A Joy to Drive!
By Ron Amadon
BARNESVILLE, MD. – Small crossovers are supposed to haul things, sip gas, and get filled up with cookie crumbs. They are assigned to every manner of daily chores from band and hockey practice to tonight’s showing of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
While these vehicles fill in lots of needed boxes, fun to drive is not supposed to be one of them until you get behind the wheel of the CX-5 Mazda.
It is more fun than “Manchester by the Sea” and therefore “Jack Reacher” may “Never Go Back” to driving anything else. And the CX-5 is likely to only get better.
Mazda has announced that a “fully redesigned” model will be launched in February in Japan before being rolled out to global markets. It should appear here next spring.
A 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engine will be offered, the same as 2016 models, along with a new 2.2-liter diesel. Power figures for the diesel are yet to come. And yes, the manual six speed will still be available with the 2.0-liter. Otherwise it’s a fast acting-six speed automatic.
For 2017, Torsional Rigidity was increased 15.5 percent while interior noise was reduced by about 10 percent. Size wise, it is about the same as the current model, which by the way, is Mazda’s top seller. And for good reason.
The “Soul Red” tested 2016 simply came alive on a favorite rural road when Sport mode was engaged. In essence, it said “hang the gas mileage, let’s go have some fun” by holding on to lower gears longer and giving the tach needle a chance to dust off some higher rpms.
This with the 2.5-liter four with 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque matched with the six speed automatic that can be shifted manually via the center console stick. Look for a 0-60 just a smidge over 7.5 seconds
Now I don’t think the Cx-5 would keep up with a professional in a Miata, but as it grooved through turns one could not help but thinking that crossovers are not supposed to be like this. No body lean to speak off, plenty of power on tap exiting turns, (you can again love interstate exit ramps), and seats that comfortably keep your bottom in place during spirited outings.
EPA economy ratings on regular unleaded came to 24 city, 30 highway for a combined 26 mpg. Probably due to my love of the Sport mode, I returned 24 mpg for the week.
There was plenty of room for two adults in the second row seats, with space left over for hauling 55 pounds of sugar to a soup kitchen, and a huge load of bread and lots of pastry to another local non-profit.
Some controls, such as the audio system and navi, were located on the center console behind the shifter, perhaps not the best location for those who like to keep their eyes on the road. Hopefully, they will be moved in the 2017 model.
Extra sound proofing added for 2016 resulted in a quiet ride on the highway making this a good long distance crossover. Thanks also for the relaxing 8-way powered driver’s seat with lumbar adjustments. Modified suspension settings hit the sweet spot between handling and a more than acceptable ride on pavements crying for attention.
The test CX-5 was well optioned to the tune of $3,715 for safety features, a retractable rear cargo cover, roof rack, radar cruise control, and “Smart City Brake Support” among other things
That brought the asking price to $34,485 including $900 for delivery and handling.
One could cut that price by shopping for a Sport or Touring model. The starting price on the base Sport model is $21,795 for instance, to $23,195 for the Touring.
Either way, you would get a rewarding drive in a crossover that can also meet all the needs of a small family. A crossover that Dad can take out on Sunday morning on the most circuitous route possible to wherever he is going.
Length 179 inches
Width 72 inches
Height 66 inches
Wheelbase 106 inches
Towing Capacity 2,000 pounds
Ground Clearance 8.5 inches
Cargo Volume with 2nd row folded 64.8 cubic feet