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Daily excitement: 2017 Mazda CX-5 injects fun into compact SUV class

There are lots of different compact sport utility vehicles (SUVs) on the market nowadays. Each claims to deliver a fun driving experience along with plenty of practicality for families. Also, each entry in the compact SUV segment offers a manageable size that’s relatively easy to park on city streets while offering enough interior space to accommodate up to five people and a healthy dose of cargo.

But only one compact SUV delivers the Zoom-Zoom driving fun for which Mazda is known: the 2017 Mazda CX-5.

Exterior

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 wears the most attractive sheet metal in the segment, with a design that hints at the athletic chassis underneath.

Up front, there’s a sleekly designed seven-sided grille opening -- a trait shared with the rest of Mazda’s compelling lineup. Narrow headlight enclosures sit on either side of the grille, while a narrow auxiliary air inlet rounds out the design at the bottom. The hood sits relatively low and out of the way, and is attractively -- and minimally -- styled, with two creases running up either side, starting at the uppermost points of the grille opening. From the front quarter view, these hood lines become taller as they progress back toward the CX-5’s rakish windshield.

From the side view, there’s a flowing, gentle crease that seems to leak out of the headlight projector in the center of the headlight lens, flowing up and over the front wheel opening before descending down through the front door before eventually disappearing below the rear door handle. Door surfaces curve gently outward from the window line down to the door handles, then retreat inward until reaching a soft line just above the bottom of the doors. The glass area is large, yet elegant, with a top line that sweeps downward as it reaches the rear of the vehicle.

Out back there’s a sloping rear glass section on the hatch door, which communicates the CX-5’s quickness. That leads down to a character line that wraps around from the top of the taillights to the central focal point, the Mazda badge. Below, the license plate opening harkens back to the grille design, while a clean, smooth bumper design integrates dual exhaust tips.

Interior

Inside, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is designed with driver engagement and comfort in mind.

A thick-rimmed steering wheel looks like it was plucked from the MX-5 Miata and is pleasing in the hands. Behind it, a gauge cluster offers easy-to-read analog speedometer and tachomoter gauges combined with a digital display that gives the driver information about fuel level, range, economy, and more.

Atop the dashboard sits an infotainment display -- mounted high so it doesn’t require the driver’s eyes to look down, away from the road when momentarily switching radio stations or zooming in on a navigation map. The display is controlled by a multifunction dial in the console, just like the MX-5 Miata.

Front bucket seats offer a good mix of sporty grip and cushy comfort along with support in the right places. In the back, a bench seat has plenty of room for a couple of kids, dogs, or even your coworkers.

The cargo area offers a generous 30.9 cubic feet in which to pack your bags, haul your groceries, or cart home your latest project.

The heart of the CX-5

Under its hood, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 has Mazda’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. It produces 187 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 185 lb-ft of torque at as little as 3,250 RPM. Combined with the CX-5’s relatively lightweight 3,500-lb chassis, this power is plenty to get the vehicle up to speed without running out of breath, while the engine’s SKYACTIV technology also does its part to ensure decent fuel mileage: EPA rates the CX-5 at up to 31 MPG highway.

A relatively short final drive ratio of 4.325:1 makes it easy for the six-speed automatic transmission to keep that engine close to its peak powerband. The CX-5 is quick to spring into action when called upon, with passing power on-tap whenever you dip your toe into the throttle.

Meanwhile, the beating heart of the CX-5 has got to be its handling balance -- easily at the top of the segment, having won several magazine comparison tests for its deftness in curves and other sporty-driving situations. In a segment where steering wheels feel numb and disconnected from the road, the CX-5 actually offers some road feel and input resistance to the driver. Its steering is quick, too, with just a little more than 2.5 turns from lock to lock. Its suspension is adept at soaking up potholes while also minimizing body roll when the road gets curvy. It’s sporty without being overly harsh, as some vehicles are when automakers stiffen their suspensions in an effort to improve cornering.

The driving enthusiast’s best compact SUV value

Mazda believes this kind of everyday motoring fun should remain accessible, so the 2017 Mazda CX-5 carries a starting MSRP of just $24,045 in Sport trim. Step up to the Touring trim level, and the price only goes up to $25,915. A top-spec Grand Touring trim starts at just $29,395 and includes such nice features as leather-trimmed, heated seats with power adjustment for the driver. It carries a lot of content for a sub-$30,000 SUV.

Taking a cue from its baby sister, the MX-5, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 is the most fun-per-dollar you can have in the compact SUV segment.

Want to experience the 2017 Mazda CX-5 for yourself? Call us today to book your CX-5 experience!

2017 Mazda CX-5

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