The new engine is wrapped in the same familiar package we’ve seen for the past couple of years, but is exclusive to the range-topping Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trim levels. This particular test car was a Signature, which starts at $37,935 before options. For reference, a base, front-wheel drive CX-5 Sport starts at $25,395. Standard features on the CX-5 Signature include 19-inch wheels, LED lighting, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, proximity entry and push-button start, and a Bose audio system. Options on this Soul Red ($595) model are restricted to accessory items: $70 for a cargo mat, $125 for all-weather floor mats, $400 for illuminated door sills, $125 for a rear-bumper guard and $250 for a retractable cargo cover. The final MSRP comes in just below $40,000.
Our contributor Ben Hsu had high praise for the CX-5 turbo in our recent first-drive review. Now the rest of us have had a crack at it.
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: I love the CX-5’s looks and driving dynamics. It’s a sporty Mazda tailored to the crossover segment. This one, done up in Soul Red Crystal Metallic (what a name) and Signature trim with smokey 19-inch wheels, looks great. The Skyactiv-G four-cylinder with 227 hp (on 87 octane) and 310 pound-feet of torque makes for a brisk driving experience. In Sport mode, it’s almost more eager than I want it to be. The main downside is the interior. The materials are just fine, and the infotainment is a little clunky to use. It takes a few more moves than I’d like to change the radio station. Also, major demerits for not being able to put a rear-facing car seat in the middle. Considering young families are a target market for this, that is not ideal. Otherwise, the CX-5 is fun-to-drive, smart looking and a solid option in this segment.
Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: The Mazda CX-5 was already a contender for being the best-driving compact crossover, but this turbo engine clinches it. The throttle response is impressively quick and boost comes on so smoothly. The bountiful torque makes it a blast when squirting through traffic and blasting out of corners. The transmission shifts smartly and smoothly, and I never felt like I needed to manually shift. The only downside is that the engine is a bit loud. That can be fun when you’re caning it, but it’s a little annoying when you’re just cruising around.
The chassis and steering are just as good as in the non-turbo model, too. The steering is ultra precise, and there’s actually some feedback. The nose responds quickly and eagerly to steering inputs, and there’s minimal body roll. And the harder you push the CX-5, the better it feels. The one possible trade-off is the ride is mostly compliant but ultimately on the firm side. At least the CX-5 is fairly quiet, even over big bumps.
Unlike Greg, I found the interior a pretty nice place to be. The design is attractive and clean, and the switchgear feels great, especially the hefty temperature and infotainment knobs. Some of the materials could be a little nicer, and the interior is tighter than some of the competition. The infotainment is a little clunkier than others, but after spending some time with it, it becomes fairly easy. Overall, the Mazda has a strong cabin. But I may not be as bothered by all this simply because of how good the CX-5 is to drive.
Production Manager Eddie Sabatini: This compact croszzz … sorry, what?! I’m awake! What was the question? Right, the CX-5 is fine. Seems to have a bit of a derpy-duck face (especially in profile to three-quarter view), but inside it shines with a nice interior layout (Mazda doing well here), solid tech and a comfortable ride. It also has a surprising get-up-and-go demeanor and decent handling. I just have a hard time getting excited about compact crossovers. The CX-5 Turbo is a fine choice, though, if the segment doesn’t bore you to near death as it does me.