2016 Mazda CX-5: Versatile, sporty, fuel efficient

James Raia

The Mazda CX-5 replaced the Mazda Tribute and Mazda CX-7 in 2012 as a 2013 model, and it has succeeded quickly in the popular compact SUV segment.

For 2016, the Mazda CX-5 has been refreshed with minor interior and exterior upgrades, including improved materials quality, additional insulation and an improved technology interface.

There’s also improved and additional equipment in option packages. Some former options, including Bluetooth and audio connectivity, are now standard to keep up with improved compact SUV offerings from other manufacturers.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

With its new features and options and its availability in three trims with either all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, it’s likely the Mazda CX-5 will continue is impressive upward sales trend.

The 2016 Mazda CX-5 has been refreshed inside and outside.
The 2016 Mazda CX-5 has been refreshed inside and outside. Image © James Raia/2015

The versatile compact SUV, including my Grand Touring trim with front-wheel drive, reached sales of nearly 100,000 units in 2014. That’s more than double the total in the Mazda’s debut year. The vehicle’s versatility is one primary reason.

The base Sport comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and 60/40-split folding rear seat. There’s also Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and an iPod /USB interface.

The topline Grand Touring includes all of the above plus 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, heated front seats and leather upholstery.

Plus, my test vehicle also had Technology and i-ActiveSense packages. The former features a navigation system, the Smart City Brake Support System adaptive LED headlights, LED running lights, LED foglights, LED taillights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic headlights and automatic windshield wipers. The i-ActiveSense packages features i-adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beam headlight control.

Like an increasing number of vehicles, the technology approaches overload status. There’s a lot to learn, most of it worthwhile. But whether all of the options are worthy of the additional $4,000 is questionable.

The Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring model has a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower, the bigger of two options. It’s matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, and the combination works. With the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 as top competitors, the Mazda CX-5 finds its audience with sporty handling, precise steering and a quiet ride.

Further, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 also has strong acceleration for its segment and powers along with impressive fuel economy.

For cargo concerns, the rear seats fold flat (with the front seats moved forward) with easy-to-user levers. The total cargo space is surprisingly large, at least it was for my use while making several trips to local charities with garage and closet items from a late summer clean-up.


Fuel efficiency.

Comfortable, multi-position seats.

Healthy list of safety features.

Easy rear-seat configuring.


Sub-par stereo quality.

Small rear window vision area.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Mazda CX-5

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.0 seconds.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 26 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway), 29 mpg (combined) six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 184.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $28,220.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.mazda.com.
Price As Tested: $32,890.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“With practical matters like cost to own, size and fuel economy all neck and neck, the choice of your new crossover really could come down to ‘intangibles’ like handling. In that way I think the added driving joy of the CX-5 becomes a difference maker, even if the driver in question isn’t of the enthusiast bent. The added tech and quieter cabin won’t hurt, either, of course. — Autoblog.

“If you want a small, stylish, fun-to-drive SUV, you’ll find it in the CX-5. If you’re among the few who prefer a manual transmission, this Mazda boasts one of the best available in an SUV. Fuel economy of up to 35 mpg and a sub-$23,000 starting price are added icing.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“With its spacious, functional interior, impressive fuel economy and top safety scores, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is a top pick among small crossovers. The CX-5’s fun-to-drive demeanor is just a welcome bonus.” — Edmunds.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Newcomers have a tough go in crowded car segments. The small SUV market is among the most competitive, but in its fourth model year, the Mazda CX-5 has found a good market share with stylish looks, strong handling and good cargo room.”

Article Last Updated: July 27, 2023.

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