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2021 Mazda CX-5 Review

Stephen Rivers

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 takes everything you love about the Mazda 3 and adds more space, a bit more height, and some utility without losing its edge.

What’s New for the 2021 Mazda CX-5

Introduced in 2017, the CX-5 has never been better than it is in 2021 thanks to a slew of new upgrades including a large 10.3-inch infotainment system that comes with a WiFi hotspot as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard. Mazda created a new trim level called Carbon for 2021 that includes some special paint, wheel options, and they’ve added some small but important touches around the car as well. The Signature trim level gets automated reverse collision mitigation, a higher resolution 360-degree camera, and driver attention alert. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 can be remotely monitored now with a mobile application that allows for remote control like locking and unlocking.

2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda CX-5 – news.mazdausa.com |  Shop 2021 Mazda CX-5 on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $26,545

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

25 City / 31 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Athleticism and luxury at this price

Dapper styling that’s a step above the rest

Interior quality feels expensive

Impressive electrically assisted steering

Cargo space leaves something to be desired

The infotainment screen isn’t a touch screen

Rear seat legroom is not intended for tall adults

Better modularity in the rear seat/cargo space

2021 Mazda CX-5

Trims & Pricing

Sport - $26,545
Touring - $28,285
Carbon - $30,130
Carbon Turbo - $31,935
Grand Touring - $31,735
Grand Touring Reserve - $36, 560
Signature - $38,680

2021 Mazda CX-5 Powertrain

2021 Mazda CX-5 2.5L I4 - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 2.5L I4 - carsforsale.com

Drivers of the base 187 horsepower CX-5 will feel like they have a perfectly adequate engine on their hands, so long as they don’t have a go in the turbocharged mill. That’s not to say that it’s bad though. It’s quite peppy and nimble, especially in a congested cityscape. Where it starts to give ground is any time the road opens up and calls to the driver for a bit more engagement.

That’s where the turbocharged 4-cylinder comes into its own and in unison with the outstanding suspension makes the CX-5 feel so much smaller than it actually is. Mazda has found a way to give the CUV a comfortable yet confidence-inspiring handling ability practically nothing else in the segment has. Sincerely, the only vehicle that comes to mind in the same conversation is a Porsche Cayenne and it costs twice as much.

2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com

Both engines work their magic through a 6-speed automatic transmission and we highly recommend optioning for the all-wheel-drive model, because it is far more balanced than the purely front-wheel version. We’re also highly impressed by the electric-assisted steering rack. Where most others are seemingly filled with Novocain, the CX-5 might have some Adderall in the rack because it’s crisp, clear, and eager to communicate what’s happening between the tire and the road surface.

Fuel Economy & MPG

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 comes with some solid ratings in terms of efficiency with 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. That’s competitive with everything else in the segment, but what’s impressive is that it seems like they might be underrated. Most users are reporting a mile or two per gallon higher than these ratings and that seems to be the case regardless of whether you choose the all-wheel-drive or the front-wheel-drive.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

While the drivers in the bunch will appreciate how well the CX-5 handles, those with an appreciation for luxury will absolutely love the inside of this CUV. Shut the door and it sounds and feels like a purebred luxury car. The seats are beautifully appointed and are highly adjustable. Whether cruising or carving they’re supportive too. Fit and finish throughout the vehicle are also wonderful. Mazda makes it clear that the bar is higher than ever for this segment. Compare this to any domestic CUV that’s priced similarly and you’ll feel like you’re watching a college team play professional all-stars.

Part of that success is how Mazda manages space inside the CX-5. The large screen combined with the smaller interior space actually makes everything feel more like you’re surrounded by a cocoon of luxury. Even the rear seat occupants get high-quality touch materials and seating. It is a bit cramped for taller folks, but anyone sub-6-foot should be comfortable back there even on longer trips. Cargo space is a bit smaller than most other competitors, but once the rear seats are folded down there’s more than enough space for almost anything one could want to haul around.

Entertainment & Technology

2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com

Allowing all trim levels to be sold with the new 10.3-inch infotainment screen as standard really elevates the CX-5 above its rivals quickly. Take a look at other base-level offerings and you’ll notice a trend of low-tech sub-8-inch screens all over the place. While we wish Mazda would make this screen touch-sensitive, it’s still an outstanding interface that allows for easy use thanks to a great interface and logical design. Technology doesn’t stop there though as the CX-5 also comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard.

