Buyers of compact crossovers are generally practical people looking for an equally practical vehicle. Styling’s on the list of semi-important criteria somewhere after pricing, roominess, safety, features and fuel economy but with the new CX-5, it comes standard, and at no extra cost.
After a week’s drive, I still looked back at the small ‘ute’s clean, nearly high-end front end and svelte body covered in that Soul Red Crystal colour that could make a Suzuki X-90 look exotic. My GS trimmed tester did without the 19” wheels and roof rails yet still could pass as a $50k vehicle.
This Mazda’s more than just a pretty face however. The Japanese brand is hard at work making their vehicles drive as good as they look. The new CX-5 has matured into a quiet and smooth operator with minimal levels of NVH disturbing all on board. Within the confines of the CUV, passengers are treated to plenty of room and upfront, the dashboard is clean, and user-friendly switchgear. Mazda CONNECT is now standard on all CX-5’s and I’ll admit it’s not the easiest to navigate.
As with all Mazdas, the CX-5 is entertaining to drive. The standard with AWD 2.5-litre 4-cylinder generates enough juice to get around and is wonderfully paired to the 6-speed automatic transmission. The fully independent suspension provides agility and a fair level of comfort, perfect for country drives and city escapes.
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 pleases on every conceivable level. In fact, in the segment, I’d have to give the top spot. The newest Honda CR-V is a strong contender and I have a soft spot for the VW Golf Alltrack but the Mazda is the best rounded of the lot. At $31,100, the GS AWD is equipped for the daily grind. My tester featured the i-Active sense and comfort packages for a total of $33,950.