Mazda’s 2018 CX-5 compact AWD crossover just got better than it already was. In fact, CX-5 recently received Good Housekeeping’s 2018 Best New Car Award for its styling, economy and myriad of standard features that most folks want in a family vehicle. Car & Driver Magazine also awarded it one of their 10 Best Trucks/SUVs for 2018.
Like its slightly smaller, award-winning brother CX-3, the CX-5 has almost identical styling lines, interior décor and trim. And like the 3, takes on a classy, sporty look with seating for up to five passengers in a pinch. In fact, my dentist told me he’s trading in his BMW X3 for a CX-5.
Because it’s a bit larger in size than the CX-3, the CX-5 uses a larger 2.5-liter, 187-hp, inline 4-cylinder that puts out an almost identical 186 lb/ft of torque. This gets EPA mileage estimates of 24 city, 30-highway mpg with a 6-speed automatic transmission. And it’s the first four-cylinder compact crossover to employ cylinder deactivation for increased fuel economy.
The powertrain combination allows the CX-5 to tow up to 2,000 pounds. And with its torque curve, there’s no want for power as it builds linearly and provides adequate acceleration for merging into high-speed traffic lanes. Select “Sport” mode and you’ll realize quicker response and higher rev’s.
Also new for 2018 will be a diesel engine option, a first for Mazda in the U.S. market. From preliminary reports it will be a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that should have gobs of torque for increased towing capability and fuel efficiency.
Driving the CX-5 is a treat as it thinks it’s a compact sports car of sorts. Its spirited handling and nimbleness makes parking a breeze. It’s a crossover that’s actually fun to drive. And the ride on 19-inch wheels is firm but smooth. And did we mention quiet?
After a low 18.5-inch step-in into the cabin, you’re treated to posh, snazzy, perforated leather seats. They offer just the right amount of lateral support to hug the torso during spirited driving that the 5 is capable of.
All instrumentation and large HVAC controls are easy to use without having to consult the owners’ manual. A 7-inch display sits atop the dash in iPad fashion and serves audio, rearview camera, navigation and app systems, two of which are handy traffic reports and weather. A rotary dial on the console selects Nav, Home and Audio functions. All in a tidy configuration. There’s also a Heads-Up Display (HID) that shows the cars’ speed (in addition to the traditional speedometer) and posted speed limits for most roads.
If there’s one item that Mazda overlooked, it was that they could have put a smartphone charger in the bin at the bottom of the vertical stack. As is, it’s merely a place to stow small items.
The CX-5 comes loaded with a host of standard safety features including lane departure warning and lane assist that alerts the driver when the car crosses the white or yellow line. An audible warning alerts the driver, and if there’s no response, the system automatically steers the car back into its lane.
Then there’s the standard Smart City Brake Support that senses and attempts to prevent a frontal accident by automatically applying the brakes up to 19 mph. Also standard are rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
Slip into the soft, heated back seats and passengers will have an appreciable amount of leg and headroom. And if no one sits in the middle, a fold down armrest does double duty as a drink holder and mini console box.
As for the cargo area with the rear seats upright, it measures 37.5 inches deep, 43.5 wide and 31.75 high. Flip the 40/20/40 seatbacks and cargo depth extends to 63 inches or 60 cubic feet.
When the going gets tough like in deep snow, a few AWD crossovers have an AWD Lock switch for better traction. But Mazda’s i-ACTIVE AWD is so good at controlling front/rear torque split that it doesn’t need a special off-road mode. If conditions are so slick that it needs to lock the torque coupling completely, it can do that, automatically, in a fraction of a second. In rare cases on uneven paths when a wheel could leave the ground, i-ACTIV AWD will sense that wheelspin and lock the torque coupling so the front and rear wheels go the same speed. (BTW, the “i” stands for intelligent)
Since the CX-5 comes loaded with a long list of standard features and functions too long to list, the base price of $30,945 escalated a bit when adding illuminated door sills ($400), rear bumper guard ($125), retractable cargo cover ($250) the Premium Package ($1,395) containing Active Driving Display with traffic sign recognition, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, windshield wiper deicer and Soul Red Crystal paint ($595), a finish you’d expect seeing on a Ferrari as it’s so eye-grabbing. For all this an the standard features, the CX-5 bottom-lined at $34,685 with delivery.
But that’s not all. CX-5 received four out of a full five stars in the governments overall safety rating; five stars for driver/passenger frontal crash; five for front seat side crash; four for rear seat crash and four stars for rollover. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded it its top safety pick.
Combine all these and you have a top pick for an AWD family crossover.