By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The Mazda CX-5 is the automaker’s bestselling model and after a week test driving the 2018 version, it is easy to see why. The CX-5 is basic in what it does but it performed excellently.
Acceleration was great. Under the hood was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation. It made 186 horsepower and 187 lb.-ft. of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The fuel rating was 24 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined. That wasn’t bad for all-wheel-drive; there is also a front-wheel-drive version of the CX-5.
How does the fairy tell go? This engine was just right. The CX-5 had just enough power to push it passed wimpy. The 2.5-liter was quiet, the transmission was so smooth I couldn’t even feel it shift into higher gears beginning with fourth and it handled with rifle shot accuracy.
Inside there was a simple, clean, comfortable layout. Mazda is one of the best at designing an uncluttered dash. About the only thing you could see was the climate controls and they were beneath the central vents. Everything else was controlled from the infotainment touch screen or discretely placed buttons like for the seat warmers.
A tray at the base of the dash held a 12V plug. But another one was housed in the center console along with two USB jacks and an auxiliary jack. The seats were not plush but they were ample and comfortable. Instruments were black with white numerals.
I climbed into the back seats and was surprised. They were just about as thick or ample as the front seats. That’s rare. There was plenty of headroom and legroom was ample. But of course, the CX-5 was a crossover.
I was surprised again when I discovered two more USB jacks in the rear armrest. And surprised number three came when I discovered that the back seats were heated as well. Let’s forget the surprises but I was also impressed there was a power liftgate.
For 2018, the Mazda CX-5 got cylinder-deactivation on 2.5-liter four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine and blind spot monitoring with standard rear cross-traffic-alert. A leather wrapped steering wheel which I found was really nice and a leather wrapped shift knob. Standard 19-inch alloy wheels were now standard on my Touring model, automatic headlights; rain sensing windshield wipers were also standard on the Touring.
High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist, Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go function and Smart Brake Support and a two-position memory driver’s seat and 6-way power adjustable passenger seat were all added as standard in the Touring model that I had.
And that was just some of the new stuff added to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 which has a list of 250 improvements for this model year. At $34,685, the CX-5 seemed a solid buy.