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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Compact SUVs are a hot commodity, providing families with fuel conservation, decent space, and if you go with the Mazda CX-5, a big splash of performance thanks to SKYACTIV engine technology. The CX-5 is also quite generous when it comes to interior comforts, making this an all-around excellent purchase.

I drove a 2016 Mazda CX-5 with the upgraded 184-horsepower SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. Three trims are available – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – with my fully loaded Grand Touring trim featuring the following standard equipment: leather-trimmed sport seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; eight-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; dual zone climate control; navigation with a new 7-inch touchscreen and rearview camera; push-button start; upgraded Bose audio system; auxiliary input jack and USB port; Bluetooth connectivity; nineteen-inch wheels; moonroof; fog lamps; and dual stainless steel exhaust. Vehicle price as described without options came to $29,870.

For 2016, the Mazda CX-5 gets some minor exterior tweaks and improved cabin materials; a mid-year update adds that standard rearview camera and standard navigation – a nice addition – to the Touring and Grand Touring trims. Comparable vehicles in this segment include the all-new Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (as well as steady favorites like the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage). If performance for this class is an interest, I’d pit the CX-5 against the Volkswagen Tiguan.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: A jump from the previous 5.8-inch screen to the 7-inch was a strong move, as I sited in last year’s model the angle and screen size were awkward to view. The handsome interior is adorned in dark colors with contrast stitching set off by brushed chrome accents – no low quality here. You get a load of safety technology on the Grand Touring including Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, and a rearview camera. My options were modest and included a $1,165 Grand Touring Tech Package (LED head, tail, and fog lights) and a $1,500 Grand Touring ActivSense System (Lane Departure Warning, Smart Brake Support).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2016 Mazda CX-5 earned scores of “Good” in all crash test areas with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, five-passenger three-point safety belts, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, and an advanced airbag system that includes side-impact bags. An interesting addition, the Smart City Brake Support uses a laser sensor mounted high on the inside of the front windshield that detects an obstruction, and will reduce the brake rotor travel to allow for more immediate braking should the system calculate there is a risk of a collision.

Cost Issues: The base Mazda CX-5 Sport trim begins at $21,795. The base 2016 Honda HR-V starts at $19,215 with a recent top-of-the-line EX-L with Navigation reaching $24,690. Just to round out prices, the base prices from the following 2016 models are: Kia Sportage at $21,750; the Nissan Rogue at $22,790; and the Toyota RAV4 at $23,680.

Activity & Performance Ability: Definable road personality makes the Mazda CX-5 stand out, which I’d described as surprisingly receptive to acceleration demands for its engine size paired to spot-on braking. Overall this vehicle possesses a certain zest I encourage you to test. The fuel economy on the Honda HR-V might turn your head, as a 1.8-liter engine option gets 28-city and 35-highway for a combined 29 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive, but understand performance does suffer under this smaller powertrain configuration.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy estimates for the larger 2.5-liter with all-wheel drive are 24 miles-per gallon city and 30 highway for a combined 26 miles-per-gallon, which is very competitive for this class.

What makes the 2016 CX-5 a unique star among shining masses is Mazda’s ability to thinks outside the box with revolutionary ideas in performance and safety. This small crossover scores high in just about every category worth worrying about – so go ahead, you won’t regret the purchase

©2016 Katrina Ramser