Styling and Looks
- Our test vehicle, the range topping 100 Year Anniversary Edition, with the 2.5 L Skyactiv-G Turbo 4 cylinder engine i-Active All Wheel Drive with the Technology Package.
- Mazda’s current generation of vehicles have a strong design cue (called KODO or “Soul of Motion”) that is carried out and mirrored through each of the brands current lineage. This is amply abundant with the CX-5. You’re met with a strong prominent front grill, which is minimalistic with sharp features. The long sharp LED headlights wrap around the front corners. The CX-5 like its siblings and unlike other manufacturers have rather blunt front ends, but, this design cue provides for a very aggressive front end stance. The minimalistic approach carries out through to the rear of the SUV to a classic bubble rear shape. This translates into a beautiful vehicle with a presence. One can easily see the family resemblance with design cues seen in the Mazda 3 and CX-9.
- The 100th rides on 19 inch multi spoke alloys with contrasting machined faces and dark painted inserts wearing 225/55R19 rubber all round.
- When compared to the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4 the CX-5 stands out of the crowd as the most subtle of the bunch, but, also the most attractive.
Interior peak and views
- Maybe it’s me, but, a vehicle that dawns a contrasting black and red leather interior just says sexy. When stepping into that buttery soft red leather cockpit you cannot help, but, feel pampered like a rock star. The instrument cluster is a classic three circle design offering RPM to the left, speedo center and information on the right. The main infotainment screen, like most manufacturers, now juts out from the center dash, rather than being incorporated into the center stack. The majority of functions are either touch controlled or using Mazda’s HMI Commander Switch – a relatively easy system to learn. One downfall is the storage bin space and the cup holder placement. For taller occupants the cup holders are placed too far back in the console making accessing them an effort and awkward.
- Rear seats offer a host of optional amenities such as heating, dual zone climate, reclining and 40/20/40 splitting for cargo configuration. Another cool feature is the USB charging in the rear center armrest, a useful and added convenience for older kids and adults alike.
Engine and Powertrain
- The CX-5 100th utilizes a Turbocharged 2.5 liter direct injected Skyactiv engine. The engine produces multiple levels of output depending on the fuel octane (227 hp @ 5,000 rpm with 87 octane fuel and peak torque of 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm). The numbers increase to 250 hp @ 5,000 rpm with 93 octane fuel and peak torque of 320 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm. All of this is routed through a Skyactiv Drive 6 speed AT transmission. Shifts are smooth and predictable, but, the transmission is the weakest link in the chain. Given the sporty dynamics of the CX-5 you yearn for a quicker more responsive dual clutch or ZF type transmission.
- The 100th also came with a host of other Skyactiv Technologies. One of the most interesting features introduced in the CX-5 originally is Skyactiv G Vectoring. A unique manipulation of engine torque to imperceptibly reduce the fatigue of body roll and nose dive during braking and cornering. The result is a feeling of flatter cornering and increased grip that reduces the occupant’s body motion side to side, backward and forward. In addition to G Vectoring, the 100th offers a full host of driving aids called i-Activesense such as lane mitigation, active emergency breaking and blind spot monitoring. Also available is Smart City Brake Support and Driver Attention Alert. All combined, the systems operate well, however, the lane keep assist could perform earlier and prior to actual lane departure as it does in the Honda CR-V.
- The true joy of the CX-5 is how spirted it feels to drive. If compared to its closest rival, the Honda CR-V, the latter may be slightly bigger and the more logical choice. For those looking for the smile factor while driving the family hauler, the CX-5 is clearly the better choice. It rewards the driver with proper road feedback, good throttle response with a lively engine that almost begs you to push it harder. The CX-5 is a perfect balance of capable chassis, peppy engine and responsive driving dynamics wrapped in an attractive body that is fresh and appeals to old and young alike. Quite frankly, it leaves the driver thrilled and will do so on a day in day out basis.
- There is no question the king of the hill in the SUV market, be it compact, mid or full size is the Honda CR-V. The 2021 CX-5 represents a sportier more attractive alternative. Other variants from the likes of Honda or Toyota cannot come close to the driving dynamics of the CX-5. It further raises the bar, the luxury bar, for this segment of vehicle and only recently have the likes of Nissan come close to matching this. In my opinion, it beats the CR-V in looks any day of the week. It presents the young family looking for a new vehicle or older family, downsizing, with a real alternative option. If the main driver in these families is a car enthusiast the choice will be easy.