The 6-speed automatic transmission with manual mode does yeoman work, as does the i-ACTIV all-wheel drive.

6 – Road performance

Take it out on the road, and the next-generation CX-5 displays impressive balance, with the suspension offering proper comfort levels without sacrificing on sporty driving. The steering and braking are both well-calibrated, and its handling in urban situations is particularly impressive. The CX-5 is quite simply a lot of fun to drive, especially in its GT version fitted with 19-inch wheels and 225/55R19 tires and benefiting from the G-Vectoring Control system.

7 – “Jinba Ittai” philosophy

Cynics may see it as simply a marketing strategy or communications device meant to seduce the automotive press, but Mazda’s “Jinba Ittai” is a genuine, and effective, concept. It starts from the premise that driver and car are, in essence, one. So that the development process strives to create a perfect interaction between the engine and the transmission, the platform, the driving dynamics, the technology… and the hands grasping the wheel.

8 - Safety

With its i-ACTIVSENSE technology, Mazda offers a package of systems designed to make driving a much safer proposition. In the case of the CX-5, its very structural conception optimizes safety in the event of an accident.

9 – Model selection

Its GX base model comes with a 2.0L engine, front-wheel drive and a standard 6-speed manual transmission, while the GX and GS versions are available with a 2.5L engine, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Then there’s the GT edition, which features the Technology package and its many drive assist systems. The CX-5 lineup of available trims is wide-ranging and offers excellent value. Take note that the base model starts at $24,900, while the top-end Tech package-equipped GT starts at $36,300.

10 – Boutique brand

One of the goals Mazda has set for itself is to be a brand to which owners feel a deep sense of emotional attachment. Nowadays Mazda can credibly be considered a boutique brand in the automotive landscape. It has achieved this by paying close attention to design and quality of construction and finish (using outstanding materials and detail elements), without compromising on the driving dynamics and engineering that made its reputation in the first place.

Strong points:

  • - Bang-on design and styling
  • - Build quality
  • - Driving pleasure
  • - Fuel economy
  • - Value sky-high in the industry (top 3 in its segment)

Weak points:

  • Lack of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility
  • Long-awaited diesel version still AWOL
  • Base engine could use more power
  • Manual mode doesn't include paddle shifters on the steering wheel
André Mélançon
André Mélançon
Automotive expert