by Jay Kana
With the mid-cycle refresh for 2016, the Mazda CX-5 didn’t really need much tinkering with. Yes, they had to make a few small changes, as all car manufacturers do, to avoid having the exact same launch product for 4-6 years. We’re fickle consumers. We want to see changes, we want something better, we want the latest and greatest, even if it’s only slight adjustments such as a revised front end (grill/bumper/fog lights/lots of LED lights) and some small changes on the inside (electronic parking brake, quieter cabin, leather shift knob, standard leather seats and navigation on the GT).
The important thing here is that they’ve kept the utilitarian side and the “feels like a Mazda 3 GT on the road” side well balanced.
This cute-ute still has a strong, handsome stance and is one of the better-looking ones in its class. Mazda’s KODO Soul of Motion design comes through again with smooth lines and athletic feel.
Having it sit on 19” wheels for the GT AWD model (which was my tester for the week) only added to the allure. The aforementioned LED lights produce a classy look to go with this already good-looking machine.
Engine wise, the base model GX comes with a 2.0L SkyActiv 4-banger giving you 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. of torque with a manual or automatic gear box.
The GS and GT come with the bigger 2.5 L SkyActiv 4-cylinder engine; that’s good for 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque. While 29 horsepower may not seem like much, I’d like to see it standard across the board as the lower figures may have you pushing extra hard on the gas pedal when the CX-5 is full of people, gear, etc.
Mileage for my tester registers at 9.8 city and 7.9 highway for L/100 km, which is respectable. Using regular gas all around, the AWD tank takes 58L while the 2WD models take 56.
For my week of city/highway driving, I came in at a touch over 9L/100km of driving without anybody/thing in the rear seats. Even still, the fuel ratings are quite good for the CX-5.
Drive quality is quite good with it feeling more like a car than a small SUV. Steering is responsive, handling is impressive and the overall feel of the CX-5 is that of a sedan but with a higher line of sight and more cargo space. There is a sport mode if you want a bit of a boost but I was quite happy keeping it in normal mode for most of my week.
From the Mazda offerings I’ve driven, it’s something that’s consistent and I imagine resonates well with those looking towards Mazda for the next vehicle.
Inside, the 8-way power heated driver’s seat is very comfortable and the beltline is just high enough that you don’t strain your left arm when resting it where the glass and door meet.
The top of the line GT trim comes standard with adaptive front lighting with auto-levelling headlights and navigation, and the GS and GT come standard with blind spot monitors and rear cross traffic alerts.
Bump up $2,100 for the GT Technology package (jammed full of everything the CX-5 offers) and you get a full suite of safety features:
- Smart city brake support
- Smart brake support
- Mazda radar cruise control
- Forward obstruction warning
- High beam control
- Lane departure warning
- Sirius XM
Not too shabby for under $40K, Mazda. And their new “Unlimited Mileage Warranty” gives you the freedom to drive all 2015 and newer vehicles without having to constantly worry about enjoying the car and running out of warranty in the first few years.
The 7-inch touch screen is responsive and big enough that there’s no squinting required.
Mazda’s HMI (Human Machine Interface) system lets you keep the 7-inch screen fingerprint-free with relatively easy to use controls, all centred on a rotary knob. From it, you can control everything that you get on the touch screen, and the electronic parking brake (great space saver) is handily located to its left.
Having the screen not stand above the dashboard is something I hope transfers to all Mazda offerings. It looked a bit out of place when it first came out a few years ago. Happily, on the 2016 CX-5, it’s incorporated into the design of the dashboard and flows nicely.
All in all, the 2016 CX-5 is a strong continuation of the 2015 model. It’s a good looking compact SUV with strong ride quality, great available technology, good looks and a starting price a touch below $23,000.
As we expect more out of our vehicles in balancing car-like feel with useful storage space and a bit of pep beneath the gas pedal, the CX-5 performs well and then some.
$34,895 - 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD
$2,100 - Technology package
$1,895 - Freight and PDE
$38,890 - Total price as tested