Awards SUV of the Year

Mazda CX-5: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Stolen Limelight

Stolen Limelight

We Like: Gorgeous styling, sports car handling

We Don’t Like: Disappointing mpg, missing tech, lack of room

Mazda gets us. This is, after all, an enthusiast brand that also speaks to consumers, so when an SUV turns up that handles like a sporty sedan, we get excited.

“Mazda brings the fun, even to SUVs,” Alisa Priddle said. “The CX-5 is sized to appeal to a wide band of consumers. It accelerates nicely, tackled the winding course with vigor, and sounds and feels good while doing it. The back end wants to step out for an extra little dose of fun.”

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A touch too much fun for some consumers, we suspect. The CX-5, particularly the up-spec Grand Touring trim, is eager to rotate when cornering aggressively. Although stability control prevents things from getting out of hand, it’ll catch some buyers off guard. This is an enthusiast’s crossover through and through. And even though it lacks an off-road mode, the Mazda still did pretty well in the dirt.

Enthusiasts also appreciate creature comforts, but the CX-5 is missing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—those features are coming to Mazda products at some point, but they’re not here yet. The real-world fuel economy is also disappointing.

The CX-5’s biggest problem, though, is that there’s a better vehicle all around. From interior roominess to fuel economy to technology, the Honda CR-V outshines the CX-5—though the Mazda is prettier and more fun to drive. But when two or more vehicles in the same class show up to this competition, only the best moves on.

Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:

2017 Mazda CX-5 AWD (Sport) 2017 Mazda CX-5 AWD (Grand Touring)
BASE PRICE $26,485 $31,635
PRICE AS TESTED $27,405 $34,465
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.5L/187-hp/185-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 2.5L/187-hp/185-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,510 lb (58/42%) 3,699 lb (56/44%)
WHEELBASE 106.2 in 106.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.1 x 72.5 x 65.3 in 179.1 x 72.5 x 65.3 in
0-60 MPH 8.3 sec 8.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.3 sec @ 80.4 mph 16.7 sec @ 78.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 136 ft 135 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) 28.4 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 23/29/26 mpg 23/29/26 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/116 kW-hrs/100 miles 147/116 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.76 lb/mile 0.76 lb/mile