I've been a fan of the Mazda CX-5 since its debut in 2012 (I had the good fortune of being among the media asked to one of the initial ride-and-drive events), and my recent opportunity to give the 2015-MY model a test was like visiting with an old friend.
The Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring handled beautifully, responsive and easy-to-drive. For a fleet manager and driver, one of the advantages that the compact SUV brings to the table is its car-like handling paired with the cargo capabilities implicit in this vehicle class, meaning that it requires little getting used to by drivers not accustomed to driving an SUV.
Equipped with the SkyActiv 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing that produces 184 hp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque, the CX-5 Grand Touring has good power and acceleration. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway for the FWD model and 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway for the AWD model. In real-world conditions on both city and highway conditions, I was achieving about 22+ mpg per trip (according to the CX-5's own instruments), in relatively heavy stop-and-go Los Angeles traffic. Added to the fuel economy, the CX-5 can be powered by 87 octane gasoline, keeping TCO that much lower.
For the 2015-MY, the CX-5 is loaded with a number of safety features, including air bags, stability control, and traction control. As with its sibling, the Mazda3, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, the CX-5 features blind spot monitoring and a back-up camera — both of which are great safety tools without being intrusive (and are among my favorite features on the Mazda lineup).
The cabin is comfortable, and the controls are intuitive and easy to use. The glove box and center storage area are roomy and can hold sales or meeting materials and small electronics easily. The seating, which I put to the test during my daily commute, is also comfortable. It makes those days stuck in traffic a little more tolerable.
If the safety systems and good fuel mileage are at the top of my CX-5 favorite features list, the cargo storage is probably number three. The cargo space has a nice interior shape, designed specifically for luggage or other uniform shaped materials.
The CX-5's stability means little bouncing around of cargo, which is a nice bonus whether the driver is transporting printed materials or a fragile item to a sales or team meeting. That being said, I would have liked the cargo area to have a cover or shelf of some sort for added security.
The cargo area revealed one surprise for me — a spare tire. While less-than-common in many vehicles today, it offers a nice convenience particularly for sales or other drivers who would be taking the CX-5 on longer routes who might have a flat on a less-than-traveled roadway.