Originally published March 23, 2015

Not everyone gets along with his or her in-laws. I get that. Which is why I recognize how lucky I am that I do. My mother-in-law is a kind and generous lady with a tremendous sense of humour and a seemingly endless desire to fatten me up with delicious home cooking every time I see her.

So when several years ago, she asked for my advice on her new car purchase, I confidently pointed her at the Mazda dealership, and here we are four Mazdas later with her merrily driving a CX-5. I thoroughly enjoy her cooking, so it is very much in my best interest to make sure she remains happy with the cars I recommend to her, and so far, I’m not going hungry.

The 2016 model year marks the mid-lifecycle refresh for the compact CX-5 crossover. It was a handsome machine to begin with, and Mazda’s KODO design language is proving to weather well, still looking sharp today. Subtle updates are there for the new model, if you look closely. There are new LED lights front and rear (the former are a part of the Adaptive Front Lighting System), a subtle rework to the grille with a series of horizontal bars will identify the latest model to eagle-eyed Mazda fans. The most obvious update on our GT-trim test car is a set of attractive 19-inch wheels with contrasting finish.

Those wheels, when coupled with the Titanium Flash Mica paint on our CX-5, give the little ute a decidedly upscale appearance that helped the Mazda stand out as one of the styling leaders in our recent seven-car comparison test.

The power train in the CX-5 soldiers on unchanged for 2016. In all but the base GX trim, Mazda’s ubiquitous 2.5L inline four sends 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic to either the front, or all four wheels (as is the case with our AWD tester). The 2.0L in the base model can be had with a six-speed manual, but frankly, with only 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque, you’re better to save a few pennies and get the bigger engine.

Both engines utilize Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology, which, at the risk of over-simplifying it, combines high compression ratios with low-friction internals in an interest to reduce fuel consumption and increase drivability through good low-and-midrange torque. Where competitors are looking at CVT transmissions and turbochargers to achieve similar results, Mazda is having success with their approach, and the 2.5L SKYACTIV engine is a good one.

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