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2016 Mazda CX-5 Windy City Review By Larry Nutson

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2016 Mazda CX-5
Keeping One Step Ahead

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Trucks are outselling cars here in the U.S. SUVs are in the truck category and the Mazda CX-5 small crossover SUV has been doing its part to contribute to the big sales numbers.

Mazda Motor Corporation recently announced that cumulative production of the Mazda CX-5 surpassed one million units at the end of April 2015. Taking only three years and five months since production commenced in November 2011, the CX-5 is the second fastest Mazda model to reach the milestone one-million-unit mark, following the Mazda3.

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Production of the CX-5, which was the first of Mazda's new-generation models that feature SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY and KODO-Soul of Motion, began at Ujina Plant in Hiroshima, but has since been expanded to include manufacture at Changan Mazda Automobile in China and locally assembly at Mazda Sollers Manufacturing in Russia, Mazda Malaysia in Malaysia and Vina Mazda Automobile Manufacturing in Vietnam.

Mazda CX-5 was launched into the growing global crossover SUV market in February 2012 as a new core model for the Mazda brand. It has since won more than 60 different awards around the world, including the prestigious Car of the Year Japan in 2012-2013. The CX-5 has grown into a key model in Mazda's global car lineup and was the top-selling SUV in Japan in 2012 and 2013.

I’ve driven and reported on the first 2013 CX-5, the improved 2014 model with the new 184 HP 2.5-L engine and now Mazda has again refreshed the CX-5 for 2016.

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My 2016 Mazda CX-5 media loaner was a Grand Touring AWD model in a not-to-be-missed Parchment Red. My week of drive-time included a run from Chicago to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for a few days and then back. So I had plenty of miles to experience what is new.

Changes for 2016 on the outside are a new, bolder grille and new foglight surround design, available LED headlights for Touring and Grand Touring models, 19-inch aluminum wheels with a new design, and new Sonic Silver and Titanium Flash colors.

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On the inside, where we see the biggest change and improvement, is an upgraded center console, dashboard and armrest design, added electronic parking brake…instead of the hand-pull design, addition of MAZDA CONNECT Infotainment System with larger seven-inch full color touchscreen display and multi-function commander control and standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio. The touchscreen display is along the same horizontal sight line as the instrument display for easy viewing without needing to move you head.

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There is certainly a higher level of quality, improved surface textures and overall improved taste. The new Parchment leather on my test car was much to my liking as I do prefer a lighter interior color. The electronic parking brake that we see on so many vehicles today really opens up the space for more customer friendly features. The old mechanical design took up a lot of room to package it in to the center console. Storage space with increased capacity including an open space in front of the shift knob, floor console cup holders and storage for small items and a console box are now added to the CX-5.

CX-5 was the first Mazda to use SKYACTIV technology for its engine, transmission, body and chassis. The 2016 CX-5 features improvements to the suspension system, NVH performance and seat performance. The SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission has a new sport mode that modifies the shift points. Overall, the CX-5 has a feeling of high quality driving. It’s very taught, void of shakes and rumbles, and is relatively quiet on the interior. My long highway drive exposed me to different road surfaces and on each the comfort and interior noise level was quite satisfying.

The powertrain lineup for the refreshed, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger CX-5 includes the 155HP 2.0-liter and 184 HP 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G direct injection gasoline engines and the six-speed automatic SKYACTIV-DRIVE and six-speed manual SKYACTIV-MT transmissions. All-wheel-drive is an available option.

The refreshed 2016 CX-5 is available in three trim levels – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The only manual transmission model is the front-wheel drive Sport trim equipped with the 2.0-L engine. All the other models feature the 2.5-L engine and automatic transmission.

EPA test fuel economy ratings are fairly close between the different models with the best on the manual transmission FWD 2.0L rated at 29 mpg combined, with 26 city mpg and 35 highway mpg. The FWD 2.5L automatic has the same combined and city rating, but is 2mpg less at 33 highway mpg.

The AWD 2.5L automatic models are EPA test rated at 26 mpg combined, with 24 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. In my long highway drive I got 27 to 28 mpg while cruising at prevailing open-highway speeds with good traffic flow.

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The 2016 Mazda CX-5 pricing starts at $21,795 for the Sport with manual transmission. The top of the line Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD that I drove is priced starting at $29,470. My loaner was also equipped with the new i-ACTIVSENSE package, exclusive to the Grand Touring model, and priced at $1,500. It includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Close Proximity Warning, Smart Brake Support with Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and High Beam Control.

The i-ACTIVSENSE package requires the Grand Touring Technology Package ($1,505), which includes navigation, Smart City Brake Support, LED headlights with auto leveling, Pivoting Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED foglights, LED Signature Daytime Running Lights, LED Combination Taillights and auto dimming mirror with Homelink.

More detailed information and specs on the complete 2016 Mazda CX-5 model line is only a mouse click away at If you want to compare the Mazda CX-5 to other compact SUVs you can do that right here on

As Mazda says, “Driving Matters.” The CX-5 has proven itself in the U.S. Market has a viable contender in the compact SUV market. The CX-5 offers a dynamic driving experience, a high level of comfort and quality and stands out from the crowd in a very crowded market segment.

© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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