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Drivers will also love the voice controls that are based on natural speech so there’s no need to switch into your more thoughtful and robotic speech patterns that other less intuitive systems require. Navigation is also a breeze and demonstrates how simple these sorts of features should be across the board.

Safety Features

The IIHS has named the CX-5 a top safety pick and the NHTSA has also awarded a 5-star crash test rating, both hard to come by for smaller CUVs. What we love to see too is that Mazda is clearly committed to providing safety regardless of how much you spend since the entire trim lineup gets safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation (not just a warning, that’s important), and forward collision mitigation.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Trims & Pricing

2021 Mazda CX-5 Sport - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Sport - carsforsale.com

Sport – $26,545

As the base CX-5, the sport still gets the 10.3-inch infotainment screen, LED headlights, push-button start, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and two USB ports. Other standard features include 17-inch wheels, front-wheel-drive, and the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Touring - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Touring - carsforsale.com

Touring – $28,285

Optioning for the Touring trim level gives the CX-5 a splash of luxury for not much extra money. Buyers get keyless entry, two more USB ports for the rear seats, two more speakers (6 total), heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and the driver seat is now power operated.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Carbon - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Carbon - carsforsale.com

Carbon – $30,130

A new trim level for this year, the Carbon package adds the “Preferred SV” package which is an option on the Touring package. It includes a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, a sunroof, a power liftgate, leather, a power-adjustable passenger front seat, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and driver seat memory controls. You’ll also get special tweaks like 19-inch wheels, and a “polymetal” gray paint color with red interior accents.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo - carsforsale.com

Carbon Turbo – $31,935

Take everything we’ve mentioned about the Carbon trim level and drop the turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder under the hood. No other changes.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring - carsforsale.com

Grand Touring – $31,735

The Grand Touring trim level takes everything from the Touring package and adds the same SV Preferred package as the Carbon package but the 19-inch wheels are different. In addition, owners get adaptive headlights, Satellite Radio, heated mirrors, a more featureful gauge cluster, and paddle shifters.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve - carsforsale.com

Grand Touring Reserve – $36,560

Now the all-wheel-drive system and the turbocharged engine are standard. The Reserve also adds on an optional package available to Grand Touring owners called the GT Premium package. It includes heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, power-folding mirrors, a heads-up display, and a heated steering wheel.

2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature - carsforsale.com
2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature - carsforsale.com

Signature – $38,680

For the additional $3,100 or so the Signature trim level gets everything already mentioned in the GT Reserve and adds real wood trim, a navigation system, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, ambient interior lighting, and special gray wheels. Additional safety features also make their way into the CX-5 including a high-res 360-degree top-down camera view, parking sensors, and automatic rear braking in the event of an impending collision.

Warranties

The CX-5 comes with a limited warranty of 3 years or 36,000 miles and a powertrain warranty that covers 5 years or 60,000 miles. Unlike some other companies, Mazda doesn’t offer any sort of complimentary maintenance package. While that’s a bit of a bummer in our eyes, these vehicles are well known for maintaining their reliability long after purchase.

What we think

2021 Mazda CX-5 - news.mazdausa.com

2021 Mazda CX-5 – news.mazdausa.com |  Shop 2021 Mazda CX-5 on Carsforsale.com

It’s incredibly hard to find a niche that isn’t filled in the massive ocean of automobiles on the market today, but Mazda has done just that with the CX-5. So many SUVs and CUVs fall prey to the idea that the average consumer simply doesn’t care about driving dynamics as much as they care about how many cupholders their vehicle has, but that’s not true. Take anyone with a paltry understanding of handling or sporty driving and put them behind the wheel of the CX-5 for an afternoon. They’ll come away with a real appreciation for how much better cars in this space can be. Great interior and exterior features with sincere athleticism. Bravo Mazda.

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Stephen Rivers
Stephen Rivers

Stephen is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion. In his free time, he’s usually at a hockey rink, walking his dogs, or on a road bike. His automotive tastes lean towards cars that oftentimes seem to take a pound of flesh for the ethereal pleasure they provide: things like the Lamborghini Diablo, TVR Cerbera, and a C4 Corvette turned into a street-legal go-kart. He drives his Bugeye Subaru WRX in Autocross, Rallycross, and track day competitions throughout the year and daily drives a twin-turbo BMW 535i.

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