As long as cargo space isn’t your main reason for buying a compact crossover, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 is an excellent, fun-to-drive choice.
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 pitches itself as the sportiest compact crossover SUV around, and it shows. This five-seater’s moves are poised and athletic, at least against its competitive set. The downside? Its interior, while beautifully wrought, is tight on space for humans and their gear, and its touchscreen infotainment is clunky at best, cumbersome at worst.
Overall, the 2018 CX-5 rates 7.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Mazda CX-5 is available in Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trim levels, all of which add a few goodies as standard for 2018. Under their hoods sits a 187-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-4 that can run on half of its cylinders in certain light-load situations for 2018 to reduce fuel consumption.
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Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive CX-5s are more balanced with less wag of the steering wheel under hard acceleration. The CX-5’s engine is buzzy but responsive and the standard 6-speed automatic gets the job done well. More impressive is the crossover’s steering—nicely weighted and full of feedback. CX-5s with larger wheels ride stiffly and let in too much wind and road noise, a tradeoff for this crossover’s entertaining feel in the twisties.
The CX-5’s interior is classy—more so for 2018 with a leather-wrapped steering wheel now standard on all trim levels. Materials are upmarket, especially in high-spec Grand Tourings with their soft leather upholstery and optional luxury features like a head-up display system and a heated steering wheel.
Rear-seat riders aren’t treated to a huge amount of legroom compared to rivals that feel a size larger, like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. The same holds true for thethe cargo area—perhaps this Miata of crossovers idea has been taken too far in some ways.
The CX-5 scores well for safety with top-notch results and standard low-speed automatic emergency braking on all trim levels.