Over the past three years, Mazda has made a great vehicle even better by redesigning the CX-5, and coming up with what could possibly be the perfect combination of a small utility vehicle and a sports car in an SUV package — the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD.
The CX-5 sports a new look up front with smaller LED head lamps along with the trapezoidal Mazda grill placed now a slight forward angle, with the rear featuring a new shoulder line that gives the SUV an upscale look. Along with fantastic cabin upgrades, this new little ute would have to be at the top of anyone’s list when looking in this category.
We always enjoy time with a Mazda and even more so with their SUVs, as they are such a hot selling product on the market today. The CX-5 accounts for one-quarter of Mazda’s total worldwide sales, and after a week with the redesigned ute it was easy to see why so many are buying and enjoying the small SUV.
Mazda points out that the CX-5’s exterior is designed to catch the eye and not the wind — of course, wanting to get every mile out of every gallon possible we had to agree that it was a very pleasing car to look at and drive. The sheet metal is sculpted to slip the wind by the car instead of pushing back, and weight has been shifted rearward to not only give the Mazda more stability but also to keep with the aggressive appearance.
At the essence of this obsession to detail in what Mazda terms Skyactiv Technology, one might notice this emblem on all Mazdas in the recent past, at least since 2011. So what exactly does Skyactiv Technology mean to the common man? The simple answer is it is the brand name for a series of technologies developed to increase fuel efficiencies and engine output, along with new technology in transmission and body design.
It seemed to us at the end of the week that all these new technologies really added up to making a great small SUV, no matter what Mazda wants to call them. We think it is kind of a cool name anyway and seems to appeal to most buyers in the market.
Originally, the CX-5 came with only one engine choice, a 2.5-liter offering, which managed a nice 187 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. However with the 2020 model year, they have added a turbo-charged 2.5-liter power plant that adds an additional 40 horsepower to 227, and a huge 125 foot-pounds of torque to 310. For our week, we averaged 24.5 miles per gallon.
It was noticeable form the moment we drove the Signature edition, as its sprint and responsiveness were vastly improved from the nonturbo engine. Three years ago, we loved the new little ute, and now it is even better and more engaging to drive!
Inside is where Mazda designers have really shone, by redesigning most of the interior and adding all the right things in all the right places. Becoming the focal point in the cabin is the available 8-inch LED screen with what Mazda calls a Multifunction Commander Control, which turned out to be a knob in the center console somewhat like an Audi or BMW in the way it worked. However, it is now a touchscreen also, but not within super easy reach for the drive. We found it easier to engage via the dial on the center console.
This controlled all functions in the CX-5 from navigation, to radio, to the Bluetooth phone connection. One of our only complaints is that the voice control for the navigation was difficult to navigate the menus with, causing us to pull over to set destinations. We found it easier to use Apple CarPlay if we wanted to put in a specific destination.
The seats were leather trimmed in a beautiful caturra brown color and heated in the front, making the cold February mornings very manageable. The designers also included soft touch materials throughout the cabin where our hands, arms or even legs might need a place to rest.
The Bluetooth was easy to connect with our phones, taking about 30 seconds to complete the process, and worked seamlessly through the week both with our phones and music. The CX-5 also came with an HD radio, and the SiriusXM radio with the upgraded Bose audio sound system was concert quality.
Of course, the CX-5 featured keyless entry and pushbutton start, a powered nine-way driver’s seat with lumbar control and a total of four USB ports, two up front and two in the back.
Also included with the Signature trim are driver’s seat memory, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a six-way power passenger seat and also a full color heads-up display. The new display works in conjunction with the navigation to put traffic signs right on the windshield where they can be viewed easily, along with speed, navigation and other pertinent information.
There were also some very nice 19-inch bright silver finish wheels that rounded out the exterior package. They helped get even more looks as we motored around in the CX-5. The gray color was beautiful; however, over the years we have fallen in love with the new Mazda red!
The CX-5 needs to be on the list of anyone looking for a smaller SUV that is sporty and can be had in a trim level that a few years ago would have cost thousands more to get the creature comforts and safety features that can be had on the CX-5. It is a great value for the price and deserves a look.
Base price: $37,055
Price as driven: $38,925