2017 Mazda CX-5 — Evolving Refinement

2017 Mazda CX5Model Tested: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Engine: Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter

Horsepower: 187

Torque: 185 pound-feet

Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed sport mode automatic

EPA Ratings: 23/city, 29/highway, 26/combined

Base Price: $30.695

As Tested: $34,085

Overview: The redesigned Mazda CX-5 crossover has evolved into something more stylish outside and quieter and more attractive inside — with so many small things improved, it’s impossible to list them all.

The Biggies: The 2.5-liter powerplant was tweaked, retuned and mated solely to a six-speed automatic transmission with front- or all-wheel drive — the manual is history. A stiffer chassis with more high-strength steel, plus Mazda’s brake-based torque vectoring system, which shifts torque to the outside wheels in corners, are all new.

Walkaround: While the changes are subtle, the CX-5 is the most unboxy, eye-catching crossover in this segment. The front pillars are moved back and the rounded trapezoid grille replaces the chrome bars with mesh that flows toward LED headlamps. There’s thinner black cladding, smaller rear taillamps and a chrome boomerang under the windows.

2017 Mazda CX5Interior: The CX-5 interior closely resembles the larger CX-9. Lots of little improvements — cleaner lighting, upgraded steering wheel, the shift lever moved closer to the driver, and more. But most noticeable is a new quietness, thanks to 100 pounds of new insulation. There’s also reclining rear seats, more rear shoulder and legroom for a couple of 6-footers, and rear doors that open wider. Behind the rear seat is 31 cubic feet of storage — 60 with the seats folded. Mazda’s approach to infotainment is basic. A 7-inch infotainment touchscreen rests atop the dash. It boasts sharper resolution than previously, but still reflects smudges.

Behind the Wheel: In spite of fewer horses than some turbo-powered competitors, the CX-5s performance is sharp, with confident acceleration; firm, precise steering; and strong braking. The transmission is programmed to stay in gear longer than some drivers may be used to under hard acceleration. Cornering is tight, with firm steering that’s not heavy, combined with torque vectoring, which makes incremental adjustments to the power and traction in individual wheels. Cornering, this improves balance, resulting in precise steering and handling.

Whines: The infotainment system is somewhat unintuitive. Operations like programming presets or entering destinations should be simpler.

Bottom Line: The redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5 nails it. It’s stylish, as quiet as a luxury car, and it handles better than any small crossover we’ve driven.