|✓ Sporty looks||☓ Firm ride|
|✓ Refined and roomy||☓ Outdated infotainment system|
|✓ Quick, agile performance||☓ Decent, but not great fuel economy|
The refined 2020 Mazda CX-5 mid-size crossover is for those who like to drive but don’t want to sacrifice utility. Instead, this is a compact crossover with more sporty flair than some rivals.
Improvements for 2020 include refinements throughout each trim level and more standard safety features and improvements to noise and vibration than in previous years. I tested the most expensive CX-5 — the fully-loaded $37,055 Signature with all-wheel drive. At the other end of the range, the base front-drive Sport is priced at $25,090. Models near the entry-level end offer better fuel economy than the Signature, but less equipment and a naturally-aspirated engine that provides so-so performance.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature is no fuel miser, but isn’t a gas hog, either. Its turbocharged 2.5-liter engine provides 227 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque while delivering an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 27 on highways. It has strong acceleration in the city and on highways. While it is turbocharged, it only calls for 87-octane gasoline. Use premium fuel, though, and the power increases to 250 horsepower, while the torque remains the same.
The responsive six-speed automatic transmission can be manually shifted, and a driver can switch from to sport mode through a console-mounted button if a little faster acceleration is needed, although that drive mode lowers fuel economy a bit.
The responsive electric power-assisted steering has a firm feel, and the ride is supple, although some may feel it’s a little too firm.
Handling is athletic, thanks to an all-independent suspension, dynamic stability and traction controls, front/rear stabilizer bars, G-Vectoring Control and the clever all-wheel drive system. The brake pedal has a reassuring feel, making the CX-5 a surefooted driving experience all around.
Comfort and Convenience
As with many crossovers, it takes a little extra effort to enter the CX-5, but once aboard occupants sit high in the Signature’s upscale interior. It has such features as supportive power Nappa leather heated and ventilated front seats, detailed stitching throughout, soft-touch surfaces and genuine layered wood trim. The console takes up a lot of space, but there’s good room for four tall adults, although the center of the rear seat is too hard for a third occupant back there; it’s best left to the fold-down armrest, which has twin cupholders and controls for the heated rear seats.
The power hatch works efficiently, and the cargo floor is low and wide. The cargo area is moderately large, and 60/40 split rear setbacks easily fold forward to greatly increase the cargo area. The CX-5 cabin has a good number of storage areas, including pockets in all doors.
Interior features also include a push-button start, which is somewhat buried behind the heated tilt/telescopic steering wheel, which has audio and cruise controls, automatic door locks and a decent sound system.
The large gauges can be quickly read, and a head-up display even provides traffic sign recognition. The rather outdated infotainment system is challenging to work, but there are a good number of manual switches on the dashboard for those who don’t want to bother with the console dial to get vehicle information.
Safety features include radar cruise control with stop-and-go, a 360-degree view monitor with front and rear parking sensors, advanced dual front air bags, front/rear side curtains and smart brake support.
The Signature is loaded with convenience and safety equipment. However, my test test vehicle’s striking Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint cost an extra $595. The Signature also has special aluminum alloy wheels, heated power mirrors with turn signals that fold against the windows to prevent parking lot damage, a power moonroof, “Signature” badging and nifty twin exhaust outlets.
The CX-5 Signature won’t deliver the pure experience of a Mazda MX-5 Miata, but you still can tell it’s from the same outfit. See more on the latest generation CX-5 below.
Update: The original article stated the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature’s torque at 310 lb-ft. Mazda updated that figure to 320 lb-ft for this model year. Sorry for the error!