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Auto review: A bit of good news courtesy of the 2023 Mazda CX-5

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

How rarely do we genuinely hear good news? It seems that most news sources delight in torturing their readers or viewers with journalism sure to outrage, titillate, disgust, annoy or anger their readers. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to hear something happy.

So, it’s with great delight that I can report that for 2023, the Mazda CX-5 crossover hasn’t changed, except for the addition of a white paint option — and that’s good.

Like other Mazda vehicles, this one punches above its weight. I had to pick up some friends in Palm Beach — friends whose own automotive corral is filled with names like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus and others. Climbing into the test vehicle, admittedly a top-of-the-line model, they were blown away by the cabin’s fit and finish for the price, with materials that seemed as nice as any luxury car. It’s a feeling reinforced by the CX-5’s clean contemporary cabin aesthetics.

At a mere 180 inches long and 72.6 inches wide, the CX-5 proves unexpectedly accommodating and roomy, with room for four, or five if they’re children or overly friendly. The cargo area is just as ample at 30 cubic feet with the rear seats in use. The roof is rated to carry 165 pounds when equipped with roof rails.

It was quiet and comfortable, with my friends comparing the CX-5 to vehicles that cost twice as much but aren’t twice as good. Padded surfaces and refined finishes are everywhere throughout the cabin.

A 10.25-inch full-color center display is artlessly plopped atop the instrument panel, controlled by a rotary knob on the center console and equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless phone charger, and Bluetooth. Given the cabin’s small size, a touchscreen would be more ideal, especially given the system’s clunky user interface that skewers an otherwise ideal driving experience. A stellar-sounding Bose 10-speaker audio system is standard on Premium and higher trim levels. Two USB ports are fitted front and rear, except on the base model, which only has them up front.


All Mazda CX-5s come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. In S, S Select, S Preferred, S Carbon Edition, S Premium and S Premium Plus trim levels, the normally aspirated power plant is rated 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Turbo and Turbo Signature models come with a turbocharged version of the same engine that puts out a respectable 227 horsepower and a massive 310 pound-feet of torque with 87 octane gasoline. Use 93 octane and you’ll get 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Most trims come with 17-inch wheels; Carbon, Premium and Turbo models have 19-inch footwear.

Standard driver assistance safety features include radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. Turbo Signature models like our test vehicle include traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors, traffic jam assist, and driver attention alert.

Thanks to its accurate steering and modest size, the CX-5 is responsive and fun to-drive, thanks to the powerful turbocharged powerplant. The automatic transmission may only have six cogs, but it makes the vehicle respond more quickly. But its athleticism doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort. It has a surprisingly calm, grown-up demeanor that doesn’t get flustered when thrown into corners, where it confidently handles the tarmac and keeps unwanted body motions to a minimum. Braking performance is excellent.

And it’s really quiet, surprisingly so. And while our top-of-the-line test vehicle broke the $40,000 barrier, it had everything you’d want, including a sunroof, heated seats and steering wheel, etc. But base models start at a far more reasonable $26,700 before destination fee, options or sales tax. That’s quite a deal.


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