The 2016 Mazda CX-5 is offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims, including two different engines and a choice of front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
Base CX-5 Sport models are powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that makes 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. Touring and Grand Touring models instead get a 2.5L engine making 184 hp and 185 lb-ft. A 6-speed manual gearbox is only offered in the Sport, with front-wheel drive, and the rest of the lineup has a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Both engines were developed as part of Mazda's recent SkyActiv engineering initiative; combining thermal and materials advancements with direct injection and high-compression designs, they're more fuel-efficient than most other engines in their class. 2.0L versions manage up to 26 mpg city, 35 highway.
The CX-5 otherwise manages to feel balanced, responsive and sprightly, even with its somewhat taller seating position. A responsive electric-boost rack-and-pinion power steering and sporty yet absorbent suspension, it's one of the best-handling compact utility vehicles.
The CX-5 is also very versatile. In all versions of the CX-5, the back seats are split 20/40/40 and fold nearly flat. Liftover height is low, and the resulting cargo floor is continuous, which should make it easy to pack in larger pieces of weekend cargo.
Sport models include a generous set of standard equipment, including many things that aren't always included at the base level, like alloy wheels, power mirrors, push-button start, keyless entry, cruise control, an overhead console and a USB audio input. Touring models add much more popular equipment, however, like leather steering-wheel and shifter trim, a rear-seat armrest, a rearview camera, steering-wheel audio controls, upgraded upholstery, and a 6-speaker sound system with 5.8-inch touch-screen interface, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio, HD Radio, SMS text-messaging capability and the ability to play (and display) Pandora internet radio using a smartphone.
Grand Touring models add leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, front heated seats, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a power moonroof, Sirius satellite radio and 9-speaker Bose audio.
Major factory options are grouped into just a few packages, including a Technology Package that adds navigation, bi-xenon HID headlamps, adaptive (pivoting) front lighting, an auto-dimming mirror and universal garage-door opener to the Grand Touring or Touring. An upgraded audio and infotainment system (and Bluetooth) is available on the Sport, and a Moonroof/Bose Package on the Touring. There are just a few other port- or dealer-installed options, such as remote engine start, fog lamps, rear parking sensors and roof-rack accessories for kayaks, snowboards and other cargo.