Mazda CX5

Since its debut at the LA Autoshow in 2012, the Mazda CX5 has remained one of the top choices in its segment. Its Skyactiv approach to mechanical components – making everything lighter and more robust – received many accolades in the early models. The second generation in 2017 delivered one of the best exterior styling’s of the decade, with awards for being the best in class worldwide at one point or another. The exterior styling remains timeless, and the comfortable ride has only improved year after year. Although the exterior has not changed much, a few moldings, trims, and new colors keep it current. The Soul Red is still my favorite. The basic interior layout remains inside, but premium models offer luxurious upholstery, elevating the driving experience. The ride is very comfortable and quiet for four passengers. I wish it had more trunk space, but that would change its overall form. I’m glad they left it as it is. The most significant changes are things you can’t see but can feel. There are now two engines available – the original Skyactiv 2-liter four-cylinder generates 187 HP (versus the 155 from the original version), which is more than enough power for commuting all over Los Angeles. There’s also a 2.5-liter turbo option now, with 256 HP, making it my favorite. Throttle response is immediate; you can feel the pull when getting onto the 405FWY on-ramps. All-wheel-drive and a six-speed automatic transmission give it a solid performance.

All these upgrades are welcome, as the car feels more powerful. Something that didn’t change, and I’m glad, is the dynamics of how the car handles. The Mazda engineers have found the parameters that make the CX5 an absolute pleasure to drive. People like me, who can feel the car’s reactions to the road and grip around corners, will enjoy driving it. Seven trim models range from the standard base model Preferred to the premium interior, turbo motor Carbon Edition (sportier), and Signature. The preferred model starts at around $29,000, and the premium models can get close to $39,000. You’re getting a lot of cars for the money and one of the highest quality builds available today.

Every model boasts a 10.3-inch infotainment display. Mazda still uses a rotary controller in the center console, which, once you master it, is really easy to use. The interface also operates through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across all models. The CX-5 comes with Mazda Connected Services, which includes access to remote vehicle functions via a smartphone app and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. As you would expect today, the CX-5 comes standard with driver-assistance technology. I cannot find anything to criticize. I love the styling and how it plays with the shadows of its body, always something moving and giving a dynamic look. If you’re looking for a proven, reliable, and enjoyable experience behind the steering wheel, the CX5 is still one of the best for Los Angeles commuters.