My recent seat time with the 2017 Honda CR-V and 2018 Chevrolet Equinox proves that the top dogs of the compact crossover segment are a force to be reckoned with, but the all-new 2017 Mazda CX-5 shows that Mazda has no plans of backing down. When it was first introduced for the 2013 model year, the compact crossover segment was rather bland and the Mazda CX-5 brought some excitement to this market with great styling, advanced tech and a great price. The 2017 Mazda CX-5 does all of this even better, and I recently spent a week in Mazda’s middle-child CUV to see how it stacks up against its volume-selling rivals.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Exterior:
The previous CX-5 certainly wasn’t lacking in the styling department, but the 2017 Mazda CX-5 takes Mazda’s KODO design language to a new level. Looking like a scaled down version of the CX-9, the new CX-5 has an almost concept-car-like appearance with its large grille, narrow headlights and eye-catching body lines. Perhaps the best part of this new CX-5 styling is that it has a fresh, new look without losing the soul that made the previous CX-5 instantly loveable. All trim levels now get LED headlights, and the top Grand Touring trim level adds LED fog lights and taillights. The Grand Touring also upgrades to cool-looking, 19-inch alloy wheels, and this tester was finished in one of the CX-5’s premium paint colors – Machine Gray Metallic – for an extra $300.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Interior:
The interior is yet another step forward for Mazda as this 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring has a cabin that is high-tech, luxurious and sporty. The overall theme is attractive with a mostly dark cabin contrasted by the cream-colored leather seats and accent trim. This trim level also brings a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever, metallic accents on the steering wheel and HVAC vents and a dark faux wood trim on the instrument panel and door panels. Standard features on the Grand Touring include the eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, Bose 10-speaker audio system, navigation, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, power liftgate and power moonroof.
Overall, the fit, finish and the quality of materials is extremely impressive for this segment. Mazda has paid close attention to what modern car buyers demand with an easy-to-use infotainment system and plenty of charging options for mobile devices – there’s a power outlet in front of the shifter; a power outlet, aux jack and two USB ports in the front center console, a pair of fast-charging USB ports in the rear center console; and yet another power outlet in the cargo area. The optional $1,830 GT Premium Package brings driver’s seat memory, six-way power front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats and the Mazda Active Driving Display. This color head-up display might be one of the best on the market with the ability to show a lot of information (including turn-by-turn navigation, street sign information and vehicle speed) in a large, clear, easy-to-read layout.
The sporty nature of the CX-5 does result in some overly bolstered front seats with a weird bulge right in the middle of the upper seat back, but other than that, the seats are comfortable and very supportive. The 40/20/40 split folding rear seats have no problem accommodating tall occupants, and while the rear seats can’t slide fore and aft like some rivals, they can recline for added comfort. When it comes to cargo capacity, the CX-5 can hold 30.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 59.6 cubic feet with the seats folded flat; for additional cargo needs, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 has a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Powertrain:
The all-new 2017 Mazda CX-5 promises to bring the long-awaited diesel engine, but for now, the only engine offered is the 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder rated at 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Sadly, there is no more manual transmission option, so the only transmission available is the SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic with a driver selectable Sport mode and manual-shift capability. In this front-wheel drive configuration, the CX-5 has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway**, which is, surprisingly, a decrease in fuel economy by 2 mpg in both city and highway driving compared to the 2016 CX-5 FWD. During my week with the CX-5, I averaged 26.2 in combined driving. This fuel economy along with the 14.8-gallon fuel tank gives the CX-5 decent highway cruising range of almost 460 miles.
If you wanted a sporty crossover, the first-gen CX-5 was already a great choice, but Mazda stepped up its game even more with the 2017 CX-5. While engine output is up slightly (by 3 hp), the biggest improvements made to the 2017 CX-5 were to the chassis, which received significant upgrades for increased rigidity. Mazda says that the SKYACTIV-BODY chassis is 15 percent stiffer that the previous CX-5, and this is obvious in the sporty ride. Making this even better is the new G-Vectoring Control, which acts as an alternative to brake application for stability control by using engine timing to reduce wheel torque. On paper, the 2017 CX-5 is a little more than 100 pounds heavier than its predecessor (as-tested curb weight of 3,527 pounds) but it also sits lower and has about an inch less ground clearance. Bottom line, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 has a more refined ride without giving up the sportiness that has made it one of the best compact CUVs on the market.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Safety:
All 2017 Mazda CX-5 come standard with Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support, and the Touring trim level tacks on Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; the Grand Touring adds even more standard safety with Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning w/ Lane Keep Assist, Smart Brake Support and High Beam Control. With the exception of the Miata, the entire Mazda lineup has a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, so it was no surprise that the all-new CX-5 follows suit; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it a four star overall crash rating despite five-star frontal and side-impact crash ratings.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Overall:
After a week behind the wheel of the 2017 Mazda CX-5, it’s clear that the best definitely got better and this is still a top choice if you’re in the market for a compact crossover that is fun, stylish and affordable. With the loss of the manual transmission model, the starting price of the 2017 CX-5 has risen by $2,250 over the 2016 model year to $24,045*, but this price is just $850 more than the comparable 2016 CX-5 with the automatic transmission. The top GT trim level starts at $29,395* 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD, and this particular car had an as-tested price of $32,535.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Mazda dealership and test drive the exciting 2017 Mazda CX-5 today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.