CARS.COM — In the time since its introduction, the CX-5 has become Mazda’s best-selling model, and though the company is more closely tied spiritually to its sports cars, it’s the CX-5 that keeps the lights on and pays the bills.
Related: Mazda Announces 2017 CX-5 Pricing
This is the first full redesign for the CX-5 since its debut in 2012, and I was excited to investigate the results. There’s a dearth of fun-to-drive compact SUVs, which makes sense — most automakers put a larger emphasis on utility and fuel economy in this class, probably rightly so. But that does make the CX-5 and its driver focus stand out from its peers in a positive way.
The CX-5 will still be offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. I tested a front-wheel-drive Grand Touring model, which starts at $30,335 (including a $940 destination charge) and also included the optional Grand Touring Premium Package ($1,830) and the Machine Gray Metallic paint ($300) seen in these photos. This bumped the sticker price for the CX-5 to $32,465.
There is more than a little CX-9 (Mazda’s three-row SUV) in the design of the 2017 CX-5, and that’s fine by me. I think that the CX-9 is one of the best-looking SUVs period, and seeing elements of it in the CX-5, starting with that vertical front grille, puts the CX-5 on the flattering side of imitation. Dimensions are for all intents and purposes unchanged in the redesign as well, keeping the compact SUV… well, compact.
Other exterior updates include two new paint colors for the CX-5: the previously mentioned Machine Gray Metallic as well as Soul Red Metallic. There are updated headlights and taillights as well, with sharp LED accents. For the first time, a power liftgate is also available.
One styling quirk from the previous CX-5 continues on to the new generation. Grand Touring models still feature 19-inch wheels, but somehow, even with these enlarged wheels, there’s still enough gap between the tire and the fender at all four corners to be very noticeable.
The biggest improvement for the 2017 CX-5 versus the previous version is quietness. There are new door seals, added sound deadening and new acoustic glass, all of which work in concert to keep the cabin more isolated and free of wind and road noise. It’s a very quiet cabin, reminding me of the 2017 Honda CR-V, but it’s worth noting that the CR-V uses active noise cancellation and the CX-5 does not.
Just like the exterior of the new CX-5, the interior has prominent styling changes but remains recognizable. The 7-inch touchscreen for the Mazda Connect infotainment system has moved to the top of the dashboard where it sits higher up in the driver’s line of sight, similar to its placement in the CX-9 and Mazda3. (When the car is in motion, the touchscreen functionality ceases and a rotary control on the center console must be used.) Unfortunately, there is still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration.
Similar to the exterior, interior dimensions are close to the previous version of the CX-5. Rear legroom is class competitive, but where the CX-5 excels is in headroom: There was 3-4 inches of space between the top of my head and the ceiling without the seat reclined, which helps provide a feeling of space for backseat passengers.
The backseat got a lot of attention in the redesign, with Touring and above models adding air-conditioning vents and two USB charging ports to the backseat area. The good news is that the USB ports charge at 2.1 amps, which is enough to charge tablets as well as smartphones. The bad news? Those charge ports are located in the storage tray that folds down from the middle seat, so if someone is sitting in the middle, then charging won’t be an option. Heated rear outboard seats are also available as a part of the Premium Package on Grand Touring models.