By Larry Lark, contributor
Mazda’s 2021 CX-5 compact sports utility vehicle continues to be an underrated performer in this competitive category.
The top-of-the-line Signature all-wheel drive model is the perfect case in point.
Starting with its modern design and energizing driving experience, the CX-5 includes many premium features as standard operating equipment, making it a value proposition as well.
The 2021 model year exceeds expectations with the largest-ever infotainment display (10.25 inches), new i-Activesense safety features, and a new, stylish Carbon Edition. It also comes in Touring, Touring Preferred and Grand Touring one Grand Touring Reserve trims.
My tester came with the available Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that generates 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with a quick-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission with manual paddle shifters and sport mode.
The CX-5 delivers power on command, whether climbing grades or making a pass on I-5. The CX-5 handles more like a car than SUV, taking turns and corners at speed with little body lean or complaint.
With a week’s worth of city and highway driving, the combination delivered just over 25 miles per gallon fuel economy. CX-5 seats five adults with a functional cargo area behind the rear seats.
Touring adds subtle refinements by way of heated driver and front passenger seats, leatherette seats with Lux Suede inserts and dual-zone automatic climate control. Occupants in the rear can enjoy the additions of air conditioning vents, center armrest and two USB charging ports. Other upgrades include keyless entry, and rear privacy glass.
Grand Touring adds a Bose 10-speaker audio system, leather seats, power moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power liftgate, LED taillights, fog and daytime running lights, adaptive front-lighting system, dual heated door mirrors and 19-inch brilliant silver aluminum alloy wheels.
Reserve adds the turbo engine, all-wheel drive, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic folding door mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer.
The top-tier CX-5 Signature includes all of the above plus advanced technology including traffic sign road recognition navigation system and sophisticated design. New i-Activsense safety features smart city brake support reverse and driver attention alert join the 360° view monitor with front and rear parking sensors now updated with high-definition digital clarity.
While G-Vectoring Control and front-wheel drive are standard, Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive with off-road traction assist is available on all trim levels.
CX-5 comes standard with the brand’s suite of i-Activsense safety features including radar cruise control with stop and go function, advanced smart city brake support with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist and blind spot monitoring with rear
cross-traffic alert. Other standard features include, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, high beam control, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio pairing, and two front USB inputs.
An added feather in Mazda’s cap, is “Car and Driver’s” 10-Best Award for the fourth consecutive year. The magazine judges on an SUV’s driving dynamics, design and value.
Base Price: $38,630
Price As Driven: $38,630
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.