2 weeks ago we walked into the show room at Mazda du Boulevard in St-Hyacinthe, Québec at 5:30pm. By 6:15pm we were out the door with the paperwork for our new 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT in our hands, and less than a week later we had the keys to Mazda's second generation compact SUV. I'll be the first one to admit that I wasn't a big fan of Mazda. Part of it was the stigma around their rust issues, the other part was just the building from online hate towards the brand. Aside from this car, I've only driven 2 other recent Mazdas, one of which being the ND MX-5.
But as an automotive journalist I need to try and be more neutral when it comes to new vehicles. I decided to throw out all the misconceptions I had about the brand and look at this new vehicle as I would any other car we've reviewed, the only difference is it gets parked in my TestDrive's Studio A when we're done, rather than handing the keys back to someone else after a few hours. So we're going to have a lot of time to get to know this car, but also we've had some experience with it so far.
I'm safe to say that the second generation Mazda CX-5 is one of the most popular compact SUVs here in Québec, and even the first generation which was in production from 2013 to 2016.5 is insanely popular as well. We see about 5 of the new CX-5s on the road per day, and plenty more of the old ones. Compare that with Honda's grotesque CR-V or Toyota's insanely boring RAV4, we see few if any during any given week. So many CX-5 GTs have been bought that it created a backorder here in Canada, with an average of 3 months to get one.
So why is it so popular? The other vehicles in this segment have all gotten round, design language has become bubbly and soft, or when you think of Honda and Toyota it's just gotten ugly. Mazda decided to create sharp lines, and the front of the car looks aggressive, similar with the design language we're seeing from BMW. The other reason these cars are so popular is price & features. Our fully loaded GT with Technology Package cost $36,730.00 (MSRP) which includes:
Automatic LED headlights, fog lights, tail lights
Power rear lift gate
Windshield wiper defroster
Rain sensing wipers
Active blind spot monitoring w/ rear cross traffic alert
Smart city brake support
Smart brake support
Radar cruise control with stop & go
Forward obstruction warning
Lane departure warning
High beam control
Traffic sign recognition
Windshield Heads-up Display
BOSE® 10 Speaker audio
Colour information display
7 Inch Navigation w/ backup camera
Full leather seating, front & rear heated seats
Heated steering wheel
19" Alloy rims
Do you really need more?
The interior is very nice, especially with the leather seats. I find them very comfortable and as someone who is significantly overweight I don't have any issue with space in either front seat, and the back seats aren't bad either. The rear seat arm rest features the controls for the heated seats, plus Mazda put two USB charging outlets in the arm rest. Great for kids who want to play with their tablets during a road trip, or even better if you want to use your CX-5 for Uber, throw some charging cables back there with fresh bottled water and magazines, you'll be getting 5 star ratings every time.
The front centre arm rest is a little useless, there's no adjustable element to it so you're stuck having it placed further back. For most it probably won't be a problem but I find that my arm doesn't quite reach back there during my normal driving position. The dashboard and door cards have a stitched leatherette trim with soft plastic beyond that, which is a really nice design tough. The plastic wood trim isn't bad either, with the rest of the trim being finished with a piano black shine.
We've used Mazda's infotainment before on the 2015 Mazda CX-3 and 2017 MX-5 we've driven prior to TestDrive, and it's not a bad system. We've used the voice option to enter addresses, and even with the French annunciation the GPS knew exactly what we said, we're very impressed with the voice recognition with this. Audio sounds decent with XM Radio and even through Bluetooth on our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 the audio quality was very good. Setting up the Bluetooth took a minute and has worked great.
The GT trim also adds dual-zone automatic climate control, whereas the base model GS gets old-style rotary knobs for air control. We've been happy with the air system on this car, automatic setting works as expected and having a dual/sync feature is great, as many cars still skip on this useful feature.
Since this is the second car we've purchased while filming and producing TestDrive, we plan to feature it frequently. This will become our long-term test vehicle so if you're thinking about the CX-5 and want to know more before buying, then definitely subscribe to our YouTube Channel and favourite our site on your browser to stay up-to-date with the latest TestDrive news and reviews. You can watch our full Spotlight on the 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT Technology Package on YouTube: