2021 Mazda CX-5 review: Fun at the forefront

Even nevertheless you can be getting fun at the rear of the wheel, the CX-5’s styling assures you keep on being beneath the radar.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

In some cases, building a improve usually means shedding sight of what you utilised to hold dear. Luckily, that’s not the scenario for the 2021 Mazda CX-5. Though the Japanese automaker has injected its latest autos with inexpensive doses of luxurious-level trimmings, the firm has not lost sight of the fun-to-drive character that introduced individuals into its showrooms in years past. If nearly anything, it only helps make this compact crossover a lot more compelling.


  • Fun to drive
  • Adequately fancy interior
  • Economical

Will not Like

  • Mild on cargo place
  • Middling MPGs
  • Lack of touchscreen is not for everybody

Trend forward

Devoid of harsh angles and eye-grabbing garishness, I enjoy the CX-5’s thoroughly clean entire body traces, with only a hint of aggression on the hood supplying way to subdued curves on the sides. It really is a little anonymous, confident, but I feel it’s attention-grabbing in the compact crossover segment rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue are content material to go challenging in the paint with special styling but a standard glossing-above of driving dynamics, whilst Mazda’s taking the opposite tactic.

The finest elements of the CX-5’s structure are inside of. This cabin is 1 of my favorites in the segment just like the exterior, Mazda chooses to prioritize cleanliness above whiz-bang, glimpse-at-me styling. Blend that with a entire ton of impressively soft leather-based on my Signature-trim tester, and you have an interior that borders on bona-fide luxurious — and for less than the regular new-vehicle transaction price tag. The entrance seats are roomy and supportive without having remaining tight, and even though the rear seats may well be a little cramped for folks above 6 feet tall, there is nonetheless a respectable amount of place back there.

Storage is a little bit of a combined bag, nevertheless. The CX-5’s cabin alone has a enough range of areas to retail store one’s junk, whether it’s the cellular phone-or-mask-sized tray beneath the local climate controls or the deep centre armrest cubby with its detachable shelf. Having said that, cargo place suffers as opposed to the competitiveness at 30.9 cubic feet at the rear of the 2nd-row seats, the CX-5 falls considerably at the rear of the Honda CR-V (about 38 cubic feet), Toyota RAV4 (about 37) and Nissan Rogue (about 36). You may have to either get resourceful with your excursion packing or determine out which kid receives remaining at dwelling.

Satisfying on the street

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 will come with 1 of two engines. Reduce trims get a 2.5-liter, normally aspirated I4 that produces 187 horsepower, but the top rated-tier Signature instance in advance of me picks up some big hustle with a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 that bumps output to a meaty 250 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque. (Individuals quantities are for high quality fuel working with the low-priced things drops those specs to 227 and 310, respectively.) Whether or not I’m working with the torque to quickly move involving stoplights all over city or wringing the four-pot out at larger revs to pass autos on the freeway, at no issue am I remaining seeking for a lot more motive power. Both of those engines use a 6-speed computerized that may possibly really feel a little at the rear of the situations on equipment rely, but in exercise it’s a smooth-shifting transmission that will hardly ever command focus.

Throwing some fun characteristics into a mass-industry vehicle’s driving dynamics from time to time needs a trade-off in day-to-day livability, but not here. The 2021 CX-5’s static dampers do an impressive balancing act, soaking up a greater part of gross roads and returning little in the way of jostling or unpleasant movement. But, at the similar time, getting into a corner more rapidly than my passengers may possibly favor won’t consequence in a floaty or discombobulated feeling. The steering is direct but not so tight that tiny movements really feel like more substantial types, and both equally pedals are useless simple to modulate for smoothness. Like its styling, I feel the way the CX-5 drives will charm to a wide swath of the obtaining public.

Oh, never stress, there is a draw back tucked away in here. Sadly, it’s fuel economic system. With all-wheel drive and the peppier engine selection, the 2021 CX-5 is EPA-rated at just 22 miles for each gallon city and 27 mpg freeway. I was equipped to finest those figures by a couple, thoughts you, but the feds’ estimates are bleak in the encounter of Mazda’s rivals. For context, a likewise outfitted Honda CR-V is rated at 27 mpg city and 32 mpg freeway, with the RAV4 pulling ahead of the Honda by 1 mpg freeway. Then once again, that’s the price tag you fork out for getting 310 lb-ft of torque, which the other autos pointed out here definitely do not.

The CX-5’s interior presents a number of “high quality” automakers a run for their cash.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Slick regular tech

Though quite a few of Mazda’s rivals are content material to give you a little toddler monitor except you toss down a lot more cash for a larger trim or an options deal, the 2021 CX-5 presents every one consumer a ten.3-inch infotainment show mounted significant on the dashboard, which runs the sleekest, latest model of the Mazda Link program. Like the rest of the interior, this monitor seems to be fairly darn fancy, with a regular dark-mode motif that is light on distracting eye candy. It really is responsive, and Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are now both equally regular, but purchasers utilised to touchscreens may well not enjoy the actuality that the sole techniques of manipulation are a rotary dial on the centre console and voice commands by way of a steering wheel button. When it will come time to charge, there are two USB ports for each individual row, despite the fact that the foundation CX-5 Sport only helps make do with plugs up entrance.

Which is not the only monitor tucked away in the CX-5, nevertheless. Grand Touring and larger trims also acquire a seven-inch Lcd in the gauge cluster that contains the speedometer and can show a little bit of added facts on either facet it’s a little light on attributes, but it receives the position accomplished without having overpowering the driver. You can find also a head-up show on Grand Touring Reserve and Signature variants, which projects pertinent facts on the windshield fairly than the dinky pop-up plastic that Mazda utilised to count on.

Like most every other automaker, Mazda’s thrown in a range of lively and passive safety methods no matter of trim. Each 2021 CX-5 receives computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise handle, lane-preserving assist and blind-location monitoring. The suggestion-top rated Signature product provides to that with a surround-watch observe, website traffic indication recognition and reverse computerized emergency braking.

In addition to the typical pages for audio and navigation, you can monitor your fuel economic system… despite the fact that offered its performance, probably you never want to do that.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Down to brass tacks

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is inexpensive, with the Sport FWD product starting up at $26,370, together with $1,one hundred for location. AWD is a $1,four hundred selection for any trim besides Grand Touring Reserve and Signature, wherever it’s regular. Pricing tops out with my tester’s Signature trim, which will set you back $38,505 — a truthful chunk of improve, sure, but nonetheless in just the realm of affordability.

That puts the CX-5 in line with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue, all of which are viable rivals. Having said that, the CX-5’s biggest rivals are fairly milquetoast, giving little in the way of an attention-grabbing drive. The Mazda may possibly be a little minimal on cargo place as opposed to the rest, but the tradeoff is a compact crossover that’s engineered with a lot more than rote transportation in thoughts.

Maria J. Danford

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