Mazda is on a mission is to move its models upmarket. Powertrain upgrades to the now-more-svelte 6 sedan and an output increase to the MX-5 Miata roadster are a step in the right direction. And now the CX-5 follows suit, as it nabs the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine from the larger CX-9 (it’s also available as an option on the 6).
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What’s clear is that the CX-5 maintains its place atop the throne of fun-to-drive crossovers, however, its upgrades (and some lack thereof) don’t drastically increase the already-likable crossover’s mass appeal. At least, not to some of Motor1.com’s editors.
It’s hard to hate the Mazda CX-5 Signature. In fact, save for its outdated-looking infotainment system and near useless gauge cluster screen (it measures a sizeable 7.0 inches and displays minute details that a far smaller screen can convey), Mazda’s compact crossover is a joy in almost every way imaginable. It looks great, it drives great, and it feels great.
The same stands for the CX-5’s handling dynamics, which near-perfectly blend passenger comfort with driving engagement. Opting for the CX-5 Signature or the lesser Grand Touring Reserve, of course, adds an extra sprinkling of spice to the performance mix courtesy of a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four, which replaces the more mundane 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that comes standard.
Plucked from the larger CX-9, and also available in the mid-size 6 sedan, the forced induction four’s 310 pound-feet of torque help the CX-5 scoot off the line with vigor. And thanks to its standard all-wheel-drive system and quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, the turbocharged CX-5 ably passes slower moving traffic.
But really, the CX-5 Signature simply feels great. Literally. Every switch and knob moves with the tactility of pieces typically found in luxury vehicles. Additionally, high-quality materials line the interior, and the handful of lower quality bits reside low in the cabin and are not typical touchpoints.
Often times, driving enjoyment comes with a compromise. This isn’t the case with the CX-5, which manages to combine behind-the-wheel excitement with good looks, a relatively affordable price, and luxurious interior appointments.