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2016.5 Mazda CX-5 Review By Larry Nutson

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2016.5 Mazda CX-5 Plus, a Diesel in the future

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

I make the drive from my Chicago home to Southeast Michigan multiple times each year. Immediate as well as extended family living on the other side of the Great Lakes being the main reason.

An early January trip however had me making the drive to attend the media previews at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. My conveyance for this road trip would be the 2016.5 (Yes, that’s twenty sixteen and a half) Mazda CX-5 compact SUV.

I was pleased to be behind the wheel of the CX-5 as it provided plenty of comfort, all-wheel-drive in case winter reared its head, satellite radio to give me a wide choice of entertainment, as well as decent fuel consumption.

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My road trips in general are focused on getting where I am going as quickly and, of course, as safely as possible. I try to minimize stops. When stops are needed I try to combine multiple tasks such as restroom relief, refuel me, refuel the car.

In the past I had the practice of grabbing food on the go and eating while driving. Not anymore. Although coffee or water and a snack are still enjoyed while putting on the miles.

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This drive with the CX-5 coincidentally lent itself well to compare to a trip on this same route that I drove back in November at Thanksgiving time with my wife. Back then we drove a 2017 Mazda CX-3, the smaller SUV offering from Mazda. We were in a Grand Touring trim with all-wheel-drive that has a base price of $26,240. You can read my thoughts on the CX-3 right here, just click. here A point of comparison and something to consider in a vehicle purchase is driving range. On my Thanksgiving CX-3 drive I got about 29 actual mpg on the road. With the CX-3’s 11.9 gallon fuel tank there wasn’t enough driving range to make this trip without refueling along the way.

My January trip in the CX-5 however did prove to have enough driving range with its 15.3 gallon tank. I got around 25 mpg on this trip, but the 3.4 additional gallons of tank capacity provided enough additional driving range to make it through without refueling.

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I was again driving the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim in the CX-5 with all-wheel-drive that is priced at $29,870. For reference, the EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg combined, with 24 city mpg and 30 highway mpg.

The 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 was refreshed with some front and rear exterior updates. It’s available in three trim levels – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The interior quality of the ornamentation and materials used and also the functionality and usability of the cockpit zone have been improved along with updated front and rear seats. Suspension system changes and sound insulation improvements give greater ride comfort and cabin quietness.

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I did a more extensive review of the 2016.5 CX-5 last summer which you can read here.

More information, details and specifications on the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 and all Mazda vehicles can be found at

Now for 2017 the CX-5 will be all-new. Unveiled last November, it’s basically a scaled down CX-9. Or, a two-row 5-seat version of Mazda’s larger 3-row 7-seat SUV. It’s not yet on sale but is planned for early spring availability.

Along with a completely redesigned exterior and interior, the 2017 CX-5 has a 16-percent stiffer body structure, all-new suspension tuning with more precise steering and more acoustic tuning.

There will be standard LED headlights and tail light, an available power liftgate, full-speed active cruise control, available windshield-projected head-up display, wider-swinging rear doors, reclining rear seatbacks, second-row air conditioning and heating vents, available heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and USB charging ports in the back.

Newly available SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS with G-Vectoring Control (GVC) will provide a more refined and comfortable drive. GVC uses the engine in conjunction with the steering, throttle inputs and suspension responses, to provide this benefit. Drivers will find they’ll be making less subtle adjustments to the steering wheel while driving down the highway or streets and cornering is more planted and responsive.

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The body color lineup includes the newly developed Soul Red Crystal.

There’s big news under the hood and something that will really improve driving range. Mazda has said it will offer the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine in the all-new Mazda CX-5 for North America from the second half of 2017. It will be Mazda’s first diesel engine model in this market. The SKYACTIV-D 2.2 provides lots of torque and Mazda says it will rev freely to high RPMs while meeting the required strict emission standards. The engine also will have new Natural Sound Smoother and Natural Sound Frequency Control, proprietary technologies that reduce diesel knock for a quieter and more pleasing sound.

Mazda has a nice lineup of SUVs – small, medium and large, front or all wheel drive and soon gasoline or diesel engine. The choices are all good.

2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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