2018 Mazda CX-5
AJAC’s Best Small Utility
- 박재승 (firstname.lastname@example.org) --
- 24 Apr 2018
By James Park
The CX-5, Mazda’s compact crossover utility vehicle, is stylish, efficient, nimble and adequately powerful. It also slathers on a heaping of refinement comparable with some premium vehicles that sell for tens of thousands of dollars more.
No wonder the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) picked it as the ‘Best Small Utility of 2018.’ As a member of this organization who has not always agreed with its choices, this writer, however, has no misgiving about endorsing the CX-5 wholeheartedly as a deserving winner.
That being said, not all AJAC category winners subsequently become bestsellers in their relative segments. Sadly, there’s always going to be a gap (however narrow or wide) between professional assessment and popular perception. Such a gap has created the Trump administration south of the border, but I digress.
The point is, in the very crowded compact CUV market, more consumers go for Honda CR-Vs, Toyota RAV4s and Ford Escapes. It is worthy to note, however, that in the last few years, the CX-5 has leapfrogged over Mazda3 to become the bestselling Mazda model in the North American market.
Arguably the best-looking vehicle in its segment, the CX-5 also appeals to those who take driving seriously. The vehicle is smallish and has less space to stow stuff than some of its competitors, but the CX-5’s dialed-in suspension carries it through corners with confidence and its steering is accurate and fairly communicative.
The all new model introduced last year gets more sound insulation compared to the model it replaces, resulting in quieter cabin. All the materials used throughout the interior do not look cheap, adding to the luxury ambience. With the rear seats folded, the floor is now flat for more efficient loading of cargo.
The head-up display (HUD) projects relevant info onto the windshield, heated leather seats are all-day comfortable and the heated steering wheel is also appreciated during the recent cold snap. On the negative side, the screen is small and bit cumbersome to use. Also, the Bose premium audio does not sound all that great.
Of course, all enthusiasts want more power. As it is, the CX-5’s 2.5 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine develops maximum 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. This beats Subaru’s normal-breathing 2.5 litre flat four but nothing really to write home about.
The engine, however, is more than adequate for its duty in the CX-5, the most buyers of which would place more importance on fuel-efficiency than raw power anyway. Towards saving fuel, the newer model CX-5 adds cylinder-deactivation, enabling it to run on only two cylinders when applicable.
The official fuel numbers of 9.8 litres of regular gas per 100 km in city and 7.9 litres on highway are competitive for this segment. Note also that while many of its competition have switched over to CVT, the CX-5 carries on with a six-speed conventional automatic transmission. This may not help with saving more fuel but ‘feels’ so much better.
With the base GX model, one can even opt for six-speed manual. However, that car is FWD only and is equipped with less powerful 2.0 litre engine. The GS and GT get standard AWD and the more powerful engine, but no manual transmission.
The GT test-vehicle starts from $35,100 minus taxes and other applicable fees. Tacking on the $1,600 Tech Package throws in such niceties as radar cruise-control with stop and go, smart brake support, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist, sign recognition, XM satellite radio, etc.
The CX-5 may not be the roomiest or the most practical vehicle in its segment, but for those who get enjoyment out of driving, this vehicle is very satisfying. Such caveat may not make it the volume-seller but sometimes quality trumps over quantity. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2018 Mazda CX-5 GT
As tested: $36,700
Engine: 2.5 litre four
Power: 187 hp/186 lb-ft
Transmission: 6 spd auto
Fuel: 9.8 litres per 100km (city), 7.9 litres (highway)
Best: handling, luxury ambience
Worst: less roomy interior
Competition: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, VW Tiguan
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