Crossover Favorite Gets Updates Where They Count Most
Mazda has been listening to what customers and journalists have been saying about the CX-5 crossover. For 2014, it answered our pleas for more power with an available 184-hp, 2.5-liter I-4. For the 2016 model year, the automaker is addressing the other two big gripes about the CX-5: its dull interior and dated infotainment system. In addition, the already handsome exterior design gets a face-lift.
The first thing you’ll notice about the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is the redesigned “eye-like” headlights. Those lamps receive three-dimensional elements within the housings and also feature LED accents when the Technology package is selected. Those accents recall the lighting elements first seen on the global Mazda2, likely hinting that we’ll see the same design cue on other future Mazdas. The second big change was made to the grille area. Horizontal slats replace the mesh pattern used on the current model, and the front fascia is revised, as is the rear with redesigned taillights. LED units are available with the Tech package. A new set of 19-inch alloy wheels is available, and two new exterior colors, Titanium Flash Mica and Sonic Silver Metallic, are added.
But perhaps the most welcome aesthetic changes take place inside the cabin. The center stack has been completely redesigned, highlighted by the Japanese automaker’s new Mazda Connect infotainment system. Just as it does in the Mazda3, the touchscreen- and knob-operated system can pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth to access certain functions such as Internet connectivity, text message-reading, social media updates, and apps including Aha, Stitcher, and Pandora streaming radio. The whole cabin follows Mazda’s Human-Machine Interface and Heads-up Cockpit concepts, which helps make the refreshed crossover’s interior more driver-centric. The seats have been redesigned, gaining longer seat cushions in the rear and improved comfort and support in the front. The parking brake lever has been replaced by an electrical parking brake switch. In addition, cabin materials have been upgraded, with new fabric seat centers added on models with cloth seats and three types of decorative inserts for the instrument panel available, including an aluminum look with a vertical hairline finish and a thin satin chrome strip, metallic finish, and piano black styles. Leather interior color choices include black and a new Parchment off-white. Mazda says cabin noise has been reduced by 10 percent at highway speeds, and NVH tuning in general has been improved.
Powertrains remain unchanged and still include the base 2.0-liter Skyactiv I-4 making 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. The optional 2.5-liter Skyactiv gas engine continues to make 184 hp and 185 lb-ft. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are still available, but the automatic gets an upgrade for 2016. The Skyactiv Drive automatic gains selectable driving modes, which Mazda says “brings greater pleasure to driving.” The suspension has been revised, as well, receiving a new structure for the front and rear dampers, along with new bushings for the front lower control arms. All-wheel drive continues to be available for the Mazda CX-5, and the system has been updated to yield better real-world fuel economy. The automaker hasn’t released numbers for the all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter model, but the 2016 CX-5 2.5-liter AWD retains its rating of 24/30 mpg city/highway. The front-drive 2.5-liter model sees a slight bump of 1 mpg in fuel economy at 26/33 mpg, compared to the 25/32 mpg rating of last year’s model.
For safety, the 2016 Mazda CX-5 gains more available i-Activesense technology, including Mazda Radar Cruise Control and Smart Brake Support. The former system is a type of adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance between you and the car in front. Smart Brake Support detects when a frontal collision is imminent and can automatically apply the brakes and reduce engine output.
The Mazda CX-5 didn’t need much to begin with, and these updates could go a long way in making this staff favorite an even better pick. We’ll find out for sure as soon as we get our hands on one sometime after the Los Angeles Auto Show.