The 2018 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine producing 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. The output is distributed via a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive can be configured for all trims. Even with the most expensive trim, the engine’s acceleration was decent. Overtaking at a highway pace was not always successful. The 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds was still quick among its competition, but a more potent engine option could supplement its performance. On the bending roads, the CX-5 handled superbly with its agility and well-tuned steering. Body roll was nonexistent and its cornering ability was accurate and immediate. The steering was definitely tuned for sporty driving and there was progressive feedback from the pavement. It was also responsive, allowing the driver to change the direction of the vehicle with urgency. The brakes performed dependably, with its linear and predictable stopping force. It stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is an expected figure in its category. The pedal was firm enough and made it easy to control the bite.
The base Sport trim comes standard with LED headlights, Bluetooth, two USB ports, an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, a four-speaker sound system as well as several advanced safety and driver aids. The Sport i-Activsense package includes rain-activated wipers, more advanced safety elements, and driver aids. The Touring trim builds off of the Sport with automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver seat, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, two more USB ports and a six-speaker sound system. The Sport i-Activsense package comes standard with this trim. The Touring Preferred package adds a power liftgate, navigation, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. The top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim comes with all the standard and optional equipment from the Touring trim. It also includes driver seat memory settings, power-adjustable passenger seat, satellite radio and LED foglights and taillights. The Touring Premium package adds a heads-up display, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats and a wiper de-icer.
The 2018 CX-5 model was tested by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It received five stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and four stars in the rollover test. Overall, it achieved a four-star safety rating from the NHTSA. It was also tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it scored the highest marks for crashworthiness and crash avoidance and mitigation. Thus, it earned the 2018 Top Safety Pick+ recommendation from the IIHS. The advanced safety and driver aids that come standard with the base trim include a rearview camera, forward collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Additional features are added through packages and they are automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and an upgraded forward collision warning and mitigation.
The 2018 CX-5 model has a length of 179.1 inches, a width of 72.5 inches, a height of 65.3 inches and a wheelbase of 106.3 inches. The CX-5 looks like a more compact version of its bigger sibling in Mazda’s SUV lineup, the CX-9. The front fascia is dominated by the massive grille and horizontal lines from the sleek headlights and the bumper. The overall design is restrained and looks more expensive than it actually is. The base trim comes standard with 17-inch wheels while the succeeding trims come with 19-inch wheels. The sunroof only becomes available starting with the midrange trim.
Entering the cabin did not require much effort despite the slightly tall ride height because the door sills are low enough. The doors opened wide to reveal amply sized openings, but the rear ones are narrower than the front. Headroom and legroom for the front row are generous enough but not for the rear passengers. The legroom is limited and headroom isn’t as spacious because of the lower roofline. Up to five people can be accommodated inside with the two rows of seats. The front seats were soft enough and ergonomic, but the side support was easily diminished during sharp cornering. The rear seats are flat and induced fatigue during long trips. Despite the sporty traits of its handling, the firm suspension provided enough cushioning from road imperfections. The ride wasn’t harsh and felt stable in smooth surfaces. Apart from the engine note during increased acceleration, road and wind noise did not affect the atmosphere inside the cabin.
There is 30.9 cu-ft of space behind the second row of seats, and folding them down reveals 59.6 cu-ft of space available for cargo.