This week I bring you Mazda’s runaway best-selling vehicle: the stylish and fun to drive CX-5 compact crossover. In fact, in just reported December sales figures, Mazda says the CX-5 had its best month ever. Like the flagship CX-9, the CX-5 was redesigned in 2017, receiving praise for its well-designed, near premium interior and engaging driving dynamics. The next generation model could reportedly arrive in 2022. This year, the biggest updates are a larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen and new safety features on the range-topping Signature.
The 2021 CX-5’s modern and sleek exterior continues to attract buyers, five years into its current generation. My Machine Gray Metallic paint-hued CX-5 Signature model rides on 19-inch silver aluminum alloy wheels that sit under high wheel arches that accentuate the 7.5-inches of ground clearance. It’s equipped with LED headlights, fog lights and daytime running lights as well as adaptive front lighting. Black and chrome line the windows.
LED combo taillights are in the rear, along with a body colored roof spoiler and bright finish exhaust outlets. An optional rear bumper guard is $125. The Signature trim also features a power moonroof, along with heated and auto folding side mirrors.
A well-designed and crafted Caterra Brown Nappa Leather and black interior greets occupants. Leather-trimmed seats, real layered wood trim and silver accents give the cabin a premium look and feel. The front row seems roomy especially with the straight up and down soft-touch dash.
The 8-way power driver’s seat seemed on the firm side, with flat, narrow, and short seat cushions. Both front seats are heated and ventilated. The leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel followed suit in terms of firmness. Above it, an analog and digital driver info gauge cluster looks dated. However, the Signature spices things up with traffic sign recognition, and a red line denotes the speed in the tachometer. The Signature also has a nice windshield head-up display.
The new 10.25-infortainment screen delivers excellent resolution and understated graphics. It’s not a touchscreen. You control it with the rotary knob on the center console, by the steering-wheel controls or by voice command (which works great.) The responsive system sports a terrific high resolution backup camera, and like the CX-9, it’s now one of the best I’ve seen and that also goes for a now-3D surround view camera. Mazda Connect supports HD Radio, Aha, Stitcher, Pandora, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth. The 10-speaker Bose surround sound audio system is also notable.
The center stack provides two-zone climate and heated front seat controls. The lower console sports a leather-wrapped gear shift knob and your switch for the Normal and Sport drive modes, along with an electronic parking brake and auto brake hold.
Second row passengers enjoy heated seats with controls located on the drop down center armrest console. A portion of the armrest opens up to reveal USB ports and a place to put your phone. You get two USB ports in back, and two up front.
The CX-5 is short on cargo space compared with competitors. Its 30.9 cubic-feet of space behind the upright rear seats is less than offered by the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4.
The 2nd-row features a 40/20/40 split one-touch fold-down and reclining rear seatback, with a lever located in the cargo area. A rear power liftgate is also programmable height adjustable.
The CX-5’s optional 2.5-liter Turbo engine is a highlight. It delivers confident acceleration with its 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque (and up to 250-horses and 320 lb-ft of torque on premium fuel.) It’s not noisy, either. A six-speed automatic transmission is equipped with paddle shifters. On the downside, the CX-5 AWD lags behind some of the competition, including the CR-V, RAV4 and Rogue, when it comes to fuel economy, at 24 mpg combined.
Ride and Drive
Equipped with AWD and G-Vectoring Control Plus, the CX-5 delivers sporty handling and steering, and is both engaging and fun to drive. It definitely delivers on ride height, as well as a comfortable, quiet ride.
Mazda’s i-Activsense safety suite includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control with stop and go function, Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Front and rear parking sensors are also standard. Plus, new for 2021, the Signature adds standard Smart City Brake Support Reverse and Driver Attention Alert.
What You’ll Pay
This Signature, as equipped, stickers for $39,125. Other standard features include High Beam Control, push button start, remote keyless entry, automatic on/off LED headlights, and engine harmonics enhancer and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The CX-5 Signature remains at the top of its class when it comes to style and driving engagement. A new larger multimedia screen gives it a nice technology boost for 2021.
2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD
- What I liked most: Engine, Bose Stereo, Backup Camera.
- What I would change: Seats.
- MSRP: Base price $37,405, as equipped $39,125.
- Fuel Economy: 22 city/27 highway/24 combined.
- Official Color: Machine Gray Metallic ($495).
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,569 miles.
- Weight: 3,836 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 179.1” long/ 83.3” wide/ 66.1” high.
- Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.3 gallons with filler on the driver’s side.
- 2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature in a few words: A stylish compact crossover with a great Turbo engine and engaging driving dynamics.
- Final Assembly Location: Hiroshima, Japan.
- Manufacturers website: Mazda
- Warranty: 3-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty; 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.