2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD

Test Drive: 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD

The Mazda CX-5 is a popular choice among Canadian drivers looking for a reliable, fuel efficient, comfortable, fun-to-drive sport utility vehicle with a little bit of panache. Typically, this segment of the market can be a little, dare I say, bland when it comes to exterior styling. Not so the CX-5; in fact it has a somewhat polarizing effect on people as I take an unsanctioned survey during my week long test drive. Popularity doesn’t always mean everyone likes you.

A mid-model refresh of the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 sees the incorporation of a new front nose, including the grille, front bumper and foglights, as well as numerous improvements designed to up the WOW factor inside the passenger compartment. Mazda has never been one to overdue the look and feel of their interiors, so the swap to nicer materials and improved technology; while maintaining an uncomplicated user-interface, is something I applaud. Less chrome and more focus on the road ahead is always a good thing. Unless, of course, you happen to be driving a Jaguar or Bentley, but that is a completely different story.

Power comes in the form of a 2.5-litre DOHC 4-cylinder engine with SKYACTIV-G. Matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission; a clear distinction from the other CVT equipped vehicles in this market, it delivers a robust 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. Personally, I enjoy the sense of smooth upshifts through a full range of gears, rather than the ongoing drone of a CVT. Sport mode allows me to hold gears a little longer, but for the most part I keep it in drive and let the upshifts and downshifts happen as they should.

All-wheel drive provides traction at all four corners and 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS bring everything to a controlled stop. Independent front and rear suspension, both with coil springs and torsion bar stabilizer, plus rack-and-pinion steering with electric power assist provide the Mazda drive experience you expect from a car in an SUV. The Nissan Rogue has a similar athletic feel, justifying the use of the word “sport” in Sport Utility.

Inside, the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD assumes the look and feel now associated with the full range of Mazda vehicles. Seats are very comfortable, for tall and short, large or small bodies and the driver has 8-way adjustment to assume almost any position. Sorry front seat passenger, your fore/aft adjustment is manual. Back seat room for three offers equally nice touches.

The three, or is it four, spoke steering wheel feels good in my hands, leather and quality stitching enhancing the drive experience. A host of features allow for adjustment of the standard 9-speaker Bose audio system, cruise control, info and cellphone, assuming you have one. The sky is the limit with its standard power moonroof.

Round black gauges with white letters and numbers are extremely easy to read, even at a quick glance. The HVAC system with dual-zone climate control is also straightforward with its approach, but allows for exceptional heating and cooling. Heated seat buttons have 3 different settings available. The center console features a 7-inch touch screen with voice-activated navigation and control of AM/FM/Sirius XM or auxiliary audio. Two USB jacks allow for different accessories to be plugged in at the same time.

The newest safety features play a lead role in my test drive of the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD as it comes equipped with the Technology Package. Included in the package are Smart City Brake Support, Smart Brake Support, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Forward Obstruction and Lane Departure Warning and High Beam Control. Of note, the lane departure warning sound is a deep base boom, something that caught me off-guard the first time I experienced, but not forgotten afterwards.

A winner for those who expect their mid-size SUV to drive with a little gusto on pavement, the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD looks and performs just a little bit better this year than last. Mazda seems to have a plan moving forward and they are working it to near perfection. Given the popularity of this market segment, that is indeed a very good thing.

2016.5 Mazda CX-5
Trim level: GT AWD
Price as tested (before taxes): $38,890.00
Freight: $1,895
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5L 4-cylinder/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 184 hp/ 185 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (58L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 9.8, hwy: 7.9 L/100 Km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 8.6 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: BMW X1, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4

Related Links:
Mazda Canada

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