~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

Most crossover sport utility vehicles, now becoming the vehicles of choice over sedans, embody practicality and comfort for cargo and passengers. But some, notably the 2022 Mazda CX-5, also deliver engaging driving dynamics.

It’s not a track ready sports sedan. But it is the sort of inviting vehicle that entices drivers who hanker to get behind the wheel to simply experience the joy of driving.

That’s particularly true of the tested CX-5, which came in a version, or trim level, that is oriented as much toward performance as utility. Its formal title is CX-5 2.5 Turbo Signature AWD. Like all CX-5s for 2022, it comes standard with all-wheel drive, power flowing through a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Its grunt comes from Mazda’s turbocharged 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine.

In normal guise, running on 87-octane regular gasoline, this cheeky engine delivers 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, or the twisting force that rapidly propels wheeled machinery away from stoplights. If you’re willing to go with the added expense of slaking its thirst with 93-octane premium fuel, the horsepower jumps to 256 and the torque to 320.

On regular, the CX-5 Turbo has been clocked in the six-second range to 60 miles an hour. With premium, it’s likely to shave that by some tenths of a second. The EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption is rated at 22/27/24 miles to the gallon—not outstanding but understandable given the performance level.

With either octane, there’s no disappointment because the CX-5 Turbo Signature has been gifted with expert tire selection, and steering and suspension tuning, from designers and engineers whose priorities lean toward a balance between responsive handling and a decent ride—two characteristics that can often cancel each other. The steering does have a hefty feel—not unlike some luxury cars—so a driver can simply imagine driving a Mercedes or Bentley.

In the Mazda crossover lineup, the CX-5 slots between the smaller CX-30 and larger CX-50. It is the best-selling among half a dozen crossover SUV offerings by the Japanese manufacturer.

It’s not hard to see why. It has compact dimensions for negotiating urban traffic that nevertheless enclose a roomy interior. There’s 104 cubic feet of space for five passengers, about what you get in a midsize sedan, according to measurements used by the Environmental Protection Agency. Four of them ride in relaxing comfort with supportive seats. Only the center-rear passenger, as in most automobiles, gets disrespected.

In addition, there’s 30 cubic feet of space behind the back seat for cargo, which is about twice what you find in a midsize sedan trunk. Fold the rear seat and the space nearly doubles to 59 cubic feet.

The tested CX-5 came with a full suite of safety equipment that contributed to its overall five-star government safety rating. The five stars carried over to frontal and side crash ratings for both driver and passenger. In only one category—rollover protection—did it receive four stars. It also was awarded a Top Safety Pick Plus from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Standard safety items include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive radar cruise control with stop and go, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree rear monitor, among others.

Mazda has been working in recent years to advance its vehicles upscale with premium features, and it shows in the CX-5 Signature’s interior, which features Nappa leather upholstery as well as genuine wood trim. The front seats and outboard rear seats are comfortable and well shaped for fatigue-free support on long drives. There’s some engine drone at Interstate speeds but not enough to interfere with music from the SXM satellite radio.

The centerpiece of the dashboard features a 10.3-inch screen for infotainment functions, including Apple Car Play and Android Auto. However, it’s not a touch screen. Functions are controlled by a rotary knob on the center console, so it takes some effort to learn the operation.

For 2022-2023, the base Mazda CX-5 has a starting price of about $27,500, including the destination charge. The tested 2.5 Turbo Signature started at $39,875 and, with a few minor options that included gray metallic paint, topped out at $40,595.

Some buyers might find that a bit much for a small SUV. But it’s got bang for the bucks.

Specifications

  • Model: 2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo Signature AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder; 227 hp, 310 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sport manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet.
  • Height: 5 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: passengers 104 cubic feet; cargo 30 cubic feet seats up, 59 second row folded.
  • Weight: 3,855 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 2,000 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/27/24 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $39,875.
  • Price as tested: $40,595.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Mazda