The charismatic CX-5 crossover combines unrivaled driving enjoyment and rich-looking style, inside and out. Like its mid-size sibling, the 10Best-winning Mazda CX-9, the compact CX-5 has a classy interior and a distinctly handsome Mazda face. A fuel-efficient inline-four transmits 187 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive is optional. Although not the most practical or feature-laden compact crossover, the CX-5 proves how much fun one can be to drive. Its precise steering and exceptional chassis provide levels of mechanical refinement and driving joy that are often reserved for higher-end vehicles. All in all, the CX-5 looks and feels like an upscale choice at a bargain price. Such a deal.

What’s New for 2017?

Although the CX-5 appears all new for 2017, it’s actually a heavily revised version of the previous-generation model. Aside from the gorgeous new sheetmetal and sharply redesigned interior, it rides on a similar platform and uses the familiar Mazda 2.5-liter inline-four. It’s slightly longer and wider and has a lower center of gravity for better handling and further driving fun—but its lower roofline and other interior revisions have reduced cargo volume. Mazda aims to offset this loss with a rear seat that now reclines, is cooled by rear climate-control vents, and is warmed by optional seat heaters. A 4.6-inch color display in the gauge cluster and an available head-up display are new, too.

Trims and Options We’d Choose

The starting point of both the CX-5 and 10Best-winning Honda CR-V lineups is $24,985. Both have bang-for-your-buck value, but Mazda’s top trim (the Grand Touring, from $30,335) is several thousand dollars less than Honda’s. We like the mid-level CX-5 Touring, which begins at $26,855; all-wheel drive costs $1300 extra on all models. Standard equipment includes:

• Heated front seats with a power-adjustable driver’s seat
• Blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
• Dual-zone climate control
• Passive entry system

The i-Activsense package ($625) includes safety tech such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. The Preferred Equipment package ($780) adds navigation, a power sunroof and liftgate, a Bose surround-sound audio system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, but Mazda prevents ordering both packages on the same car. Choosing the latter brought our total to $27,635—exactly the same price as the 2017 CR-V EX we spec’d out for its In-Depth Review. Deciding between the two will likely come down to whether you prefer the CX-5’s more enjoyable driving dynamics or the CR-V’s premier practicality.

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