By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 9.5
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 marks the third model year for this compact SUV. Up against veteran competitors like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, it offers Mazda's Skyactiv technologies, which promise to combine fuel efficiency and performance. In the case of the CX-5, it succeeds and adds solid value and advanced safety features. In keeping with Mazda's sporty image, the Mazda CX-5 is actually fun to drive, and offers a manual transmission on the base model. After Mazda added a new and more powerful 2.5-liter 4-cylinder to the lineup last year, this year it carries over with few changes. Add it up, and the 2015 Mazda CX-5's combination of sporty style, fun-to-drive dynamics, and very good fuel economy make it a strong choice for those who don't want to see themselves coming and going.
If you demand that your 5-passenger compact SUV looks great, gets good fuel economy and delivers good value, then you should take the 2015 Mazda CX-5 for a test drive. Its fun to drive nature seals the deal.
While the bigger engine gives the Mazda CX-5 adequate power, it should be standard across all trims, instead of a step-up. The manual transmission is a rare treat, but it's only available in base model front-wheel-drive (FWD) versions.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 is mostly carryover from last year. The only notable change is the addition of Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry as standard equipment on Touring and Grand Touring trims.
With the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, the 2015 Mazda CX-5 offers up barely adequate performance, hardly what Mazda's "Zoom-Zoom" tagline suggests. Step up to the Touring or Grand Touring models though, and...
... you'll get the more powerful 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine. While it doesn't outperform competitors like the Kia Sportage turbo or Subaru Forester turbo, it's at least in line with competitors like the Honda CR-V, with good acceleration. If you like manual transmissions, you're in luck, as the Mazda CX-5 is one of the few SUVs available with one. We love driving the slick-shifting 6-speed manual, but it comes at a price: You can only get it in front-wheel-drive versions of the base Sport model, meaning you sacrifice a lot of the CX-5's creature comforts. On the road, the CX-5's handling impresses, with sharp reflexes and an ability to carve corners that's rare in the compact-SUV market.
SMART CITY BRAKE SUPPORT
It's rare to see an automatic braking system available in such an inexpensive vehicle, especially a mainstream compact SUV. At speeds of 3 to 19 mph – think heavy traffic, where there's a good chance drivers are distracted – the system automatically applies the brakes if its laser sensor detects an imminent collision.
Goofy marketing names are usually just that, but Skyactiv really does deliver on its promise of performance without sacrificing fuel economy. Skyactiv emphasizes a combination of factors, such as aerodynamics and lightweight materials, in addition to advanced engine technology.
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 holds up to five passengers, although like most compact SUVs, the 2nd-row bench gets cramped with three adults. There's good headroom and legroom in the front and rear seats, which are covered in cloth in Sport and Touring trims, or leather in the top-line Grand Touring trim. The driver's controls are all easy to find and use, but the Mazda CX-5 needs more storage nooks and crannies for small items like phones and wallets. The 34.1-cubic-foot cargo area is plenty big for groceries or suitcases, and the center section of the second row folds independently from the outboard positions to accommodate long objects without sacrificing the outboard seating positions, a handy touch.
The Mazda CX-5 was the first to embody the automaker's "Kodo – Soul of Motion" styling philosophy. The upshot of the fancy language is a compact SUV with elegant and muscular curves, with a slightly forward stance from the side that gives it an athletic appearance. The rear roof spoiler and dual exhausts are standard, adding to the sporty look. The base Mazda CX-5 comes with 17-inch wheels, while the Grand Touring trim gets 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. If you need more room than the cargo area can provide, an optional roof rack adds functionality.
All three 2015 Mazda CX-5 trims – Sport, Touring, and the range-topping Grand Touring – get stability and traction control, antilock brakes, and front, side, and side-curtain airbags as standard equipment. The Sport version gets push-button start, a 4-speaker audio system with USB input, cruise control, and the base 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Touring and Grand Touring trims add the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, along with blind-spot monitoring, Bluetooth, a better audio system with HD Radio, and a 5.8-inch color display with a backup camera. Grand Touring models add leather, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic windshield wipers, and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Keyless entry is now standard on Touring and Grand Touring trims.
All 2015 Mazda CX-5 trims are available with all-wheel drive (AWD) to enhance traction, with the exception of the manual-transmission Sport model. Otherwise, packages and options vary according to trim. If you order a Sport trim with an automatic transmission, you can add a Bluetooth package that includes HD and Pandora radio, along with a 5.8-inch color screen. Touring and Grand Touring trims offer the Smart City Brake Support collision avoidance system, as well as navigation, high-intensity discharge headlights, and adaptive front lighting. Front and rear parking sensors, fog lights, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a trailer hitch are also available.
The 2015 Mazda CX-5 offers two engine choices. The first, available only on base-model Sport trims, is a 2.0-liter 155-horsepower 4-cylinder that comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual is available on FWD Sport models. If you move up to the Touring or Grand Touring, you get a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which produces a more competitive 185 horsepower and is available only with a 6-speed automatic. All trim levels are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and both engines use Mazda's Skyactiv technology to get the most out of each drop of gasoline. However, unlike many advanced engines, the CX-5 runs on the less-expensive 87-octane "regular" gasoline. The CX-5 can even pull a small trailer, thanks to its 2,000-pound towing capacity.
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 26/32 mpg (automatic, FWD), 25/31 mpg (automatic, AWD)
184 horsepower @5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/32 mpg (FWD), 24/30 mpg (AWD)
Prices for the 2015 Mazda CX-5 rose a modest amount compared to last year, increasing $150 across the board, regardless of trim or drive configuration. The base CX-5 Sport with its manual transmission costs $21,545. Add the automatic, and that goes up to $22,945. The mid-level Touring models start at $24,965, while the top-line Grand Touring costs $27,970. All-wheel drive adds $1,250. Price-wise, the Mazda CX-5 is mid-pack when it comes to price. It's undercut by competitors like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, but right in line with the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. But the price doesn't reflect the intangibles that come with the car, such as the Mazda CX-5's fun-to-drive nature. Before you buy, be sure to check out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price and see what others in your area are paying for the Mazda CX-5. Residual value for Mazda's compact crossover SUV is expected to be good, although not quite as good as the CR-V, Tucson, or the Toyota RAV4.