2022 Mazda CX-5 Turbo Signature AWD – Review by David Colman
Tremendous value and performance for the money
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
It might seem counterintuitive to describe any affordable crossover as elegant. But with the significant upgrades Mazda has brought to the CX-5 for 2022, this model becomes the standout luxury compact crossover of the year. For the first time, all CX-5s will be equipped with standard all wheel drive. Mazda builds a wide variety of versions (Base, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo and Turbo Signature) available at incrementally higher price ranges. The Base non-turbo version utilizes a 187hp 2.5 liter in-line 4 cylinder engine and carries a retail price of $27,125. As you work your way into the more expensive turbo range, powered by a 250hp version of the 2.5 liter in-line 4, base price increases to a figure of $38,650 for the Signature model we tested.
With some subtle re-contouring of the external surface, the previously awkward styling of the CX-5 is gone for good. The grill gains a textured insert, the panel below it is now finished in body color, the headlight nacelles are better integrated into the fenders than before, and the previously unfinished plastic arches over the wheel openings are now painted body color. Mazda pays no heed to the current industry-wide styling mandate that dictates all top line models must roll on black alloy wheels. In fact, the Signature CX-5 abolishes that norm with its brilliantly chiseled set of 19 inch "Bright Alloy Wheels." These sparklers looked particularly good when set against the "Deep Crystal Blue Mica" finish of our test car. With 8 inches of width, they staunchly support the Toyo A36 225/55R19 all-season radials that insure the CX-5 will cling to both pavement and broken terrain with equal diligence.
The first thing you notice when you climb into the deftly tailored cockpit of this Mazda is the exceptional attention to detail lavished on each and every button, switch, surface and trim. Unlike so many chintzy looking compact crossovers which seem to have had their seats designed by one team, their dash laid out by another, and their ergonomics done by a third group, the interior of the CX-5 cabin looks all of a piece, designed by one group of specialists all working together. Mazda calls this unity of purpose their Kodo design philosophy, and its clarity shines through in every surface you encounter here. We particularly appreciated the subtle semi-gloss grey wood inserts that graced the door panels, and the artful design of the satin chrome rings that encircled the air ventilation ducts. It should be noted that the clarity of Kodo design is enhanced by the fact that the CX-5 Signature is constructed in Hiroshima, Japan with Japanese manufactured engine and transmission.
Driving the CX-5 was a consistently rewarding experience. The first attribute comes the instant you twist the steering wheel into your first turn. That's when you remark to yourself, "Oh yeah, this is a Mazda product." The trademark of this company is the exceptional feedback of its steering system. You could blindfold me, put me in 10 different cars, and one turn of the wheel would tell me which one was the Mazda. There's a fine tuned feedback loop between steering rack and driver that only Mazda, and maybe Porsche have consistently mastered. The rest of the controls in the Signature follow the high standards set by the steering system. Mazda has stiffened the frame of the CX-5 for 2022, and revised the suspension to make the crossover more responsive to driver commands. That the CX-5 now handles more like a Miata than ever should thus come as no surprise. However, we found ample torque steer when leveling the throttle from a standing start. This is due to the incendiary power curve of the turbo, which makes peak torque of 320lb.-ft. at just 2500rpm. In the "Normal Mode" MI-Drive setting, the Signature rode with a stiff gait. Switch into "Sport Mode," and you might see your soda can pitched out of its receptacle. Note that the Signature also offers an "Off-Road" MI-Drive that promises a more sluggish set of terrain response parameters.
The latest revamp of the CX-5 offers tremendous value and performance for the money. It is pleasurable to look at, delightful to sit in, and even better to drive.
2022 MAZDA CX-5 TURBO SIGNATURE AWD
ENGINE: 2.5 liter in-line 4, turbocharged and intercooled DOHC, 16-valve, DFI
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 22MPG City/27MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $40,000
HYPES: Detail Attention Supreme
GRIPES: Beware Torque Steer