2017 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Update 1: Shifting Upmarket

After spending a bit of time in the CX-5, I have to say I’m very impressed. Mazda is trying to shift upmarket, and it really shows. I recently went camping with my family and parked next to my sister’s 2016.5 model year CX-5. The previous gen is by no means an ugly car—in fact, its quite handsome itself—but parked next to our 2017, it looks about two segments downmarket. The general shape is similar, but my ride’s new face and bum are the most noticeable changes. They have been restyled to look more refined and mature, and they make the previous gen’s face look a bit too happy and excited. Its sleek new skin prompted my sister’s friend to say: “It looks like a Jaguar or an Audi,” which is exactly what Mazda was going for.

Read more about the design of the 2017 and 2016.5 CX-5’s design in this Refreshing or Revolting feature on the Mazda crossover.

The theme continues with the interior. Everyone that gets a ride for the first time is genuinely impressed and surprised at the CX-5’s luxurious interior. Fit and finish is top notch, and the design is classy and upscale. Mazda was proud to point out during the press launch that every single letter and number uses the same font. The door handles have even been reshaped to better fit a person’s hand. Small touches like that really make a difference. Everything your hand touches feels nice and soft, with only a small amount of hard plastic surfaces, especially in the Grand Touring trim. My hand naturally rests on the shifter while cruising on the freeway, and its leather wrap feels nice in my hand. So does the steering wheel. I let my roommate drive me around one weekend, and the first thing he noticed was how soft and supple the wheel felt in his hand. “I don’t even need leather racing gloves!” he said jokingly.

A week into my long-term commitment with the CX-5, I brought it to an Automobile shoot for Workshop 5001. These guys build resto-mod Porsches that cost upward of a quarter-million dollars and emphasize attention to detail and top-notch quality. One of their builders is in the market for a small SUV and asked to sit in my CX-5. He quickly assumed it was at least $40,000, but I assured him even in top trim, it falls only a few hundred dollars above his $30,000 budget if he skips out on AWD. I also managed to sort of keep up with them through tight and twisty Latigo Canyon Road in Malibu, I might add. I think it’s safe to say he was pretty impressed.

Let’s see if the CX-5 continues to impress as the miles start to pile up.

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