It’s a Best Buy because:

The CX-5 has no glaring faults, and it combines impressive fuel economy with a high features-per-dollar ratio.

But…

Power, rear-seat room, and interior storage don’t rank with the best in this class.

Worth noting:

Test examples have averaged an impressive 30 mpg.

What Is It?

The CX-5 is Mazda’s compact crossover SUV. It comes in front- and all-wheel-drive versions and offers two-row seating for 5 passengers. Three trim levels are offered: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Sports have a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; Tourings and Grand Tourings have a new-for-2014 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 184 hp. The front-drive Sport model is available with a manual transmission; all others come with automatic.

What’s New?

In addition to the larger, more-powerful engine mentioned above, CX-5 gets updated infotainment features and the availability of Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support, a collision avoidance/mitigation system.

Fuel Economy

The EPA rates the front-drive CX-5 Sport at 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 26 city/32 highway with the automatic. The all-wheel-drive Sport is rated at 25 city/31 highway. Touring and Grand Touring models suffer only a slight EPA-rating penalty, checking in at 25/32 in front-wheel-drive form and 24/30 with all-wheel drive.

In Consumer Guide® testing, a manual-transmission Sport averaged 30.3 mpg. A front-drive 2.0-liter automatic Sport averaged 29.3 mpg in mostly highway driving. An all-wheel-drive Grand Touring returned 26.6 mpg in mixed driving. All CX-5s use regular-grade gasoline.

Value in Class

Last year, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 garnered a Consumer Guide® Best Buy award for its impressive fuel economy, fun-to-drive character, and all-around value. One of our few quibbles with the vehicle was its adequate-but-middling acceleration. Mazda addresses that issue for 2014 with a more-powerful 2.5-liter engine for Touring and Grand Touring models. We’re also impressed that the new 2.5 engine’s fuel-economy ratings are only 1-2 mpg less than the 2.0’s. Any CX-5 feels sportier than its main rivals, with little penalty in ride quality or overall practicality. For 2014, it remains a Best Buy.

BASE PRICE RANGE $21,490 – $29,090
BODY STYLES 4-Door Wagon
AVAILABLE ENGINES 155-HP, 2.0-Liter 4-Cyl.; 184-HP, 2.5-Liter 4-Cyl
DRIVE WHEELS Front or All-Wheel Drive
BUILT IN Japan
EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE 25-35 MPG

Other Compact Crossover/SUV Best Buys

none