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Sunday Drive: 2022 Mazda CX-5 hits sweet spot in the mid-sized SUV category

By Craig and Deanne Conover - | Jun 18, 2022
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The exterior of the 2022 Mazda CX-5.
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The interior of the 2022 Mazda CX-5.
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The interior of the 2022 Mazda CX-5.
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The interior of the 2022 Mazda CX-5.
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The exterior of the 2022 Mazda CX-5.

Just over five years ago, Mazda made their best-selling SUV model even better with a redesign, coming up with what we would consider an almost perfect combination of small utility vehicle and sports car in an SUV package. The CX-5 has now gotten even better on the sports car side, with the 2022 version having received an increase in turbo-charged power from 250 to 256 horsepower.

The CX-5 is sporting a new look up front with smaller LED headlamps and the trapezoidal Mazda grill placed at a slight forward angle, complementing the now longer front wing overhang. With the rear sporting a new shoulder line, the design keeps the upscale look of the CX-5 intact. These design details, along with the fantastic cabin upgrades, should put this new little Ute at the top of anyone’s list when looking into this category.

We love having any Mazda, and our time with the CX-5 was no exception. We took it on a very long Saturday afternoon drive up through Provo Canyon and all around the Heber Valley, even encountering some late spring snow in the town of Midway.

The CX-5 accounts for one quarter of Mazda’s total worldwide sales, and after a week with redesigned Ute, it was easy to see why so many are buying and enjoying this small SUV.

Mazda points out that the CX-5 is designed on the exterior to catch the eye, not the wind. Of course, wanting to get every possible mile out of every gallon, we had to agree that it was a very pleasing car to look at and to drive. The sheet metal is sculpted to allow the wind to slip by the car, and the weight has been shifted rearward to give the Mazda more stability and keep its aggressive appearance.

At the center of this obsession to detail is what Mazda terms Skyactiv Technology. One might have noticed this emblem on all Mazdas produced in the recent past (at least since 2011). So, what exactly does Skyactiv Technology mean to the common man? The simple answer is that it is the brand name for a series of technologies developed to increase fuel efficiencies and engine output along with new technology in transmission and body design.

It seemed to us at the end of the week that all these new technologies really added up to making a great small SUV, no matter what Mazda wants to call them. We agreed that it is a cool name and seems to appeal to buyers in the market as proven by Mazda sales numbers.

Originally, the CX-5 came with only one engine choice: a 2.5-liter offering, which managed a nice 187 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. However, with the 2020 model year, the company has added a turbo-charged 2.5-liter power plant. After a week with the Mazda, we averaged 27 miles per gallon, up 3 mpg from the last time we drove the SUV.

It was very noticeable from the moment we drove the new Signature edition as its spirit and responsiveness were vastly improved from the non-turbo engine we had driven in the past.

The interior of the vehicle is where Mazda designers have really outdone themselves through redesigning most of the cabin and adding all the right things in all the right places. Becoming the focal point in the cabin is the available 8-inch LED screen with what Mazda calls a Multifunction Commander Control. This turned out to be a knob in the center console that was somewhat like an Audi or BMW in the way it worked. With this upgrade, however, they have taken away the touchscreen functionality. We did find it easier to engage the screen via the dial on center console anyway as the screen was just a little too far out of reach.

This knob controlled all functions in the CX-5 from navigation to radio and the Bluetooth phone connection. One of our only complaints was that it was difficult to get through the navigation menus using voice control, requiring us to pull over to set destinations. We found it easier to use Apple CarPlay with our phones connected via a wire if we wanted to put in a specific destination.

The seats were leather trimmed in a beautiful caturra brown color and heated in the front row, making the colder spring mornings very manageable. The designers also included soft-touch materials throughout the cabin where our hands, arms or even legs might need a place to rest.

The Bluetooth was easy to connect, with our phones taking about 30 seconds to complete the process, and it worked seamlessly throughout the week both with phone calls and music. The CX-5 also came with an HD radio and SiriusXM radio. The upgraded Bose audio sound system was concert quality.

Of course, the CX-5 featured keyless entry and pushbutton start, a powered nine-way driver’s seat with lumbar control, and a total of four USB ports — two up front and two in the back.

Also included with the Signature trim were driver’s seat memory, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a six-way power passenger seat and a full-color heads-up display! The new display works in conjunction with the navigation to put traffic signs right on the windshield where they can be viewed easily along with speed, navigation and other pertinent information.

There were also some very nice 19-inch bright silver finish wheels that rounded out the exterior package. They helped us get even more looks as we motored around in the CX-5. The gray color was beautiful; however, over the years, we have fallen in love with the Mazda red!

The CX-5 needs to be on anyone’s list who is looking for a smaller SUV that is sporty and can be had in a trim level that a few years ago would have cost thousands more to get the creature comforts and safety features that can be had in today’s CX-5. It is a great value for the price and deserves a look.

Base price: $38,650

Destination charge: $1,225

Price as driven: $39,875


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