ur first Four Seasons foray in 2013 with the original CX-5 was overall a positive experience. Aside from a head-on collision with a deer, we encountered no real issues with the vehicle and lauded Mazda’s initial entry into the hot midsize crossover segment as a revelation in terms of driving enjoyment. But while the CX-5 exceeded our expectations in areas like chassis tuning, it proved somewhat lacking in others, including engine output, cabin noise, and interior design.
So when Mazda rolled out the second-generation version of what has become its top-selling model, we were curious to discover how far it had come in addressing our initial concerns. And we can think of no better way to find out than with 12 months of testing as part of our Four Seasons fleet.
The first CX-5 was already a looker, and Mazda has further amped up its compact crossover with fresh lines that lend it an even more attractive silhouette, especially in a sea of either too-bland or too-busy alternatives. Draped in Mazda’s new Soul Red Crystal Metallic hue ($595), from a few feet away the CX-5 appears as if it’s fresh out of Mazda’s paint booth. The dazzling exterior was originally formulated for the RX-Vision Concept, according to the automaker, and initially required 10 steps and about $50,000 to complete. Mazda’s designers and engineers loved the effect so much they devised a way to shorten the process to only three steps, automate it, and greatly reduce the cost. We’re very glad they did.
CX-5 chief designer Shinichi Isayama says his philosophy is to create a “legacy of beautiful things” and not something that ages poorly or — worse yet — something melts into the background and takes no risks. “I hope to bring richer color to people’s lives and the world around them with beautiful designs and make them more appealing,” Isayama says. From our perspective, mission accomplished — at least when it comes to the crossover’s curb appeal.
We’ve found plenty to like about the CX-5’s interior as well, which is refreshingly tasteful and usefully spacious. After his first trip behind the wheel of our latest Four Seasons addition, online editor Ed Tahaney says, “I’d rather drive a MX-5, but the CX-5 offers Zoom-Zoom with a lot more room room.”
Editor-in-chief Mike Floyd’s early impressions of the CX-5’s interior were positive. “The cabin itself feels airy with good sight lines and appears to be well-screwed together,” he says, “the back seats have ample room for rear passengers, and cargo room is more than acceptable. In other words, it meets or exceeds the needs of buyers in this segment.”
With the rear seats up, the 2017 CX-5 features 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which isn’t quite as voluminous as the Honda CR-V’s 39.2 cubic feet, but with the seats folded down, that number increases to 59.6 cubic feet (plenty, we discovered, for loading five very large rugs into the rear with room to spare). We’ll have to see what else fits in the rear hatch over the course of the next few months, but we can almost guarantee it’ll include gear for senior editor Kirill Ougarov’s surfing addiction.
One area we’ll have to keep an eye on is the CX-5’s Parchment white leather interior. Currently, our office has 6.75 dogs. (One recently had a leg removed due to cancer. He’s doing great, though.) Our 6.75 often muddy, hop-into-a-bog-and-roll-around canines all love taking trips with us on hikes or to the local grocery store. And while we wouldn’t trade our pooches for the world, we’re nervous what they’re going to do to what started as a pristine interior. Time will tell if the seats stay white after a year of abuse from two- and four-legged animals, but we’ve already begun scrolling through Amazon’s pet section for rear seat covers and an industrial vacuum.
When choosing our CX-5, we started off with the Grand Touring model, which even as the most expensive of the CX-5’s trims starts at a reasonable $31,635 — slightly less than either a fully loaded Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. The Grand Touring comes with a host of standard features, including adaptive cruise control, LED headlights and fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beams, a Bose10-speaker stereo, Mazda’s navigation and infotainment center with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, and a host of warranties (three-year/36,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain Limited Warranty, and a three-year/36,000-mile 24/7 roadside assistance program) designed to cover most any eventuality should we need to make dealer visits.
From there, we selected the aforementioned Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, a rear bumper guard ($125), a retractable cargo cover ($250), and Mazda’s Premium package ($1,830) which bundles a two-position memory driver seat, six-way adjustable power passenger seat, heated rear seats and steering wheel, an active head-up display, and a windshield wiper de-icer for those long and frigid nights it will spend in Detroit under the watchful eye of road test editor Eric Weiner and Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa. The price our Four Seasons Mazda CX-5 totaled $34,435. Again, that’s not bad when you consider the cost of its competitors.
At the time of initial orders, one engine option was available across the CX-5 lineup here in the U.S.: Mazda’s Skyactiv-G, naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. A 2.2-liter diesel (173 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque), however, is coming soon. The naturally aspirated four-cylinder generates 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft, which is up 3 hp from the last generation. (Torque remains the same.) It returns a respectable 23/29 mpg city/highway for our all-wheel drive Grand Touring model, which weighs in at 3,655 pounds. That’s good for a 0 to 60 mph time of 8.6 seconds — a big step up from the 9.6-second figure we recorded in our previous 2013 CX-5 Four Seasons tester.
Mazda traditionally hasn’t been a brand that packs a massive punch in the horsepower department, and not surprisingly there have been some questions about the CX-5’s output. “The 2.5-liter thumper has enough power, but I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off with a low-boost variant of the 2.5 turbo from the CX-9 as an optional mill,” says daily news editor Conner Golden.
“Could it use more power?” Floyd asks. “Of course, but then you start to sacrifice mpg, and that’s a bad idea from a selling point perspective.”
As soon as we took delivery, yours truly spirited the CX-5 away on an epic, 4,000-plus mile road trip to my parents’ home in Chicago. Our journey took us through the hellishly hot Mojave that saw 120-degree temperatures, then a drop to 35 degrees, some snow, and 15,000 feet of total elevation changes while traversing the Colorado Rockies. The crossover then took a swim through some thick Midwest humidity. It was a trial-by-fire first trek, and through it all the CX-5 never missed a beat and is likely to become one of our fleet’s workhorses.
While it shares garage space with our snazzy Four Seasons Jaguar F-Pace, the 2017 CX-5 had us at hello with its refined styling and generous list of features. And although they play in different segments, the Jag now has a little friendly competition on its hands. It remains to be seen what a full 12 months in our care will bring and if the CX-5 can steal our driving-obsessed hearts again. So far, it’s off to a solid start.
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