$19,265 - $25,407

2018 Mazda CX-5 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 9.0

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is one of the best performers in the class. It has a composed ride and class-leading agility, making it incredibly fun to drive. The engine isn't overly powerful, but it gets the job done. Fuel economy is good as well.

  • "In the past generation's tests, we raved about the CX-5's class-leading confident handling, intuitive driveline response, and competitive acceleration. To be clear, the 2017 version is even better." -- Motor Trend (2017)
  • "… much of the driving experience can't be matched by a competitor. The previous CX-5 was arguably the driver's choice in the segment and version 2.0 sends the ball further downfield." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "Before the updates, the CX-5 was the best-driving vehicle in the compact SUV class, and that remains true. It stays incredibly flat in corners, the transmission is almost telepathically responsive, and the steering feel and weight are spot-on." -- Cars.com (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The CX-5 features a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Power and acceleration are adequate for most driving situations, but the engine isn’t as potent as some of the turbocharged four-cylinders you’ll find in rival SUVs.

Gas mileage is a strong suit of the CX-5. It earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those estimates are better than those of many competitors.

  • Yet, as dynamically enjoyable as the CX-5 remains, it still isn't quick. It again makes do with a merely adequate naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four, even as many competitors have adopted smaller yet more powerful turbocharged engines." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • At sea level, the CX-5 proved sprightly and had no trouble accelerating onto fast-moving freeways, especially after activating the Sport driving mode. At elevation, the engine felt winded when asked for maximum acceleration or passing power, almost begging for a turbocharger to help it cope with the thinner atmosphere." -- New York Daily News (2017)
  • "The throttle is also absolutely spot-on. … The delay between what your foot does and how the engine reacts is quite literally impossible to detect by humans, … and since the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder is au naturel, it never has to deal with the sort of lag inherent to the turbocharged engines found in many competitors." -- Autoblog (2017)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard in the CX-5, and all-wheel drive is optional. Quite simply, this is one of the most agile and fun-to-drive SUVs in the class, and most rivals aren’t anywhere close. The steering is sharp, and you’ll eagerly await winding stretches of road. The CX-5 has a stable ride, but it is a bit firmer than some competitors.

  • "If you're the type of driver who prefers twisting back roads to vast expanses of freeway, the CX-5 is the SUV you'll want. Feedback from the taut steering never feels too heavy or artificial, and the CX-5's Sport mode helps deliver better response from the engine. The ride is firm, but not harsh, something to keep in mind if you prefer the softer ride of the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. Updates last year helped the suspension better absorb road imperfections without diminishing ride quality or comfort." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Find a canyon road with plenty of curves and the Mazda will keep the smiles coming. The redesigned CX-5 still delivers the same rewarding experience as the old one with sharp steering response and agile handling. … It's clear Mazda's engineers spent days driving on roads just like these." -- Autoweek (2017)
  • "What remains above the segment standard is the way the CX-5 moves down the road. … Where many other crossovers lean and flop, the Mazda carves a cleaner path with well-controlled body movements and genuinely sprightly handling. Keen to smooth out a ride that was previously on the firm side, Mazda says it now allows softer initial bump and body-roll compliance from the front dampers by reducing the units' friction. It also fits hydraulic bushings to the front lower suspension arms. Both tweaks introduce a newfound suppleness to the CX-5's ride quality, with the wheels cycling quickly over or into lumps and cracks in the road without tossing the body around." -- Car and Driver (2017)

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