While Mazda, like every other car maker these days, sells more utility vehicles than cars these days; they seem to embrace the car-like aspects of them more than most, continuing to deliver some of the most fun to drive crossovers out there. Still competition is intense, especially for compact-sized people movers. That’s where this redesigned CX-5 is now playing so well. So let’s see why it’s giving major rivals a headache.

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 kicks off the 2nd generation of Mazda’s compact crossover.

Though technically still riding on the same chassis, it has been heavily revised front to back, with aims to provide a smoother ride, as well as more comfort and quietness in the cabin.

Of course Mazda is also relying on electronics to do a lot of the yeoman work now as well, with new G-Vectoring Control vehicle dynamics enhancement. 

Unlike most in the segment, no turbo power here, a straight 2.5-liter naturally aspirated I4. But there are three more horsepower than before at 187; torque remains the same at 185 lb-ft., but new software helps it feel a bit more responsive than before.

That’s even with an additional 60 or so pounds of weight.  No more manual transmission, as the 6-speed automatic is now standard, but all-wheel-drive remains optional. Towing capacity is only 2,000-lbs.  

Government Fuel Economy Ratings take a slight dip, as the City rating falls from 24 to 23 for all-wheel-drive; the rest are unchanged at 29-Highway and 26-Combined. Our average was right on, at 26.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular. The Energy Impact Score remains above average at 12.7-barrels of annual oil consumption, with emissions of 5.8-tons of CO2.

Body work is obviously new, now with a clear resemblance to the larger CX-9. That means a larger grille; taller, flatter nose; and full LED headlights standard. 

The roof line has more of an arch to it, while the back end is smoothed out and highlighted with dual polished exhaust tips. 

Likewise, the interior takes on the CX-9 theme as well, perhaps not quite as posh, but certainly a big step up from before. The same basic Mazda infotainment system is here and does the basics well; but secondary things require a lot of menu hopping. 

Hopping in the rear seat, you’ll find a little more room than before, though that’s at the expense of cargo space, which falls from 34.1 cubic-ft. to 30.9. 3-piece split-folding seatbacks can expand the space to 59.6 cubic-ft. 

All of the chassis work pays off with a much quieter ride; it’s now quite pleasant, easily one of best riding in its class.

And don’t worry, it’s still plenty of fun to drive; steering dynamics are good, but there is an unnaturally fake heavy feel to the wheel. Suspension feels nice and tight. 

Seat comfort is OK, but not great; and the central armrest sits too far back to be useful. Things sure do look looks great in here, though.  

Response off the line is only adequate. Sport mode does seem to let you rev the engine a little higher, with a nice aggressive engine note. 

The trip to 60 took a reasonable 8.5-seconds; with our ¼-mile time coming in at 16.5-seconds at 85 miles-per-hour.

The CX-5 is well-balanced through the cones as well. The aforementioned G-Vectoring Control is quite novel. It cuts ignition spark on turn-in, using engine-braking to shift weight to the front tires for more grip, rather than momentarily engaging the wheel brakes like some competitors. Tests show it also makes occupants feel more secure on twisty roads.

When it does come time to actually use the brakes, a short 113-foot was our average stopping distance from 60. Pedal feel is soft, with some fade, but overall performance is above average. In addition, Smart City Brake support automatic braking is now standard on all models. 

Base pricing is par for the segment at $24,985, with top trim Grand Touring going for $30,335. All-wheel-drive can be added for $1,300 more. 

Despite being one of the most fun-to-drive compact crossovers, first gen CX-5 sales never really caught fire. So it was clear to Mazda that as much as they and we love good handling SUVs, comfort and serenity are more important to most crossover buyers. The good news for us is, the second gen 2017 Mazda CX-5 keeps the fun factor high, yet delivers a much more pleasant and refined driving experience. The good news for Mazda? CX-5 sales are finally hot! 


  • Engine: 2.5 liter
  • Horsepower: 187
  • Torque: 185 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.5 seconds @ 85 mph
  • EPA: 23 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.8 tons/yr