Even Better: The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.
One of the surest ways into my heart is to be a good travel companion.  I've married the best human one I know, and in terms of vehicles, the Mazda CX-5 is certainly on the list.

It earned its place two years ago, when Mrs. TireKicker (known at the time as Navigator) and I took her two daughters to Southern California for a few days of fun and sun, museums and observatoriesa legendary restaurant, a then-endangered coffee shop and an Iranian ice cream parlor...oh yeah, and 16 hours at Disneyland.  And our ride for those four jam-packed days was the then-new 2016 Mazda CX-5.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.
Two calendar years and one model year, and the CX-5 is significantly changed.  That's very soon, but Mazda's engineers and designers had some improvements they wanted made sooner rather than later.

First and most obvious: The design language from the flagship CX-9, another vehicle that we're very fond of here at TireKicker, has been applied to the smaller sibling CX-5.  Beyond that, the CX-5, which has always been, like all Mazdas, more fun and involving to drive than other vehicles in its class, has been treated to some significant chassis improvements and standard G-vectoring control vehicle dynamic enhancement.  I didn't think there was room for improvement to the way the CX-5 drove before.  I was wrong.  The '17 is noticeably better.  The 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine with 187 horsepower is unchanged.  The EPA fuel economy estimate is 23 city/29 highway, which is less than the 26/33 of the '16 we drove on our Southern California trip, though that was a FWD model and this one was AWD.

2017 Mazda CX-5 interior.
The interior has been completely re-done, as well, with more pleasing and contemporary shapes and a lower profile, for better forward visibility.  The infotainment screen now looks as though it's midway between retracting into or rising out of the dashboard, but it's fixed in place, and is exactly the right size and in the right place.  One niggle that I've noticed in the past few Mazdas that was especially pronounced in this CX-5 is a fairly slow response time with the infotainment system.  Things like activating navigation or linking to Bluetooth devices the car already is paired with take quite a while.  It's kind of like (and this is a reference sure to date me) waiting for the picture tube to warm up so you can see the TV show.  Minor, but something Mazda should address, because I find I'm a lot more patient with that kind of stuff than a lot of people.

Our tester was the top-of-the-line Grand Touring, which has a base price of $30,695 and comes with a strong list of standard features, including 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, heated power mirrors with turn lamps, automatic LED headlights, LED fog and daytime running lights, a rear roof spoiler, bright finish exhaust outlets, rear privacy glass, a power moonroof, power rear liftgate, adaptive front lighting and high-beam control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, power automatic door locks, power windows, leather-trimmed upholstery, an 8-way power driver's seat (8-way manual for the passenger), radar cruise control, electronic parking brake, keyless entry, pushbutton start, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, a 10-speaker Bose audio system with HDRadio, rear-view camera, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, carpeted floor mats, heated front seats, an auto-dim rearview mirror and navigation.

Again: $30,695.  That would have been a Mercedes equipment list 10 years ago.

As for options on our tester, a cargo mat was $70, the Soul Red paint was an additional $595 (I'd say gimme a free color, but it looks stunning, especially in sunlight) a retractable cargo cover $250 (call it anti-theft insurance) and the Premium Package (driver's seat memory, a 6-way power passenger's seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, active driving display and windshield de-icer) was $1,830.  With $940 delivery processing and handling fee, the total came to $34,380.  We've tested this class of SUV with less content for as much or more money.

The Mazda CX-5 was one of our favorites to begin with.  The changes for 2017 are enough to seal the deal---earning it a spot on the TireKicker's Best Cars list on the right of this page.