Very good fuel economy, agile handling, a roomy interior and a generous array of features put the Mazda CX-5 in the top tier of small SUVs. Still, a noisy cabin and choppy ride can be nuisances for some. But for enthusiast drivers looking for the versatility of a small SUV in a sporty-handling package, the CX-5 may be just what they're seeking.
A new engine was added for the 2014 model year -- a 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder -- and it transformed the driving experience. The muscular powerplant provides noticeably quicker acceleration than the sluggish base 2.0-liter engine, but gets the same impressive fuel economy: 25 mpg overall with all-wheel drive.
Quick, well-weighted steering and a taut suspension system make the CX-5 one of the few small SUVs capable of tackling tight curves with poise. A good-sized cabin and versatile cargo space are further pluses. Even the mid-level Touring trim line, which most customers will select, gets power seats, a backup camera, push-button ignition and a blind-spot warning system.