Review and Test Drive: 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

By Jonathan Spira on 17 May 2018
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When it was introduced in 2012, the Mazda CX-5 compact crossover was a sea of firsts. It was the first to make use of the automaker’s Kodo design language, for example.  Introduced on the Shinari concept car in 2010, Kodo is something the automaker says is intended to serve as an expression of natural energy. Ikuou Maeda, Mazda’s head of design, said at the time that Kodo was intended to give the small carmaker’s cars “a new sense of presence and purpose.”

The Mazda CX-5 was also the first of the automaker’s vehicles to feature the complete Skyactiv Technology suite that includes a series of new fuel-efficient engines and transmissions and a rigid, lightweight platform that was first introduced in part in the 2012 Mazda3.

We last looked at the CX-5 in 2016, prior to the introduction of the current generation CX-5, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November of that year. While the CX-5 appeared to be all-new for 2017, it relied heavily on much of the previous version, although it received striking new sheet metal and a much-improved interior. The underlying platform is the same and it continues to use the tried-and-true Mazda 2.5-liter inline-four, albeit with cylinder deactivation, a technology that shuts down two cylinders during cruising to improve fuel economy.

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All levels of the CX-5 receive a plethora of standard and optional driver assistance technologies including a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert (both standard) and radar cruise control as well as lane-keeping assist, part of the i-Activesense package.  A leather steering wheel and shifter are also standard across the lineup.

DRIVING THE 2018 MAZDA CX-5 GRAND TOURING AWD

The results of the redesign were quite apparent when the Soul Red Crystal Metallic arrived at our offices on an overcast spring day. The new look was striking and elegant. Indeed, Mazda said it created the Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint to complement every curve and angle, explaining that it further uses changes in light to create a sense of movement even when the vehicle is standing absolutely still.

The new model is slightly longer and wider and Mazda’s engineers bestowed upon it a lower center of gravity that has a demonstrable effect on handling. On the minus side, the lower roofline has resulted in reduced cargo space.

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