2016 Mazda CX-5

Starting MSRP: $21,795 - $29,470

Estimated MPG: 26 city / 35 hwy

2016 Mazda CX-5 Review

Considered the best driving vehicle in the compact SUV class, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 arrives with a midcycle refresh. New visual cues and some further enhancements now mark the crossover's reputation as a vehicle that will satisfy a wide range of buyers.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 05/03/2016

Introduced for 2013, the Mazda CX-5 was one of the first vehicles to feature Mazda's Skyactiv technology. For 2016, the CX-5 has undergone a midcycle refresh, with both exterior and interior changes that will be noticeable. Mazda offers two engines on the CX-5: a base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a bit more power. A six-speed manual transmission and a six-speed automatic are also offered along with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

Exterior

Exterior
9

Mazda's "KODO – Soul of Motion" design language was first applied to the CX-5. It remains today with some updates for 2016, including a new grille, new headlamps, new taillights, new fog lamps, new wheels and some minor trim changes.

What has not changed is the tall, compact stance that gives the CX-5 its unique silhouette. At 65.7 inches high and 179.3 inches long, the CX-5 is easy to maneuver around town and in tighter places far away from home. All four doors open wide – almost 90-degrees in the rear. The liftgate opens wide and high for ease of loading.

Interior

Interior
9

Other mid-cycle changes for the CX-5, include a new button for the drive modes on the console, along with the integration of the newest infotainment system first introduced on the Mazda3 for 2014. Otherwise, the CX-5 offers a straightforward instrument panel with a three-dial binnacle including a speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and an information screen with trip and fuel economy information. The center stack houses the infotainment screen with the climate control switches below, leading down to the console itself.

The gear lever is short and the switches are spaced well around it. Steering wheel switches are stalks that are unique, well placed and good to the touch and operation. Materials quality is high throughout the cabin.

Four-to-five people can sit comfortably with plenty of rear legroom. Our test CX-5 Grand Touring had a power front driver's seat with variable adjustments for height, rake and recline. The front passenger seat offers the same using manual controls. Seats can be a bit firm for some bodies, but there is some bolstering available up front to keep occupants in place.

Rear seatbacks also fold down in a 60/40 split-folding configuration, with a completely flat floor for extended cargo space. With the seats folded up, the CX-5 offers 34.1 cubic feet of cargo room, expandable to 65.4 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

Performance

Performance
9

Two four-cylinder engines are available on the CX-5, displacing either 2.0 or 2.5 liters. The 155-horsepower 2.0-liter engine is only available in the base Sport model with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. This version gets 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

All other models get the larger 184-horsepower engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and the choice of either front- or all-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, this CX-5 gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The CX-5 is known to be more of an enthusiast's crossover. Ride quality is very good, thanks to a long 106.3-inch wheelbase. Handling is controlled with some roll in the corners. At 3,589 pounds, our tester offered a great balance of performance and stability. Brakes are good with solid action from the pedal. The steering system is one of the best in this class, with great response from the wheel and a sharp turning radius.

Technology

Technology
9

Mazda's latest infotainment system addressed a complaint against the CX-5. The screen is very intuitive and is controlled by a knob and a series of buttons on the console. Navigation functions are greatly improved with better voice recognition and screen prompts. This system also includes full integration of mobile apps, such as Pandora Internet Radio. A Bluetooth connection enables these apps and full smartphone integration for hands-free driving. Radio listeners will have a large preset bank to fill through the "Favorites" screen. There is no separation between AM, FM and SiriusXM stations on the Favorites tab. There is a set of USB and AUX in jacks available for more connections to the system.

Safety

Safety
10

The CX-5 earned a Top Safety Pick + award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It earned top ratings of Good in all IIHS crash tests, along with a Superior rating on front crash prevention. The CX-5 earned four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It earned five stars in NHTSA side impact crash tests and four stars in front crash and rollover tests.

Choosing the Technology package will add the Smart City Braking Support system to the CX-5. 

The Grand Touring Model offers an i-ActivSense package that adds adaptive cruise control with close proximity warning, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a distance recognition support system and high-beam control. All CX-5s feature six air bags, anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
9

With a base price of $21,795, the 2016 CX-5 is pretty competitive with its peers in the class. This gets you a Sport model with front-wheel drive, the 2.0 liter engine and a manual transmission. Our fully loaded Grand Touring tester with all-wheel drive came with a sticker price of $34,140. This is about the range of pricing found across most of its class. Yet, the CX-5 offers plenty of value for each price point in terms of both standard and available features, as well as quality inside and out.

Overall

Overall
9

The compact SUV segment is the most competitive class in the U.S. automobile market right now. The CX-5 competes against models like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Cherokee, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan.

When the Mazda CX-5 first came out, reviewers called it a crossover version of the MX-5 Miata. It is a very sporty model with good road manners and just enough friendliness to make it a good choice for families.