WASHINGTON — The compact crossover is not usually known for great driving dynamics, but Mazda has been hanging its hat on the sporty side of crossovers.
While always fun to drive, it was a little rough for some buyers who wanted more cushiness than stiff, sporty handling. The last Mazda CX-5 was also a bit noisier with more road and wind noise. So in this next edition, did Mazda fix those small things to make it a better all-around fit?
It looks like Mazda got the message, as there’s a marked improvement in the ride. The CX-5 doesn’t seem to lose any of the sporty handling. It still loves curves but there is a more composed ride on bumps; the harshness it had before is gone, and the cabin is more hushed, too. The wind and road noise is down considerably and more in line with the rest of the crossover class. It makes it easier to deal with on the normal commute.
There is a trick G-Vectoring Control that seems to help with handling and tightens up the turns a bit. It works by slowing down one of the wheels in a turn, but you never notice it. It works very well. Power comes from a 2.5L four-cylinder engine good for 187 horsepower; it’s enough power most of the time. I wish there was more to fit its sporty nature and help out when merging with a loaded-up car. Fuel economy for the AWD CX-5 is a combined 26 mpg. I only managed 24.5 in 336 miles of driving.
Inside is where the 2017 CX-5 seems to jump ahead of the class. I spent time with the top-of-the-line Grand Touring model that, with all the options, stickers at $34,085, which seems to be the going rate for loaded small crossovers nowadays. It seems more expensive than that price suggests.
The heated leather sport seats are a very good quality, supportive and comfortable. My ride had the optional premium package that adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a windshield wiper de-icer — all useful for winter driving. Plus, there is a head-up-display that appears on your windshield to offer your speed, speed limit signs and NAV directions so you don’t have to look away. Passengers in the rear seats are treated to nice accommodations for two adults and even a third in a pinch. Cargo space is competitive in the class with good room. Layouts for radio and NAV controls are changed and more luxury-car like with a wheel in the middle of the console to control most functions. Even the volume and radio tuning is done behind the shifter. It takes some getting used to, especially if you are familiar with a touch screen and knobs on the dash area.
For 2017, Mazda also tweaked the styling with a revised looking front end. The headlights are new with a slimmer, modern look. The grill is also new, with a slightly new angle with tiny fog lights that slide into the lower fascia, almost disappearing into the bodywork. The side view is bolstered by the 19-inch wheels that come on the Grand Touring trim level. There are also interesting angles toward the rear with angled rear side glass to announce that this isn’t “some minivan.” Rear styling seems to have adopted more of the new CX-9 look. Dual exhaust tips and smaller rear taillight assembly with some nice-flowing shapes offer a minimal, yet stylish look for this segment.
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring is a top contender in the compact crossover class. An improved ride with less noise makes it a better all-around crossover than before. But now with a premium interior, it’s a nice comfortable place to spend time in luxury for the price of a normal compact crossover.
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