This second generation 2021 Mazda CX-5 has been around for four years now. In that time its competitors from Honda, Toyota, & Nissan have received updates. So can the CX-5 still hang with the crowds?
Engine – The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is available with two engines. A naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-cylinder and a turbocharged version of the engine. This 100th anniversary edition has the latter but you get two power outputs depending on what fuel you put in the tank. On regular fuel, it produces 227 hp & 310 lb-ft of torque (169 kW & 420 Nm). Use premium fuel and the numbers increase to 250 hp & 320 lb-ft (186 kW & 434 Nm). Apart from the Rav4 Prime with its 300+ hp hybrid powertrain, the CX-5 is the sporty one in this category. The Ford Escape 2.0T also produces as much horsepower but not as much torque. Thanks to that low-end peak torque, the transmission doesn’t need to downshift to get the SUV going when overtaking a vehicle. Gently roll on the throttle and the Mazda accelerates gracefully. Of course if you push your foot down all the way on the throttle pedal, the CX-5 gives you a good kick to your backside. 0-100 km/h is done with in just over 6 seconds.
But there is a price to pay for all of this Oomph. Fuel economy figures are not the greatest when compared to the competition. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Turbo AWD is rated at 8.7 L/100km (27 MPG) on a highway and 10.8 L/100km (21.8 MPG) in a city. During my time with the SUV, I averaged 10.3 L/100km (22.8 MPG) so at least I can claim that the official figures are achievable. Also, if you want the performance, you have to use the more expensive premium fuel.
Transmission – Swapping cogs is a 6-speed automatic transmission. Since the age of dinosaurs Mazda has continued to use a 6-speed transmission whereas the competitors have moved on to 7, 8, 9, or 10-speed automatics or dual-clutch transmissions. But while Mazda has stayed the course, they have refined this transmission to be the best 6-speed automatic on the market today. It is smooth to change gears but also quick when you need it to be. As well, it’s quick to react to driver inputs should you decide to take over shifting duties by using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Braking – Stopping the Mazda CX-5 are just regular brakes that you’d find on all other SUVs. However, Mazda has managed to make the brake pedal feel like what you’d find in a sports sedan. It doesn’t take much effort to bring the CX-5 to a stop in everyday traffic and it feels firm under harder braking applications. Automatic emergency braking is standard on the 2021 Mazda CX-5.
Handling – The way that the Mazda CX-5 goes around corners is what gives it its sporty credentials. Sharp and communicative steering provides feedback that you’d find on a sports car let alone a midsize SUV. Because of this, the CX5 gives you the confidence to drive it around corners at higher speeds than other SUVs. However, the heavier steering does not go light enough at parking lot speeds which may make it a bit tiring maneuvering the CX-5 in a tight spot. It’s not awful but more steering assist could be useful.
Ride Comfort – This being a more sporty SUV, the suspension is a bit on the firmer side than its competitors. It’s not so firm that it shakes our teeth but if you value ride comfort above anything else, the Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue might be better choices for you.
Potholes and road cracks are felt more at slow speeds rather than at highway speeds. You can still have long road trips or daily commutes without back pain but as mentioned, there are more more comfortable options out there.
Interior Space – When it comes to passenger space, the Mazda CX5 provides an ample amount. Front legroom is almost on par with the Toyota Rav4 but the CX5 offers quite a bit more headroom even with the sunroof. In the back, the Mazda doesn’t have as much legroom as the Honda CRV but it still has enough for taller adults like myself at 6’4”. Although my knees touch the back of the front seat behind my driving position, there’s an indent in the back of the seat so I don’t feel squished. As well, headroom is very good in the back.
Where the Mazda CX-5 lags behind its competitors is cargo volume. With the rear seats up, it can only accommodate 875 L (30.9 cu-ft) of cargo whereas its competitors offer over 1,000 L (35.3 cu-ft) of space. It’s the same story when folding the back seats. The CX5 only has enough room for 1,687 L (59.6 cu-ft) of cargo whereas the CRV, Rogue, & Rav4 offer around 2,000 L (70.6 cu-ft) of cargo space.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Engine noise is prevalent in the cabin of the Mazda CX-5 but I’m actually Ok with that. The reason is because Mazda engines don’t sound the same as other 4-cylinder engines. They sound as though they actually have power & muscle. The engine noise is not deafening – even when accelerating hard – but it’s always there. On highways, road and wind noise is well subdued.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – If you’re reading this in the United States, the 2021 CX-5 receives Mazda’s new infotainment system along with the new 10.25” display that was first introduced in the new Mazda 3 & CX30. This new system is much faster to load and looks much better than the older infotainment system. Unfortunately here in Canada, the 2021 CX-5 does not receive this new system. Instead we still have to make due with the old infotainment system that is really showing its age. It takes a good while to load on startup and the graphics are not as crisp & clean as the new system. Hopefully, we will receive it as a 2021.5 or 2022 update.
Other gadgets in this 100th Anniversary Edition include heated & ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel (but only at the 9 & 3 positions), a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep but not lane centerning, and blind spot sensors to name a few. There is also a surround view camera system but the cameras are SD not HD.
Interior Design – The Mazda CX-5 still looks modern even 4 years after its current generation introduction. This 100th Anniversary Edition makes quite a few changes to the standard Signature trim of the CX-5. This Edition adds red carpets & floor mats (which show up dirt much more prevalently), red Nappa leather with 100th Anniversary Edition crest in the headrest, 100th Anniversary crest on the key fob, and white leather on the center console & door panels. That white leather on the center console looks good but after a short while, the driver’s side knee pad will easily attract dirt & grime.
Exterior Design – The 100th Anniversary Edition makes a few changes to the exterior as well. It is only available in this white snowflake pearl paint, it has 100th Anniversary badges, and 100th anniversary wheel center caps. Overall, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is still a good looking compact SUV even 4 years on with no major updates to its styling.
Is the 100th Anniversary Edition worth it though? In my opinion, not really. It costs $43,550 CAD which is $1,500 CAD more than the Signature trim. The only major differences are the red leather seats, white leather console trimmings, red carpets, & white paint. You can get the Signature trim with the white pearl paint and all of the same gadgets for less money. In the United States, this trim will cost you $37,900 USD. Granted, the red leather and red carpets are not available on the Signature trim but black carpets are just better.
Overall though, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 can still cut it against the current competition. It may not have the cargo capacity of the Honda CR-V, or the bang for your buck as the Nissan Rogue, or a hybrid powertrain like the Toyota Rav4. But it’s still the best driving compact SUV, it has premium materials on the inside, and it still looks good. This is definitely a top 3 contender for those looking to buy a compact SUV.
Thank you to Mazda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mazda.ca