In a marketplace where all small SUVs start to look the same, the Mazda CX-5 offers an alternative. Agile handling, sporty looks, and a well-trimmed interior make the CX-5 feel somewhat less utilitarian than many rivals. Add in very good fuel economy, a roomy interior and a generous array of features, and the Mazda CX-5 ranks in the top tier of small SUVs. True, a noisy cabin and choppy ride can be nuisances. 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.
Most CX-5s come with a muscular 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. Acceleration is quick, yet the CX-5 posts impressive fuel economy: 25 mpg overall with all-wheel drive. A less powerful engine comes only on base front-wheel-drive models with a manual transmission.
Quick, well-weighted steering and a taut suspension make the CX-5 one of the few small SUVs that can tackle tight curves with poise. A good-sized cabin, spacious rear seat, easy visibility, and versatile cargo space are further pluses. The CX-5's lack of sound deadening and the ride's persistent low-level jiggles will turn some people off. Updates over the years have made it quieter, but it remains relatively loud inside. Mastering the controller knob-based infotainment system takes some doing; it's not immediately intuitive. And although well shaped, the deeply contoured front seats aren't ideal for all physiques.