2021 Mazda CX-5: new, gains on small SUV leaders

James Raia

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 has plenty of new features.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is the 10th year of the small sport utility vehicle. Except for the business-curtailed 2020 pandemic year, the versatile family hauler’s popularity has increased annually.

With seven trim levels and the brand’s top-rated reliability designation from Consumer Reports, the CX-5 and several of its stablemates have catapulted Mazda far way from its doldrum years. It joined Alfa Romeo and Volvo as the only manufacturers with increased sales in 2020 from 2019.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 has plenty of new features.
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 has plenty of new features.

The CX-5 was the country’s 21st best-selling vehicle in 2020 with 146,420 units sold. The Signature trim covers all modernized areas of the Japanese carmaker once maligned for its rotary engines. There’s nothing fancy or unique about the unassuming SUV, unless value, comfort and consistency count.

Beyond a majority of features from other trim levels, primarily the content from Grand Touring Reserve content, upgrades for the 2021 Mazda CX-5 include a larger (10.25-inch) navigation system screen, although touchscreen functionality is gone.

The new Carbon Edition trim is available with or without a turbocharged engine and adds a chuck of pizzazz: 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Black Metallic finish, black power-adjustable outside mirrors with integrated LED turn signals; black interior and door-panel trim; leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift with red stitching. Red or black leather seats complete the decor.

2021 Mazda CX-5: New, more features

Top-line comfort features include an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support and two-position memory and nd a six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat.

The navigation system upgrade through the lineup includes a 360-degree camera system and parking sensors. There’s ambient interior lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and wood trim for an improved in-vehicle experience. The automatic rear braking system engages if sensors detect an imminent collision. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and standard in 2021 but were previously options. Driver attention monitoring and reverse automatic emergency braking debut. All-wheel drive is available in all trims as a $1,400 option.

With its upgrades, the Mazda CX-5 is the best-equipped SUVs available in its price range. Most trims are equipped with 2.5-liter turbocharged engines with 227 horsepower. Gas mileage averages are 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 27 mpg on the highway. The price with all taxes and fees included is $39,225.

The Mazda’s upgrades are generous and complement a healthy standard features list sometimes not matched in high-priced vehicles.

Among its many standard features, the Mazda CX-5 Signature trim includes: Power-folding mirrors, a head-up display, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.

In its decade, the Mazda CX-5 debuted with modest sales of 43,000 in 2010 to more than 154,000 in 2019, its top tally.

Beyond its equipment, the Mazda CX-5’s increasing popularity is also a reflection of its sharp-handling, quiet ride and overall comfort. Acceleration is strong for the segment, with the 0-to-60 miles per hour standard in about six seconds.

As a smaller SUV in the small SUV segment, the Mazda’s sub-standard, rear-passenger space cargo capacity and its mediocre full efficiency are its only shortcomings. Diminutive rear-seat passengers won’t feel cramped but no one else will praise the SUV’s rear-of-the-car arrangements. The upside: on long hauls, the Mazda will be required to get refuel regularly. Occupants can use opportunities to stretch.

Space limitations aside, the Mazda CX-5 impresses, its long list of standard features to an upscale quality interior, its turbocharged engine option to sporty handling. Buyers with particular preferences can’t miss with any of the seven trims. None skimp.

The Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 have been the segment stars for years. Kia, Hyundai and Nissan in recent years have joined the class with top choices. But isn’t the competition refreshing? The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is now positioned with the others in the crowded, worthy field.

Article Last Updated: January 13, 2021.

4 thoughts on “2021 Mazda CX-5: new, gains on small SUV leaders”

  1. Why are you writing about the CX-5 as if it wasn’t one of the main competitors before the 2021 updates? And since when has the Ford Escape been considered a “segment star?” Sales numbers do not mean the vehicle is good. When comparing strengths/weaknesses of compact CUVs, the CX-5 has always been in the top 3.

    • Thanks for reading my article and for your opinion. That’s what makes the automotive world so interesting, different opinions.

  2. I just bought a 2021 CX-5, and this review is spot on. I was considering leasing German until I happened upon the CX-5, and decided to take a look. The best initial impression of the many, many vehicles I’ve purchased, and not one reason to return to dealer before the initial oil change, a first for me. I was previously a Honda customer for this type of vehicle, no more, I’m a Mazda customer now. Take a look, and I think you’ll like it as much as I do. Look at the deep blue mica, it’s gorgeous.
    Thank you James, for a spot on review!


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