2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO
Enhancements for 2017 keep the Mazda CX-5 at the head of the affordable compact crossover class
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
• SEE ALSO: Audi Research and Buyers Guide
Since its debut for model year 2013, the CX-5 has become a best-seller, reaching the one million point more faster than any Mazda except the Mazda3. It has been continuously improved since then, with even the 2016 version getting important upgrades with its successor imminent. As is the Mazda way, the 2017 CX-5 is offered in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trim levels. The 2.5-liter engine / six-speed automatic is the only drivetrain. Front-wheel drive is standard, with i-ACTIV all-wheel drive optional across the lineup. The Sport gives you everything you need, and more, with alloy wheels, LED headlights, pollen-filtration air conditioning, pushbutton start/stop, cruise control, Bluetooth® connectivity, a tilt- and telescope-adjustable steering wheel with audio, cruise, and phone controls, useful interior lighting and storage, full instrumentation and a seven-inch touchscreen for infotainment, and more. Seating there is cloth. Touring replaces that with leatherette and more convenience possibilities via option packages. Grand Touring means leather seating, heated in front, most of the contents of the Touring option packages standard, and a Premium Package of driver’s seat memory, power-adjustable front passenger seat as well, heated outboard rear seats and steering wheel, and the “Active Driving Display” heads-up display.
Such was my test example, a front-wheel drive Grand Touring with the Premium Package. So-outfitted, it came close to a much more expensive luxury-brand compact crossover in character and amenities — for a more reasonable price. The Mazda CX-5 can do all of the tasks required of a compact crossover, with a reasonable thirst for unleaded regular, and with a more engaging driving experience than any other similarly-priced vehicle and most that are far more expensive. “Driving Matters” is more than an ad slogan at Mazda.
APPEARANCE: The high, two-box shape is familiar, the details are different, more so than at first glance. Lower, wider headlights that blend into a revised grille are most apparent, followed by a new design for the lower fascia that does away with outboard faux brake ducts. Harder to see at first, but more interesting is side styling that does away with the noticeably humped front fender contour for a flatter and smoother line. Following that, the lower edge of the side windows is now straight, rather than dipping with the fender line as before. Rear styling is a bit simpler, with lower taillights and less bumper sculpting. It’s a crossover so the expected textured plastic trim is found around the lower perimeter.
SAFETY: All CX-5 models get strong safety-oriented unibody construction, front, front-side, and full-length side curtain airbags, a rearview camera, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Brakes are four-wheel disc, antilock of course, with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and Dynamic Stability Control. Touring and Grand Touring get a blind spot monitoring system that illuminates a spot in the appropriate outside mirror and sounds a chime when a vehicle is in range to the side of the CX-5. The system also alerts for rear cross traffic. Smart City Brake Support is standard across the line, with Smart Brake Support, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, radar cruise control, and automatic high-beam control standard in the Grand Touring and package options in the Touring.
RIDE AND HANDLING: A redesign of the CX-5’s unibody increases torsional rigidity by 15 percent, allowing a slightly softer suspension tuning for greater comfort with no loss of control or driving involvement and enjoyment. The 2017 CX-5 sees the first use of G-Vectoring Control, technology that uses engine ignition timing to subtly control chassis dynamics. Since engine, transmission, and steering computer controls are already on speaking terms, a small amount of torque reduction produces just enough engine braking when the steering wheel is turned on corner entry to transfer just enough weight forward to improve front tire “bite” and reduce understeer — and, usually, need for steering correction. As before, the suspension is fully-independent by means of MacPherson struts in front and a multilink system in the rear.
PERFORMANCE: No major changes to the CX-5’s direct-injected 2.5 liter twincam, 16-valve aluminum alloy four-cylinder this year, and none needed. Detail improvements to reduce friction increase maximum horsepower to 187 at 6,000 rpm, from 185 at 5700. Maximum torque stays the same at 185 lb-ft at a low 3250 rpm. The chassis could easily handle more power, but fuel economy is more important in the compact crossover class. The six-speed automatic is optimized for that in its default mode. Sport mode and manual shifting are available when quicker acceleration is desired, or when the driver prefers control over shifting — but even in default there is no “hunting” for gears on grades or other bad behavior. My 25mpg average for the week was mostly due to minimal highway driving - the CX-5 is good enough over the road that the back road is better than the highway.
CONCLUSIONS: A host of enhancements for 2017 keep the Mazda CX-5 at the head of the affordable compact crossover class.
2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD
Base Price $ 29,395
Price As Tested $ 32,785
Engine Type DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with direct fuel injection
Engine Size 2.5 liters / 152 cu. in.
Horsepower 187 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 185 @ 3250 rpm
Transmission 6-speed multi-mode automatic
Wheelbase / Length 106.2 in. / 179.1 in.
Curb Weight 3527 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 18.9
Fuel Capacity 14.8 gal.
Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires P225/55 R19 99V m+s Toyo A36
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS
Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multi-link
Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 24 / 31 / 25
0 to 60 mph 7.6 sec
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Cargo Mat $ 79
Retractable Cargo Cover $ 250
Premium Package — includes: two-position driver’s seat memory, 5-way power front passenger seat, heated rear seats and steering wheel, active driving display, windshield de-icer $ 1,830
Destination Charge $ 940