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First Drive: 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

Crossovers are typically designed to be a jack of all trades, but being good to drive isn’t typically their forte. Mazda on the other hand thought differently and graced us with the CX-5 in 2013. For 2016, their mild-manner compact crossover has been rejuvenated, adding some modern touches of technology and new curb appeal giving it a more mature, competitive edge.

First things first, let’s talk about what hasn’t changed. Under that aggressive sculpted nose, we find the same zealous soul as before, a 2.5-liter SKYACTIV four-cylinder engine that’s found in most of Mazda’s product line. For those that prefer to do their own shifting, a six-speed manual is offered up in the CX-5, but only on the 2.0-liter 155-HP front-wheel drive Sport, which is the absolute base. Our sampled CX-5 arrived as the superior Grand Touring (GT for short) with a starting price of $28,220, a long list of standard equipment, and that 2.5L engine.

Weighting just over 3560lbs, 50lbs up from the previous mode, the CX-5 makes due with an adequate dose of 184-horspower and 185lb-ft of torque. Using a keen, swift-shifting six-speed automatic, getting to highway cruising speed stretches the 8 second mark with confidence.

However, straight-line performance isn’t what Mazda’s really about. With the SKYACTIV technology, the chassis is where the CX-5 starts to pay dividends. Much the like the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 – the CX-5 handles phenomenally well, unlike anything in its segment. The turns are crisp and agile from the nicely weighted steering wheel that gives the driver a good feel for the road through each turn. The chassis here also feels solid and well composed in its maneuvers, it provides subtle body roll during abrupt tactics yet maintains a comfortable livable cabin over the rough patches in the roads when we’re being civilized.

Fuel consumption plays a huge part in the SKYACTIV world with fuel figures reaching 26/33/29 (city/highway/combined.) The problem here is, in order to achieve such high fuel consumption you have to sacrifice the fun and layoff the throttle, which we weren’t so good at and came with a price. During our week manage to achieve only 26 mpg combined on regular octane with an average of 350 miles of range.

But let’s get to what’s really new for 2016. Unless you spring for the $1625 Touring Package or the $1505 GT Tech Package (seen here), you’ll have to squint relatively hard to see the changes. Across the board we’ll find some new head- and tail lights have been added, as well as a new five-bar black along with a new LED indicated side mirror housing. Also new brings in 19-inch black alloys on our Grand Touring which gives our CX-5 a solid sporty stance, especially against our $300 Soul Red Metallic Paint. Adding the Tour or the GT Tech Pack, that’s where we’ll find the significant changes adding in adaptive LED head-, tail- and fog lighting system. These minor yet, dramatic changes sets the CX-5 apart from the crowd – the new look has a premium composure about it while maintaining that proper Mazda sporty expression.

If we jump into the interior we’ll find some new hardware and materials have been upgraded for more of a first-class cabin space. Our featured Parchment white leather interior was truly the icing on the cake to one of the most comfortable, roomy crossovers in its segment. For 2016 we get an upgraded dash design with new soft touch materials and metal trims as well as a redesigned center arm rest.

As part as the $1505 GT Tech Package brought in Mazda’s new infotainment system with Navigation, text messaging alerts & read-outs and a rear-view camera – it’s one of the best, intuitive system’s on the market next to Hyundai/Kia. Using a rotary knob in the center console navigating between menus and options is relatively easy – the system is touch screen, but only when in park (so uncool.) Also fitted on our tester is the new $1500 GT I-ActiveSense Package that brought in Mazda’s Radar Guided Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Smart Brake Support – the adaptive cruise control system here was a bit too abrasive for our taste applying the brakes rather aggressively during certain traffic situations, it was a system we better felt stayed turned off.

Opting of the CX-5 GT brings in tons of standard equipment that makes it remarkably good value amongst in competition like this gorgeous white leather interior, heated front seats, power driver seat, sunroof, keyless push-button go, dual-zone climate control, Bose Audio, and blind-spot monitoring. But what we like most are the little details throughout like the pulsating speedometer, the red and white contrast stitching on the seats and the fact it locks itself when you walk away.

Optioned out at $32,890, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is all the crossover you’re ever going to need. It is the King Jack of all trades.

Price (As Tested):
2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD: $28,220
Destination: $880
Featured Options:
Cargo Mat: $60
Rear Bumper Guard: $100
Door Sill Trim Plates: $125
Retractable Cargo Cover: $200
Premium Soul Red Paint: $300
GT I-ActiveSense Package: $1,500
Grand Touring Tech Package: $1,505
Grand Total: $32,890


  1. I can’t believe they offer this in a 6-speed manual! That’s awesome (even if it’s only for the absolute base model). The CX-5 turned more heads for you that week than I thought it would. What’s a “pulsating speedometer”?

    • Right! I would like to try that one out sometime. I was surprised how many people were interested in this. The “pulsating speedometer” would basically flash multiple times before starting the engine.

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