There had been some lingering arguments. Whether or not it has lost its “edge.” An “edge” that was born out of the “Zoom-Zoom” marketing campaign.
When I think about the Mazda CX-5, I would have to look no further than in my new neighborhood.
Not that every house in Saint Paul has a CX-5 in their driveway – or in every parking lot of any given apartment or condo complex. It just seems that way. Over two generations, you can see how successful this compact SUV has been for Mazda.
There had been some lingering arguments. Whether or not it has lost its “edge.” An “edge” that was born out of the “Zoom-Zoom” marketing campaign. Whether it was lost in translation with a wide variety of trim levels in the brand’s climb upmarket.
When I took in a 2022 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD tester for a week, one word popped up as to measure itself in the face of a challenging new vehicle market – relevance.
Why “relevance”? The American automotive market can be fickle. Yet, is it really that fickle in the face of production and supply chain challenges? Do consumers have any choice but to take anything that’s available on any given dealership lot only to find that made the wrong choice out of desperation?
In a sense, the Mazda CX-5 is currently relevant. It has a track record of offering a lot for the money – even if it caters to both mainstream and upmarket consumers.
Think in terms of staying power when it comes to relevance. The CX-5 was introduced ten years ago. The current generation has been around for the past five years. Throughout the years, its owners saw it in two different points of view: An extension of Mazda’s sporting credentials or the antithesis of vehicles, such as the MX-5 Miata and Mazda3.
Needless to say, this CX-5 Signature is neither. It is a luxuriously practical compact SUV priced below $40,000 that satisfies all consumers.
For 2022, Mazda updated the CX-5 with a new grille texture, new LED lighting front and back, new bumper skins, and some updates in technology. Nothing Earthshattering, but in keeping with a familiar look customers expect from a CX-5.
However, it is starting to show its age. Not entirely by its own. Rather, from a new model Mazda just rolled out that is supposed to slot in the same size class – the CX-50.
I will address the CX-50 at a later date when V&R gets one in. This article is strictly about the CX-5. Let us continue, shall we?
There are parts of this interior that has not caught up with some of the updates it received over the past few years. The steering wheel, the overall dashboard design, and some switches are definitely aging. However, the instrument cluster and infotainment screen has caught up with current Mazda trends. Yet, it all seems to work. That’s all a consumer asks for, right?
The infotainment system gets mixed reviews from me. On newer models, you can actually use it as a touch screen. On the CX-5, you still rely on the Mazda Connect knob on the center console and the associated buttons around it. Its saving grace is the 10-speaker Bose surround sound audio system. If sound matters over functionality, then the CX-5 will do.
Another saving grace for the CX-5 is its Signature cabin with adult leather seating for four and its wide-opening doors. The front seats were comfortable and supportive. Fatigue was not experienced behind the wheel. The subtle contrast between black and a deep brown color combination inside is a calming feature that is welcomed on short and long drives.
Cargo space was fine. Though I wished for more length behind the rear seats, however it does have plenty of width. You start with 29.6 cubic feet with the rear floorboard up to the loading level. Eventually, that expands to 59.6 cubic feet of space all the way to the first row of seats.
Underneath the hood of this tester is Mazda’s most potent engine currently in the lineup: A turbocharged 2.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder engine that can spew up to 256 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive connects this engine down to the road. As much as I wish for more gears in the transmission, Mazda’s simplicity helps to keep the CX-5 in the game. It does so with ample performance and smooth shifting. The result is a fuel economy average of 24.4 MPG.
Ride quality was mostly smooth. It absorbs rougher surfaces the best it can. That, while delivering competent handling, and cornering. Steering input is just fine with a solid turning radius and response from the wheel. Brakes were fine with decent pedal action. The CX-5 exhibited solid stops in both normal and panic situations.
I mentioned before how you can still get a 2022 Mazda CX-5 for under $40,000. That mark has been scaled over by some of its competitors when equipped to the gills with luxuries and electrified drivelines. That is why this Signature tester came with a. sticker price of $39,875. This is the top trim of a lineup offering seven additional trim levels below it. Pricing for the 2022 Mazda CX-5 starts at $26,550. You can certainly find one at the right budget for you.
Yes, I’ve pointed out how dated the Mazda CX-5 has become after five years. Dated in comparison to newer models, including the 2023 CX-50. Yet, it is still relevant when you consider that consumer demand for compact SUVs remain vital even in a down automotive market.
Consumers have needs. They need space, performance, utility, and practicality. The Mazda CX-5 fit those needs. It still does.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Mazda North American Operations
All photos by Randy Stern