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Mazda CX-5 Review

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 ranks 3 out of 19 Affordable Compact SUVs. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Mazda CX-5, as well as reliability and safety data.

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 is ranked:

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 earns great fuel economy, and reviewers say its nimble handling makes it one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs in the class.

Powering the 2016 CX-5 is a four-cylinder engine that critics say delivers sluggish acceleration on the highway. Most automotive journalists recommend choosing the larger optional four-cylinder engine, which they say has more satisfying power and doesn’t sacrifice much fuel economy. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on base models, and a six-speed automatic is available. Reviewers are impressed with the smooth operation of the manual and the quick performance of the automatic. The base CX-5 earns 26/35 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, which are some of the best estimates in the class. Automotive journalists praise the CX-5 for its sporty handling, sharp steering and strong brakes, which they agree make the CX-5 more enjoyable to drive than most rivals.

Test drivers say the 2016 Mazda CX-5 has an attractive, practical cabin made with high-quality materials. Some reviewers report that the CX-5's front seats are comfortable, but others wish they had more cushioning. Most critics agree that the rear seats have good room for a pair of adults. The CX-5's standard features include Bluetooth, push-button start, a four-speaker stereo with voice commands, an auxiliary input jack and a USB port. Optional features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, a Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display, satellite radio, navigation, a power moonroof, a rearview camera, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and low-speed automatic braking. Test drivers are pleased with the infotainment system's responsiveness, simplicity and crisp display. A few also report that the center stack controls are easy to use. However, some critics are disappointed in the sound quality on both the standard and upgraded audio systems. With 64.8 cubic feet of room, the Mazda CX-5 has more cargo space than most rivals have. Reviewers appreciate the CX-5's convenient cargo features including easy-to-fold rears seats that make a flat load floor, a middle pass-through for long items and a good amount of small-item storage compartments inside.

  • "With practical matters like cost to own, size and fuel economy all neck and neck, the choice of your new crossover really could come down to 'intangibles' like handling. In that way I think the added driving joy of the CX-5 becomes a difference maker, even if the driver in question isn't of the enthusiast bent. The added tech and quieter cabin won't hurt, either, of course. Both should insulate your test drive from my insistent hollering about the SportWagen for sale down the street, and perhaps help Mazda sell a few more cars." -- Autoblog
  • "If you want a small, stylish, fun-to-drive SUV, you'll find it in the CX-5. If you're among the few who prefer a manual transmission, this Mazda boasts one of the best available in an SUV. Fuel economy of up to 35 mpg and a sub-$23,000 starting price are added icing." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With its spacious, functional interior, impressive fuel economy and top safety scores, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is a top pick among small crossovers. The CX-5's fun-to-drive demeanor is just a welcome bonus." -- Edmunds
  • "Now entering its third year of production, the 2015 Mazda CX-5 continues to climb the sales charts, quickly becoming one of the most well-reviewed and desirable compact crossover SUVs around. While the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 still dominate as sales-volume leaders, neither has the sporty handling or clean, uncluttered instrument panel of the CX-5, nor can they match its impressive highway fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon. The CX-5 is also one of the few crossovers that still offers the option of a manual transmission." -- AutoTrader (2015)

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Other SUVs to Consider

The Honda CR-V earns excellent fuel economy and has one of the roomiest cargo holds in the class. Reviewers like its spacious front and rear seats and its long list of standard features, which include a rearview camera and Bluetooth.

The GMC Terrain has an upscale interior and roomy rear seats with lots of legroom, according to reviewers. Its available V6 engine has plenty of power and produces quick acceleration, they add.

Compare the CX-5, CR-V and Terrain »

Details: 2016 Mazda CX-5

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 seats five, has standard front-wheel drive and is available with all-wheel drive. The CX-5 has three trim levels. The Sport trim comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission, while Touring and Grand Touring trims have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is also available on the Sport trim. The CX-5 sees a minor interior and exterior refresh, as well as new optional features for 2015, but is otherwise mostly unchanged since its debut in 2013. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2013 to 2016 model years.

See 2016 Mazda CX-5 specs »

Review Last Updated: 5/13/15

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