IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:

The CX-5 has no glaring faults, and it combines impressive fuel economy with a high feature-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 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 184 hp. The front-drive Sport model is available with a manual transmission; all others come with automatic. CX-5 incorporates Mazda’s various SKYACTIV technologies, which include engine and transmission advancements along with optimization of other systems to produce increased fuel efficiency.

WHAT’S NEW?

After getting an available 2.5-liter engine for 2014, the CX-5 sees only one change for 2015: Touring models get keyless entry and starting as a standard feature.

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. Note that front-wheel-drive CX-5s use a 14.8-gallon fuel tank, while all-wheel-drive models have a 15.3-gallon capacity. All CX-5s use regular-grade gasoline.

VALUE IN CLASS

The Mazda CX-5 has been a perennial Consumer Guide® Best Buy award winner for its impressive fuel economy, fun-to-drive character, and all-around value. We feel it’s worth the extra money to step up to a Touring or Grand Touring model to get the 2.5-liter engine. Its fuel-economy ratings are only 1-2 mpg less than the 2.0’s, and it provides noticeably better acceleration. Still, any CX-5 feels sportier than its main rivals, with little penalty in ride quality or overall practicality.

BASE PRICE RANGE $21,545 – $29,220
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 24-35 MPG

Other Best Buys in this Class