Here at Autos.ca, the Mazda CX-5 is one of our favourite crossovers: in our 2013 and 2015 comparison tests of seven popular crossovers, the CX-5 won first and third places respectively. But it’s been four years since the CX-5 was first introduced and upgrades were needed to keep it from falling behind newer models. Perhaps the most significant upgrade for 2016 is Mazda’s next-generation car connectivity system, which includes a 7-inch touchscreen now operated by a control dial positioned on the centre console. Other improvements for 2016 address some of the criticisms we had of the CX-5: more sound insulation to reduce interior noise; more interior storage spaces; a new electronic parking brake button that frees up space in the centre console; and tweaks to the suspension and seats that improve the previously firm ride.
The 2016 CX-5 continues to offer 2.0-litre (GX) and 2.5-litre (GS, GT) four-cylinder engines and a standard six-speed manual transmission (GX only), but the six-speed automatic transmission (optional GX, standard GS, GT) now has a new Sport mode to improve acceleration and highway passing performance. As well, the AWD system (optional GX, GS, standard GT) uses a new low-viscosity oil that contributes to better fuel economy.
Some upgrades for 2016 apply only to the top-of-the-line CX-5 GT trim, including new LED headlights, LED fog lights and LED taillights; better-looking, larger-diameter 19-inch tires and alloy wheels; and upgrades to driving safety that include new Radar Cruise Control and Smart Brake Support (automatic braking at mid to high speeds).
The 2016 CX-5’s base price remains the same as last year, but MSRPs have increased by $350 on mid-level GS and by $1,400 on top GT trims due to additional standard equipment. 2016 MSRPs range from $22,995 (GX FWD manual transmission) to $36,995 (GT AWD automatic transmission) plus options, $1,895 Freight and PDI charge, $100 a/c levy, and relevant taxes.
With a base price of just $22,995, the CX-5 GX FWD would seem to be a good buy: it comes with a fuel-efficient 155-hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder ‘SkyActiv’ engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes 17-inch tires and steel wheels, keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, black fabric seats, AM/FM/CD with four speakers, air conditioning, power windows, power heated mirrors, cruise control, USB, electronic parking brake, auxiliary and 12-volt ports, manual height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, centre console/armrest and storage bin, and 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks.
However, the GX doesn’t have the new HMI console controller and 7-inch touchscreen or alloy wheels as standard equipment. Those come with the optional Convenience Package ($1,900) that also includes Bluetooth audio, HD radio, steering wheel controls, and tinted privacy windows. If you want the optional 6-speed automatic transmission ($1,300) you must also order the Convenience Package ($1,900). That brings the GX FWD Automatic price to $26,195. Add all-wheel drive and the price rises to $28,195.
Aside from all that, the base 155-hp 2.0-litre engine in the GX feels underpowered when passing and climbing hills, and for that reason alone we’d recommend the GS or GT trims which come standard with a 184-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.