The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Review By John Heilig

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION: 2.5-liter I-4/6-speed automatic

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm/186 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm

WHEELBASE: 106.2 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 179.1 x 72.5 x 65.4 in.

TIRES: P225/55R19

CARGO CAPACITY: 30.9/59.6 cu. ft. (rear sears up/down)

ECONOMY: 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway/22.3 mpg test

FUEL TANK: 15.3 gal.

CURB WEIGHT: 3,693 lbs.


COMPETITIVE CLASS: Jeep Cherokee, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape

STICKER: $28,000 (est.)

BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda CX-5 is a nice package, but controls are all over the place and not intuitive.

I wanted to like the Mazda CX-5, but boy, this puppy made it hard. A neighbor traded in his Corvette for a CX-5, allegedly because he wanted more practicality, and I wanted to compare. Yes, the practicality is there, but there are frustrating niggling details that drove me crazy.

First, and most important, controls are all over the place. For example the touch screen infotainment center helps with audio and HVAC, but there are simply too many buttons and controls. The infotainment screen looks like a pop-up, but it isn’t.

The audio works with an on/off/volume button that is on the console next to the shifter. I feel this is a poor location. Tuning is with the rotary controller.

The HVAC controls at the base of the center stack win plaudits with two knobs for individual temperatures and buttons for the rest.

We needed the navigation system because we had a trip planned to an unknown final destination. I simply could not program the final destination into the system. Although it’s possible to use the rotary controller on the console to enter street, city, etc., when I tried to put in the house number, it quit after two numbers and wouldn’t accept more. I ended up using my phone’s nav system and still traveled all over the place.

There’s good power from the 2.5-liter Skyactive four.

Economy was reasonable for a small SUV. We drove the CX-5 on Turnpike and city streets and the CX-5 did well. Ride quality is hard and firm, but not harsh, on less-then-perfect roads.On better road surfaces, ride quality improves.

Parking was good and easy. We didn’t need the overhead view that pops up when you’re parking, but it helped. We also had a back-up camera and front warning when we got too close to barriers.

Assisting in the drive were a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic control. The BSM was especially important in city traffic.

Since there was a decided chill in the air during our test, the heated front seats were a blessing. Additionally, they are comfortable. Cozy knee room reduced the comfort of the heated rear seats, and rear passengers have good outside visibility.

For interior storage, bottoms to the door pulls make them useful as keys or phone storage. Actually, they were great for phone storage because whenever someone decided to call us, the phone was right there.

There’s a deep cubby at the base of the center stack. Inside the console/arm rest is a shelf that adds utility, as well as USB and AUX outlets.

The CX-5 wants to be an SUV. Therefore, good cargo is a must and the CX-5 passes muster inside its power liftgate. Additionally, the rear seat backs fold easily to create a flat cargo floor.

Overall, the Mazda CX-5 has a lot to offer, but I found the poor ergonomics of the controls detracted from the overall experience.

(c) 2018 The Auto Page Syndicate