In 2011, Mazda eliminated the Escape-based Tribute, leaving it without a compact SUV to compete in this growing segment. Fortunately, it only took the brand one model year to come up with the Tribute’s replacement, as it released the CX-5 crossover in 2013. In its first model year, the CX-5 had the agility expected of a Mazda, but it lacked in the power department with its 2.0-liter engine that produced only 155 horsepower. The following year, Mazda added in the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine to round out the powertrain offerings, plus it added in the new range-topping Grand Touring trim. As we venture into the 2015 model year, the CX-5 carries over unchanged with the exception of a little feature shuffling through the various trims.

I recently got my hands on the 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring and spent a week seeing what I thought of it. I am a Mazda guy, so I tend to have rather high expectations when testing them. Did the CX-5 blow me away as much as the Mazda3 did last year or were my expectations set too high?

Click past the jump to read my full review and find out.

  • 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    184
  • MPG(Cty):
    25
  • MPG(Hwy):
    32
  • Torque @ RPM:
    186
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    30510
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage

Exterior

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Plus, the Deep Crystal Blue paint coating my tester highlighted the body lines nicely.

As with all Kodo design vehicles, the CX-5 looks like a million bucks from the outside. It is sporty, yet elegant and really outlooks its price tag. On pure aesthetics alone, the CX-5 looks on par with the BMW X1, particularly from the front-three-quarter angle. Its front-wheel haunches, lightly scalloped doors, swooping roofline, and rear window spoiler all put the CX-5 on a level that few in its class can reach. Plus, the Deep Crystal Blue paint coating my tester highlighted the body lines nicely.

The Grand Touring trim level’s 19-inch alloy wheels, heavy-tinted rear glass, roof-mounted shark-fin antenna, and bright-finish exhaust tips simply added to the sharpness of this SUV.

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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My favorite of these goodies were the HID headlights that lit up the road beautifully.

Mazda made good use of the compact body as well, as it has plenty of ground clearance (8.5 inches) to roll over a small object on the road without ripping off the exhaust. The doors are plenty large and open wide to give everyone easy access to all five seats.

My tester also included the Tech Package, which adds in plenty of goodies to the outside. My favorite of these goodies were the HID headlights that lit up the road beautifully. Additionally, these HID lights included adaptive technology, which allows them to sweep left and right along with the steering wheel, giving you perfect vision as you go around a turn.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in) 106.3
Track, front (in) 62.4
Track, rear (in) 62.5
Length (in, with front license plate holder) 179.3
Width (in) 72.4
Height (in, up to roof, without roof rails / up to antenna) 65.7 / 67.3
Minimum ground clearance (in) 8.5

Interior

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Interior
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2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Interior
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2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Interior
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The cabin was the most surprising part of the CX-5 for me, as Mazda went above and beyond to give its small crossover a much more upscale feel.

The cabin was the most surprising part of the CX-5 for me, as Mazda went above and beyond to give its small crossover a much more upscale feel. Sand-colored, leather-trimmed sport seats offer up plenty of padding and the bolsters do their job of holding you in place around corners. The seats do get a tad uncomfortable on longer journeys, but they’re acceptable. Also wrapped up in cow hide is the gear shifter, the multifunction steering wheel, and the door panel inserts. Unfortunately, the dashboard is not included in the list of leather-coated items, but it is at least made from a soft-touch material.

Finding a nice seating position for myself was a piece of cake, as there were eight ways to adjust the seat, plus lumbar support. The passenger seat, on the other hand, was manual and only slid fore and aft, and reclined. The rear seats were okay in terms of comfort, and the 39.3 inches of legroom was plenty for my 16-year-old nephew. It would be nice to see a sliding feature on the rear seats that allows you to slide them forward for more cargo room and rearward for more legroom.

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Interior
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I took a cross-state weekend trip with myself and two others, and all of our luggage fit with lots of space to spare.

For hauling cargo, the CX-5 was surprisingly good. I took a cross-state weekend trip with myself and two others, and all of our luggage fit with lots of space to spare. If you need extra cargo room, there are latches in the cargo area that fold each seat flat in a 40/20/40 split.

In terms of tech features, the CX-5 Grand Touring really stood out. Standard in my tester was a nine-speaker Bose audio system with a 5.8-inch touchscreen that sounded absolutely awesome, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, heated seats, power windows and door locks, blind-spot monitoring, and navigation. For the price, I felt satisfied with the number of features the CX-5 included.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom, front/rear with moonroof (in) 39.0 / 39.0
Shoulder room, front/rear (in) 57.5 / 55.5
Hip room, front/rear (in) 55.2 / 53.7
Legroom, front/rear (in) 41.0 / 39.3
EPA passenger volume (cu ft, with moonroof) 102.3
EPA cargo volume, rear seatback up/folded (cu ft) 34.1 / 65.4

Drivetrain

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Drivetrain
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Under the hood of the CX-5 Grand Touring is the same 2.5-liter, Skyactiv-G engine that is available in the Mazda3 and Mazda6. In the CX-5, this engine delivers 184 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and this power routes through a six-speed automatic transmission. Sure, it’s not overly powerful by any stretch, but that was never Mazda’s intentions. What it does well is sip fuel. The EPA rates the 2015 CX-5 with front-wheel drive at 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined.

