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2016.5 Mazda CX-5 Road Test and Review By Larry Nutson

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

2016.5 Mazda CX-5
Mid-year update

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

When I look around at today’s automotive landscape I occasionally pause and reflect back on my younger years and our family cars. We were a one-car household until I was about twelve. We then moved to a house in a slightly more suburban setting and the need for a second car arose.

My dad used the family car throughout the week in his business. Mom then needed wheels since the grocery store and supermarket were no longer within walking distance. And those household vehicles were indeed “cars” - one a 2-door sedan and the other a four-door sedan.

I also remember the annual family summer vacation with the task of completing the trunk loading puzzle. Picture in your mind a family of five - mom, dad and we three kids. Then there were a number of suitcases, fishing rods and tackle box, baseball bats, balls and gloves, a cooler, pre-purchased groceries, swim gear, some toys, dolls and puzzles for that rainy day, and more. Dad packed the family sedan’s trunk to the limit very skillfully.

Fast forward to today and the convenience of an SUV. It’s no wonder 60 percent of new vehicle sales each month are in the light truck segment. I’m beyond the need for an SUV in my household fleet, although I’ve had a number. However my two millennial age daughters each have one in their families. It couldn’t be any easier to pop open that big rear liftgate, the rear hatch if you will, and load up for nearly any weekend road trip or vacation.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

The convenience of SUVs, whether it be the large, 3-row, 7-seaters or the midsize and compact 5-seater crossovers, has changed the world of household vehicles. SUVs certainly are great helpers in living an active lifestyle.

The award-winning 5-passenger Mazda CX-5 was launched into the growing global crossover SUV market in February 2012 as a new core model for the Mazda brand. I drove the first 2013 CX-5, as well as the improved 2014 model with the new 184 HP 2.5-L engine and reported on the refreshed 2016 CX-5 in Spring last year.

New for the mid-model year 2016.5, a backup camera is now standard on all trim levels equipped with Mazda’s SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. CX-5 Touring models gain standard navigation and heated front seats. CX-5 Grand Touring models also add navigation as standard equipment.

On the outside the 2016 CX-5 has a new, bolder grille and a new fog light surround design, available LED headlights for Touring and Grand Touring models, new design 19-inch aluminum wheels, and new Sonic Silver and Titanium Flash colors.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

On the inside, where we see the biggest change and improvement, is an upgraded center console, instrument panel 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.

There’s been quality upgrades with improved surface textures and overall more tasteful designs. 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.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

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. On varying road surfaces the comfort and interior noise level is quite satisfying.

The CX-5 can be equipped, depending on model, with driver-assistance safety features that work very well to help reduce the stress of driving and minimize accidental collisions. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control can be had. Mazda also offers forward emergency braking in their Smart City Brake Support and Smart Brake Support.

All of these semi-autonomous, driver-assistance safety features are very much worth consideration. Adaptive cruise control is a nice-to-have on a long highway road trip. All you do is steer. Smart City Brake Support will slow the CX-5 and bring it to a stop if you don’t react to an impending collision.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5

The National Safety Council and the University of Iowa have teamed up to provide an online, mobile- and tablet-friendly resource to help educate consumers. The website’s homepage lists the 28 technology and safety features present on vehicles today. This webpage is a great resource to consult when you are car shopping. You might say to yourself I don’t need that or be unwilling to spend the extra money. Consider that one collision will probably cost you inconvenience, car repair bills, paying your insurance deductible, and maybe an increase in insurance rates. Oh, did I mention injury. It’s all about reducing accidents to prevent injury or even death.

The 2016.5 CX-5 is available in three trim levels – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – each in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (see quick-links to all trim levels and options below). The only manual transmission model is the front-wheel drive Sport trim equipped with the 155HP 2.0-L engine. All the other models feature the 184HP 2.5-L engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5  (select to view enlarged photo)

EPA test-cycle 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 2 mpg less at 33 highway mpg. The AWD 2.5L automatic models are EPA test-cycle rated at 26 mpg combined, with 24 city mpg and 30 highway mpg.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5 pricing starts at $21,795 for the Sport model with manual transmission. The top of the line Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD is priced starting at $29,870.

My media-loan CX-5 was 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 Grand Touring Technology Package ($1,155) includes 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.

Detailed information and specs on the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 model line can be found at You can compare the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 to all other compact SUVs right here using The Auto Channel's Mazda Research and Buyers Guide (1997-Present Model Years) .

Mazda says, “Driving Matters.” It indeed will for a long time to come, and you will be the driver. Self-driving cars that the average consumer can buy are ten years away or more.

Coming back to my younger years, take note that those cars didn’t have much in the way of safety features. No seat belts, no air bags, no ABS, no stability control. And now today we have technology that will bring a vehicle to a stop if for some reason you are distracted and fail to brake as needed. Amazing!

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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