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2021 Mazda CX-5 Performance Review


Performance: 8.5

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 has athletic handling and good fuel economy. The base engine delivers solid acceleration, and the optional turbocharged variant is even quicker, especially at higher speeds.

  • "It’s totally fun to drive. And when you order the turbocharged engine, this Mazda SUV really scoots. Despite its fairly taut suspension and sportier handling manners than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a pleasant everyday driver." -- Autotrader
  • "Did you really think all mainstream compact-crossover SUVs were boring to drive? If so, chances are you haven’t driven a Mazda CX-5. This compact Mazda crossover SUV, one step larger than the CX-30, is nimble and precise, able to change direction with grace thanks in part to a standard sophisticated torque-vectoring system." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The CX-5 is delightfully athletic and equally refined. While the standard four-cylinder engine lacks the punch of the available turbo-four, both pair with a highly proficient automatic transmission and are more fuel efficient than their EPA ratings suggest." -- Car and Driver

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic

With the base engine, the Mazda CX-5 has peppy acceleration from a stop, and it generally has no problem getting up to higher speeds. However, some critics remark that it can feel a little underpowered. The optional turbocharged engine is much more potent. The automatic transmission is smooth and refined.

  • "The output of the base 2.5-liter engine is moderate by modern standards, but it’s appropriate for the CX-5’s mission. It makes the CX-5 feel sprightly, aided by a conventional 6-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly when you want it to. Better performance, naturally, comes with the turbo 2.5." -- Autotrader
  • "The CX-5 … feels quicker than it actually is. It's at higher speeds, such as when trying to pass or merge onto the freeway, that it feels underpowered. The 250-hp turbocharged version we tested provided much quicker acceleration. Both engines pair with a snappy six-speed automatic transmission." -- Car and Driver
  • "The CX-5’s naturally aspirated 187-horsepower engine is entirely adequate, propelling this Mazda up to freeway speeds without strain. While putting it in Sport mode sharpens its responses, the turbocharged CX-5, with 250 horsepower (on 93-octane fuel), feels downright quick." -- Kelley Blue Book

MPG Estimates

The 2021 CX-5 gets good fuel economy for a compact SUV.

  • Four-cylinder, FWD: 25/31 mpg city/highway
  • Four-cylinder, AWD: 24/30 mpg
  • Turbo-four, FWD: 23/28 mpg
  • Turbo-four, AWD: 22/27 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Mazda CX-5 has deft handling, and models with all-wheel drive offer the best road grip. Ride quality is comfortable, even if it is stiffer than some class rivals.

  • "The CX-5 remains one of the best-handling crossovers. … AWD models benefit from a torque vectoring system that sends power to the outside rear wheel during cornering, for sharpened steering response." -- Autotrader
  • "Pavement imperfections are isolated, road noise is minimal, and the damping is neither stiff nor floaty. At the same time, the Mazda comes alive on curvy roads. The electrically assisted steering provides satisfying responses." -- Car and Driver
  • "While the ride quality lacks the suppleness of, say, a Honda CR-V, the CX-5’s suspension, steering, brakes, and standard G-Vectoring Control Plus conspire to make this Mazda especially rewarding to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
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2021 Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $25,270 - $37,405

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