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Red rover, red rover, it’s time to send the CX-5 on over… To the Kodo dark side that is. Being the last and final chapter to Mazda’s Kodo design element, the CX-5 now embraces a new era of design and technology. Fully revamped for 2017, Mazda has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to the latest installment of its compact crossover, for Mazda’s sake; let’s just hope it hasn’t lost its sporting credentials.

New Style, New Personality:

Sometimes being picked last isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With the CX-5 being the last one to receive Mazda’s sexy Kodo design, the CX-5 is now one sexy crossover. It endowers a whole new attitude with sexy, streamline lines and curves. It’s a looker everywhere it goes. Mazda has luckily made their trim scale of the CX-5 easy on the consumer offer three choices: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Starting at $24,045 – the CX-5 features a host of exciting options like Push Button Start, touch-screen infotainment system and LED headlights.

Our tester however came in wearing the $29,395 Grand Touring badge – this being the fanciest of the crop one can get. Exteriorly, we’re upgraded with 19-inch wheels over the standard 17-inches, LED active bending headlights that adjust with the steering wheel, LED fog lights, LED taillights and a power lift tailgate – which has yet to develop the smart feature like Hyundai Tucson or Ford Escape.

Increase in Power, By Just a Little:

Working with the same engine as its processors, the Mazda CX-5 uses a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder to scoot along. It has been upgraded however from 184 horsepower to 187. Now, 3-more horses don’t sound like much, and considering it takes 8-seconds to 60 mph, it sounds disappointing. But, the CX-5 moves along just fine – sure extra power always sounds nice – but it doesn’t feel necessary here. It accelerates smoothly and maneuvers along with traffic smoothly through a six-speed automatic transmission, which is also the only transmission of choice.

Developed by the people who made the best driving roadster under 50-grand, the CX-5 shares a lot of influences made from the MX-5…ish. For a crossover, which normally can provide numb, unentertaining steering and driving habits, the CX-5 is one any drive can enjoy. The steering is light and responsive with proper road feedback and feel. The chassis is nimble and compliant to road changes – and while there is some body roll, it knows how to take a corner aggressively without feeling like we’re trouble. On a twisty bit of road the CX-5 really comes to life – changing the transmission into Sport Mode adjust the revolutions to hold longer and increases throttle sensitivity. Popping the gear lever into manual mode and the transmission opens up to the drivers every input – the gear changes are relatively responsive and quick.

But wait… there’s more. Mazda has advanced the CX-5 stability control system with what’s called G-Vectoring Control. It sounds complicated, but really is a piece of clever engineering that helps minimize the loss of traction during slippery condition – ideally in snow and ice climates. Adding that to the $1300 extra all-wheel drive system and the CX-5 would be a pretty impressive crossover. Even with the all-wheel drive system, the CX-5 sipped its fuel like a cup of hot coffee, after 800 miles of rigorous city and highway driving, we managed to average 32 MPG combined – three more mpg’s above the EPA.

Stepping Into the Premium Zone:

It would seem the designers over at Mazda have it fairly easy when it comes the interior department. Nearly looking identical to everything else in their lineup, the CX-5 incorporates a modern, simplistic design that overall is gratifying. Using a variety of high quality materials throughout the cabin, the CX-5 feels more premium than its price tag. Every surface of our Grand Touring was cover in soft touch materials and the dark faux wood that gave a premium presence and a comfortable atmosphere.

Premium features are finding their way into the economy sourced products and Mazda is showing no exception on the CX-5. Our white leather interior, while not suited for a family, was tastefully executed and a breath of fresh air from the usual black leather. As part of the $1830 Premium Package, we had a memory driver seat with a power adjustable passenger seat, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a dazzling high definitely heads-up display that could only be found in higher priced luxury vehicle.

It’s without a doubt that the interior of the CX-5 is every bit as comfortable as it looks. The high belt line gives a commanding, full, 360 degree view, while remaining comfortably supportive. At high speeds, the CX-5 remains quiet and peaceful with limited wind and tire noise. The rear seats have a nice high access point with a nearly 90-degree opening rear door. Rear occupants had minor complaints of leg-room; perhaps the driver could be kind enough to scoot up an inch or two. While the CX-5 is shorter than its previous generation, there is no sacrifice on rear cargo capacity and the ability to fold the seats in a split 40/20/40 configuration adds to cargo volume.

Safety Zone:  

Like all other crossovers in this segment, the CX-5 is now comparable on its available safety features. Standard on the Sport trim features Smart City Braking, the vehicle will apply the brakes when about to hit something at speeds less than 18 mph. The Touring takes it up a notch by featuring blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic detection. The Grand Touring however, that’s where all the tech guru is featuring Adaptive Cruise Control with Autonomous Stop & Go Braking, Lane Departure with Lane Keep Assist, and Automatic High Beams.

Looking at our Grand Touring’s final price of $34,015, the CX-5 is comparably priced considering some of its competitors can get over the 36k range. With a sharp attitude and the sporting heritage, the CX-5 remains one of our favorite compact crossovers, just now with a more premium touch.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring: $30,695
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $34,085
Performance Specs:
2.5-liter SKYACTIV Four-Cylinder – 187-Horsepower, 6-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±8.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 23/29/26 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average:  31.8 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±350 Miles