2015 Mazda CX-5: SkyActiv For the Win [Review]

2015, mazda, cx-5, review,specs, video
2015 Mazda CX-5

There once was a time when purchasing a crossover was like giving up on life. Out with the sporty, fun times – and in with the staid and practical times.

Thank goodness for the 2015 Mazda CX-5. It provides a sporty ride in an aggressive package, with all the practicality of a five passenger crossover.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2015 Mazda CX-5 $29,220 $31,760 184/185
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 24/30 Combined 26 21.5

The 2015 CX-5 remains unchanged, which is a good thing. The front end thrusts out aggressively and the fenders flare just a touch over the 19″ wheels. The side sills cut in at a rakish angle towards the rear fender, and the roof angles down into a rear spoiler. There is a nice style crease between the tail lights, and the rear is finished off with dual exhaust.

2015, mazda, cx-5, rear, hatch, review, lightsThe SkyActive-G 2.5L engine puts out 184 hp and 185 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The only way you can get a manual is to step down to the smaller 2.0L engine, which is only good for 155/150. The EPA fuel estimates for the 2.5L are 24/30/26. I averaged 21.5 MPG during my week of mostly spirited city driving.

Inside the styling is functional and good looking, yet still simple. There are not a lot of fussy design details that seem to plague many crossovers these days. Our Grand Touring test model comes with 8-way power drivers seat, heated front seats, Bose speaker sound system, iPod integration, Bluetooth, sunroof, backup camera, and blind spot monitoring. The only additional features for 2015 are the push button start and keyless entry.

2015, mazda, cx-5, interior, dashThe test model also came with the $1,425 optional Grand Touring Tech Package. This adds HID auto-leveling headlights, adaptive front lighting, auto-dim rearview mirror with homelink, and Smart City Brake Support, which helps avoid front end fender benders at lower speeds.

The tech package also includes TomTom powered navigation, which is by far the biggest problem found with the CX-5. The 5.8″ color screen is small and the graphics are dated. The touchscreen is slow to process inputs and the menus and sub-menus are not very intuitive.

On the plus side, the GPS will alert you to any known speed cameras, and if you spot a new one you can report it to Mazda right there from the navigation unit.

2015-Mazda-CX-5-GPS-2The rear of the CX-5 offers 34.1 cubic feet of space, but the 40/20/40 rear seats will fold nearly flat thanks to a neat trick. Once those are down the usable space nearly doubles to 65.4 cubic feet. It’s more than enough to load your camping gear or home improvement purchase. Should you have a few more things to haul around town, the CX-5 can tow up to 2000 lbs.

The CX-5 uses SkyActiv technology in its engine, transmission, and chassis. While not available on all Mazda models yet, this technology ups the ante when it comes to both capability and driving pleasure.

SkyActiv engines are more efficient and create less emissions, all while improving low and mid range torque. Additionally, the energy produced while braking is harnessed and used to power the electronics. This means all the power from the engine is used to get those wheels turning, not siphoned off to run the air conditioning or stereo.

2014-CX-5-(22)The SkyActiv transmissions all feature an advanced control module, which increases responsiveness and reliability.

The chassis in the SkyActiv models like the CX-5 are lighter and enjoy 30% more rigidity with an increase in safety. Additionally, the suspension makes these chassis more nimble at slower speeds and more stable at higher speeds.

So what does all this SkyActiv mean for you, as a driver?

It means you most definitely can get your zoom zoom on.

2014-CX-5-(17)The CX-5 is by far the most fun crossover in its class. The AWD makes it an absolute joy to throw into corners with abandon. The suspension is tuned a little tight, but that is part of the fun. The trade off is that you’ll feel more bumps in the road than you would in other CUVs, but it’s damn spunky that it’s an easy trade to make. The electric power steering is very direct and well weighted. Like other Mazda models, it offers great feedback from the road.

The automatic shifts smoothly but it does like to keep things on the lower end of the rpms. You can shift it manually and frankly, with only 184 hp motivating the 3,560 lb CX-5 that really is what you need to do for maximum enjoyment. Unfortunately it’s only shiftable from the stick. Paddle shifters are not available.


This is a fairly crowded segment, yet the CX-5 easily holds its own. The Honda CRV is less expensive by a few grand and offers close to the same mpgs, but is just not as fun to drive. You might want to look at the Ford Escape, which is offered with an EcoBoost turbo and a greater tow rating. Although not for sale at the moment, those wanting some capability on the dirt will more than likely gravitate towards the Jeep Renegade.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2015 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring an enthusiastic Buy It! There are many choices out there, but none are as fun to drive as the CX-5.

And life is too short to drive boring cars.

Check out the 2014 Mazda CX-5 in this high altitude 0-60mph test.

Emme Hall tflcar

Emme is a driver, reviewer, rabble rouser, and Gazelle who can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and either one of her blogs.