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
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The CX-5 is available with all-wheel drive, but in the sunny state of Florida, the only thing AWD does is eat up fuel, so no need for it here.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine type SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT
Horsepower 184 HP @ 5,700 rpm
Torque 185 LB-FT @ 3,250 rpm
Redline 6,500 rpm
Displacement (cc) 2,488
Bore x stroke (mm) 89 x 100
Compression ratio 13.0 : 1
Fuel system Advanced Direct Injection
EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy (city/highway) 25 / 32 (Auto, FWD)

Pricing

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
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Pricing for the CX-5 starts out at a low-for-the-class $21,545 for the Sport trim with the base, 2.0-liter engine and a manual transmission. Jumping into the Grand Touring model bumps the base price up to $27,970, and adding in the Technology Package tosses another $1,425 onto the MSRP. This package includes TomTom Navigation, HID headlights with auto-level, adaptive lighting, Smart City Brake Support, and an auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink. That $1,425 goes a long way in adding premium features.

My model also had a few extra options, including a cargo mat ($60), a rear bumper guard ($105), and door sill trim plates ($125), which brought the total before delivery to $29,685. After the destination fee, the grand total came to $30,510.

Driving Impressions

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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he steering wheel gave me plenty of feedback, despite being assisted by an electric motor instead of a hydraulic pump, and it was quick to respond to my input.

Driving the 2015 CX-5 Grand Touring was an interesting thing because it simply does not drive like a crossover. My time in crossovers has typically been met with unpredictable cornering and a general disconnect from the road, but the CX-5 was anything but that. Now I know that Mazda touts itself as a sportier manufacturer, but I must say that I thought that was just lip service up until now.

In the corners, the CX-5 felt tight and composed, and I felt very little body roll. Does it feel like an MX-5 in the corners? No, but it feels very secure for a crossover. The steering wheel gave me plenty of feedback, despite being assisted by an electric motor instead of a hydraulic pump, and it was quick to respond to my input.

What’s more, even though it was tight in the turns and responsive, it wasn’t overly rough on bumpy roads. It certainly wasn’t as comfy as a Range Rover, but it was better than expected. Noise in the cabin was acceptable, but there was some wind noise that slipped past the door seals and a slight drone from a rough highway.

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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While the CX-5 certainly craves more ponies than the 2.5-liter engine can produce, it was acceptable for daily driving. Hitting 60 mph from a dead stop took around eight seconds and passing on the interstate was no issue. Fuel economy was stunning, as it returned about 29 mpg after my week-long test was done, and I drove on what I would consider a "combined" cycle. That’s 2 mpg more than the EPA rates the CX-5 to deliver. However, I did find that the CX-5 does not do well at speeds over 60 mph, as the fuel economy gauge fell to around 22 mpg at 65 to 75 mph. I know that most cars deliver reduced economy at these speeds, but I felt it was a good thing to note considering the EPA’s rating of 32 mpg highway.

Overall, I ended my week with the CX-5 rather pleased. In fact the two family members that rode with me on my long-distance journey were pleased with it too, and another family member saw it and is now considering buying one. I say that is as good of a mark as any.

Competition

Honda CR-V

2015 - 2016 Honda CR-V Exterior
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The CR-V is revised for the 2015 model year, as Honda completely redid the front end and a performed a mild nip-tuck on the rear bumper. These visual changes take the CR-V up a notch and makes it more competitive with the sporty look of the CX-5.

Under the hood, the CR-V receives a new Earth Dreams, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This new engine mates to a CVT that helps the CR-V deliver an excellent 27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. the all-wheel-drive CR-V loses 1 mpg across the board.

The CR-V starts out at $23,320, but in order to come close to the features that my CX-5 tester had, you’ll have to jump into the $31,520 Touring trim level. Unfortunately, you still won’t get the HID adaptive lighting system because Honda doesn’t offer that as an option on the 2015 CR-V. However, it does have Honda LaneWatch, a power tailgate and adaptive cruise, three valuable features my CX-5 tester did not have. After adding the cargo area liner as an option, the CR-V’s build comes out to $31,722.

Ford Escape

2014 Ford Escape High Resolution Exterior
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The 2015 Ford Escape certainly rivals the CX-5 in terms of styling on the inside and out, but I still give the nod to the Kodo design of the Mazda.

To hit the level of feel-good stuff the CX-5 Grand Touring has, you need to look at the Titanium trim level, which comes with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers a respectable 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine mates to a six-speed auto transmission and delivers 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined, putting it slightly behind the CX-5’s EPA numbers. But as is true with many of these small-displacement turbo engines, the mpg numbers can vary greatly.

The Escape bases at $22,610, but to get into the Titanium trim you’ll need to part with $29,020. To get the HID lighting, blind-spot monitoring and rain-sensing wipers that my tester had, you need to tack on the 301A Equipment Group for an extra $1,735. Additionally, to get the rear cargo mat and navigation system, you have to select them as standalone options. This brings the total build to $32,295 for the 2015 Ford Escape.

Conclusion

2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring w/ Tech Package - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Honestly, the CX-5 checks off just about every box I want in a crossover. It’s plenty sporty, plenty roomy for people or cargo, peppy enough for my liking, fuel efficient, and handles more like a sports sedan. It is nearly perfect, but I have to knock it on cabin noise because the wind noise at 65 to 70 mph is noticeable. However, that is easily overcome by cranking up that awesome sound system. Additionally, the CX-5’s price is slightly lower than its competitors. Definitely do some shopping around, though, as this is a fiercely competitive segment, but the CX-5 needs to be on your list of models to check out.

  • Leave it
    • * Some wind noise at highway speeds and may get worse with age
    • * Its sporty driving characteristics crave for more power
    • * MPGs drop like a rock at 65 to 70 mph
What do you think?
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