2016 Mazda CX-5 Reviews and Ratings

2016.5 FWD 4dr Man Sport

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Expert Reviews ( 2 )

2016 Mazda CX-5
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

For 2016, Mazda CX-5 gets updated styling and a redesigned interior stuffed with the latest features. The 2016 CX-5 benefits further from a revised suspension along with more sound-deadening measures, all intended to deliver greater ride comfort and a quieter cabin than did the 2015 model. CX-5 was launched as a 2013 model.

Mazda CX-5 is a five-passenger compact crossover utility vehicle in the same class as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Kia Sportage, and Subaru Forester. The CX-5 offers a choice of all-wheel drive or front-wheel-drive.

CX-5 distinguishes itself from the other compact utility vehicles, or CUVs, with its sleek styling, excellent fuel economy and agile handling. It looks great and it’s more fun to drive than the CR-V or RAV4.

We found the CX-5 Sport with the 2.0-liter engine delivered respectable performance, though some competitors offered more power. The 2016 Mazda CX-5 Sport rates an EPA-estimated 26/35 miles per gallon City/Highway with manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

The more powerful Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter engine makes the CX-5 Touring and Grand Touring models the better performers. With this engine, CX-5 scores an EPA-rated 26/33 mpg with the automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, 24/30 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Model Lineup

The 2016 CX-5 Sport ($21,795) is front-wheel drive and comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and manual gearbox. CX-5 Sport comes with cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, four-speaker audio.

2016 CX-5 Touring and Grand Touring models come with a newer 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic. Touring ($25,215) upgrades the cloth upholstery and technology. Grand Touring ($28,220) and Grand Touring AWD ($29,470) upgrade with leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Bose Surround Sound with nine speakers.

Walkaround

Mazda CX-5 is larger than it looks. Overall length, width, and height are nearly an inch larger than those of the Honda CR-V. However, at 106.3 inches, the CX-5 wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer than that of the CR-V; a longer wheelbase generally equates to improved ride quality and high-speed stability.

For 2016, the grille has been reshaped, the headlights have been slimmed down and connected to the grille with bars of brightwork, and LED lighting is available front and rear.

The styling uses Mazda’s KODO design language intended to reflect the grace and power of animals. We think the sculptured lines and pronounced wheel arches do lend a sense of motion and muscularity, especially noticeable in morning and evening light. The body tapers outward toward the bottom, lending a look of stability. CX-5’s coefficient of drag is a slippery 0.33.

Interior

Mazda CX-5 seats five adults. The front bucket seats are sportier and more supportive than most in this class. The chunky steering wheel feels good; it’s perfectly centered and tilts and telescopes. Forward sightlines are better than most and big mirrors offer a good view rearward.

For 2016, the handbrake has been replaced by a smaller electronic brake switch, allowing more space for the center console. Mazda’s latest infotainment setup, Mazda Connect, is included.

It’s a simple, straightforward cabin. Interior materials are high quality, with extensive use of soft-touch vinyl and very little hard plastic. Instruments and controls are nicely laid out, well marked, easy to read and use. Cubby storage is decent. Reflections from the center stack are a bit of an issue on sunny days.

Getting in and out of the back seats is easy and it’s comfortable for two. The center rear position isn’t someplace we’d care to occupy for more than an hour.

The rear seats fold nearly flat, but not completely. Cargo capacity is 34 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which expands to 65 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks all folded forward.

Driving Impressions

Agile handling makes the Mazda CX-5 fun to drive.

The 2.0-liter engine in the CX-5 Sport provides better acceleration performance than you might expect. The 2.0-liter engine works particularly well for driving briskly along winding roads or cruising on the freeway.

The 2.5-liter engine in CX-5 Touring and Grand Touring models offers stronger performance. Acceleration is frisky from a standstill or for passing maneuvers. Hitting the gas while cruising at 40 mph yields an alert, rapid boost in velocity.

The 6-speed automatic transmission reacts promptly to the driver’s wishes and it’s smooth, delivering almost imperceptible upshifts and downshifts as load conditions demand. A semi-manual feature allows the driver to change gears but we found it worked best to put it in D and let it do its thing.

CX-5 Sport’s manual gearbox is a pleasure to operate with crisp shift gates and positive engagements, arguably the best in this class.

The electric power rack-and-pinion steering system is the best in the class, quick and accurate, precise, intuitive. Few corrections are needed while driving down a bumpy road and we found the CX-5 feels more stable at high speeds than a Honda CR-V does.

Suspension tuning tends toward sporty. Ride quality is firm but compliant, European in character. There is some head toss on bumpy roads, however. The CX-5 felt firmly planted and secure when driving down wet, bumpy, curvy back roads at speed. We didn’t sense a big difference between the 17- and 19-inch tires.

We appreciated the grip and sure-footedness of the all-wheel drive while driving through the rain down a winding valley road and while speeding around a wet Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. If you live in a particularly dry climate, however, you could save a little on the purchase price, get slightly better fuel economy and slightly more lively handling feel with front-wheel drive.

Summary

Mazda CX-5 is easy to drive, efficient, comfortable and versatile. Handling agility and accurate steering make it entertaining for the driver. All-wheel drive gives it sure-footed traction, but a front-wheel-drive CX-5 Sport with manual gearbox.

2016 Mazda CX-5
NADAguides Test Drive Review

An award recipient in the J.D. Power Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, this CUV is meant for utilitarian-focused buyers who enjoy driving.

  • MSRP: $25,125 (Touring FWD model)
  • Tested Price: $27,765 (includes $880 destination fee)
  • 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission
  • 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque
  • 26 mpg in the city
  • 33 mpg on the highway
  • 29 mpg combined
  • Cargo Volume: 34.1-cubic feet behind second row; 65.4-cubic feet when second row is folded down

Our tester came with the Moonroof/Bose Package ($1,130), which includes a power moonroof and nine speaker Bose audio system. It also came equipped with a retractable cargo cover ($200), cargo mat ($60), door sill trim plates ($125), rear bumper guard ($100), and wheel locks ($55).

Hits

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel adds a premium touch
  • Steering feel and tightness of handling stand out in a somewhat  
  • low amount of NVH for its segment
  • Engine finally gives enough oomph
  • Lever releases in rear cargo area make dropping the rear seats very easy. 
  • Great visibility
  • Awesome infotainment system is really easy to use
  • All control layout is simple to use and intuitive
  • Massive cargo utility with seats folded down
  • Full size spare (something we’re seeing less of in this cost-conscious segment)
  • Great MPG without turbocharging

Misses

  • No straps to easily pull rear seats back up when standing behind cargo area
  • No hooks in rear cargo area for grocery bags to ensure they don’t slide around in transit
  • Higher profile tires add to a cushier ride, but tend to compromise handling when pushed
  • Sunroof cover materials feel of lower quality than the rest of the vehicle

Value Retention

In regards to value retention, the Mazda CX-5 sits in sixth place (out of 22) within the two-year-old compact utility segment by holding 68.6% of its value in 2015.  Mazda’s CUV outperforms the segment value retention score average of 63.2% for 2015.


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