Photo by Eric Gandarilla.
Since its release, back in 2012, the Mazda CX-5 has been a runaway success for the company. In short order, it became the company’s second-fastest selling vehicle to reach 1 million units sold.
Results like this might imply that Mazda would be wary of straying too far from a recipe that has brought on this level of success. But, a 2017 refresh that brings aesthetic changes and performance enhancements show Mazda isn't looking to be complacent. Mazda tells us it has made 698 improvements to the second-generation CX-5.
To give us a chance to test and see these improvements firsthand, Mazda invited Automotive Fleet, and other automotive media outlets, to a ride-and-drive event in San Diego in early March.
The event featured two different driving routes to demonstrate how the 2017 CX-5 handled. One route, a 2.5-hour excursion through bordering towns and mountain roads was set up to show how the crossover performs in more demanding situations. The other, a 10-minute-long roundabout through the heart of the city and a nearby highway, showed off how the vehicle performs in a city setting.
Mazda vehicles are known for providing excellent handling and performance relative to their segments, and the 2017 CX-5 is no exception. During the city portion, the vehicle was quick to respond. A light turned green, my foot hit pedal and the compact SUV was quick to move. Through the 2.5-hour excursion, the ride was smooth — the crossover took inclines, declines, twists and turns with ease. On straight paths or when quickly merging onto highways, the car’s peppy acceleration really shined.
One conclusion to come out of a full day of driving the 2017 CX-5 through varying terrains is that the crossover definitely deserves consideration from fleets looking to outfit some of their drivers with a vehicle that’s fun to drive, full of amenities ideal for transporting clients, and has a bevy of safety-related options available.
In the interior lies an elevated 7-inch full-color infotainment system that connects to devices via Bluetooth. If, like us at the event, you’re in a Grand Touring Premium Package trim, you’ll find a head-up display that projects relevant driving information meant to reduce the time a driver's eyes move from the road.
Instead of having to look down to see how fast the vehicle’s moving, the speed is projected in front of the driver on the windshield. Using cameras equipped on the vehicle, the projection will also show whether the driver is straying from his or her lane, show the appropriate speed limit, and project a small stop sign when the cameras detect an oncoming stop sign.
Photo by Eric Gandarilla.
Safety-wise, all trims come with a standard back-up camera. An optional i-ActivSense safety suite includes adaptive cruise control that maintains the vehicle’s speed relative to the car in front of it from speeds up to 90 mph all the way down to stop-and-go speeds. Other safety technologies include lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and smart brake assist, which will apply brakes when the vehicle sense the possibility of a collision.
One of the aspects of the car that Mazda really honed in on this year is the sound level inside the CX-5. By using a different kind of glass for its windows and carpeting the entirety of the trunk to reduce sound-reflecting materials in the car, Mazda paid extra attention to provide a quieter ride.
And, it paid off. On the 2.5-hour excursion through gravely, wet, sandy and smooth roads on a mountain path, the changing road conditions had negligible effect on the noise level within the car.
One new enhancement brought to the vehicle for the first time is G-Vectoring Control. This software, which comes standard on all trims, uses engine timing to control chassis dynamics, which according to Mazda, translates to smoother, more accurate steering inputs.
This enhancement, Mazda added, also helps reduce the amount of movement that occupants feel when making those wider turns through winding roads. The benefits of this enhancement were most felt during the long drive through winding roads of the 2.5-hour excursion, where the vehicle took twists and turns with ease.
The front-wheel-drive CX-5 comes in three trims including Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, with optional equipment packages available for the Touring and Grand Touring trims and optional all-wheel drive for all trims. The base model retails for $24,045 with standard front-wheel drive or $25,345 with all-wheel drive, while the high-end package tops out at $32,525 with AWD and Grand Touring Premium Package.
The FWD models achieve a fuel economy rating of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway for a combined 27 mpg. The AWD models achieve 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highways for a combined 26 mpg.
With its seats upright, the 2017 CX-5 offers 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space, and with the second row folded down, storage volume grows to 59.6 cubic feet. All models come standard with a SkyActiv-G 2.5 engine and six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission, and a SkyActiv-D 2.2-liter engine diesel option is slated for later this year. The diesel engine, according to Mazda, promises high torque, quick response, and hybrid-like fuel efficiency.