Crossovers aren’t really my thing, they sit awkwardly between more off-road capable sports utility vehicles and better handling sedans. Plus, most CUVs have had all the style and personality stripped from them in an effort to please a wide variety of shoppers but wow none of them. In a crowd of mediocrity, the Mazda CX-5 stands out. The vehicle is nothing short of stunning.
The first standout feature of my tester for the week was the paint. I’m not normally a fan of red cars, but I’ll make an exception for the $595 Soul Red paint. The color looks great. It’s slightly aggressive and luxurious without being garish.
The large shield-shaped “Soul of Motion” corporate grille is the most prominent feature of the front end of the vehicle. Sweeping below it is a chrome mustache which ties the narrow headlamps together. It’s a very clean first impression and makes the CX-5 look sporty. My only gripe with the front is the hoods shutline, it breaks the clean hood and leaves a weird horizontal break. I’d rather the hood continue unbroken.
The interior of my CX-5 was clad in gorgeous ivory leather and overall the whole cabin is a well thought out and comfortable place to be. Mazda’s iPad-esque infotainment system works well as both a touchscreen and via the large knob control located behind the shift lever. Other than some tasks, like changing a radio preset take far too much work, the system is easy to use and navigate.
The cabin stays quiet on the road, a huge improvement for 2018 as the previous models were quite loud. Even where the soft touch materials end, high quality plastics take over. The ivory leather trim on the doors and console is very nice and as a taller guy I really like the cushioned leather on the sides of the console where my knee touches. The seats on the Grand Touring were supportive and had just the right mix of sportiness and utility.
The backseat had plenty of room, with a rear-facing car seat behind the passenger seat a full-sized adult was still able to ride comfortably in the front passenger seat. You could easily get three adults in the rear seat without too many complaints.
On the road the Mazda CX-5 feels more like a sports sedan than a traditional CUV. It’s taut handling and lack of body roll will please drivers looking for a sharper ride, but the trade-off is a harsher ride compared to the competition. I’ll take responsive handling over softness everyday. The CX-5 accelerates nicely during launch and when merging, but braking felt soft. Fuel economy was also impressive, the tester averaged 29 mpg during the week I had it.
Despite my personal feelings on the matter, the traditional family sedan is dying. If I have to embrace a crossover, the Mazda CX-5 is going to be it. Drop the 2.5T from the CX-9 in it and slap on some bigger brakes and I’d take a CX-5 over most family sedans on the market these days.