It’s been only four years since the Mazda CX-5 made its global debut and introduced the company’s then-new Kodo design language and SkyActiv technology, and the crossover has already been redesigned. And no, I’m not talking about a comprehensive facelift, but a full overhaul inside and out, alongside notable changes under the hood.
Introduced at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the new CX-5 borrows heavily from the larger and newer CX-9. It actually looks like a shrunken CX-9 to some extent, but it has plenty of unique features of its own. For instance, while the headlamps and grille are shaped like the CX-9, the mesh is honeycomb-like, while the chrome frame extends further into the headlamps. The latter are also longer and have thin LED stripes toward both the inner and outer edges. Also, the chrome frame and the engine hood don’t make contact like they do on the CX-9. This gives the crossover a sporty feel, but it also make it look somewhat awkward from certain angles. Definitely a “love it or hate it” features.
There are obvious similarities around back too. The headlamps are slimmer and more stylish, while the tailgate sports a big trapezoidal license plate recess. Unlike the CX-9, the CX-5 doesn’t have the chrome strip between the taillights and the black bumper insert is significantly lower. I really prefer the CX-9’s more massive looking bumper, but hey, I’m sure other drivers dig the CX-5 as it is.
The interior has also been updated to current Mazda standards, with the most notable change being the infotainment screen sitting on top of the dashboard. There’s also a new control knob on the center console, revised seats, and new materials. Customers can choose from one of three interior packages, including pure white or black leather, or black fabric.
Mazda didn’t release output figures yet, but confirmed that the engine lineup include three engines. There’s the familiar 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter gasoline units, as well as the 2.2-liter diesel powerplant. The six-speed manual and automatic transmissions carry over with modifications. As usual, all-wheel-drive is optional.
Why it matters
Completely redesigned vehicles after only four years on the market, now that’s something you don’t see every day. Granted, the redesigned doesn’t include a new chassis and new drivetrains, but it’s still a significant change compared to the outgoing model. The first-gen CX-5 was still a fresh and appealing crossover in a crowded and demanding segment, but the new vehicle gives Mazda the upper hand in this class. Now look at the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape and tell me you don’t want a CX-5 in your life.
The Mazda CX-5 was launched in 2012 as our first new-generation model featuring KODO design and SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, and has been acclaimed worldwide for its dynamic design, responsive driving feel and excellent environmental and safety performance. It has grown into a core model accounting for approximately 25 percent of Mazda’s annual sales, and to date 1.4 million units have been sold in around 120 different countries. I am very grateful to all our customers who chose the CX-5.
At Mazda, our dream is to create an emotional connection with customers and become an essential part of their lives. To this end we have worked to strengthen the feeling of connection between car and driver, creating human-centered cars that operate in harmony with human sensibilities. Moving forward, we aim to create cars that provide driving pleasure, not only for the driver, but for everybody riding in the car. We want to invigorate both body and spirit through the joy of driving and the various pleasures of car ownership. And we chose this path in the belief that it will lead to the realization of our dream.
The all-new CX-5, which refines every aspect of Mazda’s current technology and design, is the first step in this journey. In developing the model, I was determined to find a way to break through the traditional trade-off between driving pleasure and passenger comfort. The joy and pleasure that grow as car and driver communicate and respond to each other should not sacrifice the comfort of family or friends also riding in the car. The goal became to add a new dimension of driving pleasure to the CX-5 by making it an SUV that all customers would enjoy and form an attachment with.
For the design, we settled on ‘refined toughness’ as our keyword and challenged ourselves to elevate the KODO concept to a new level. Inspired by traditional Japanese crafts, we pursued a minimalist aesthetic free of all non-essential elements. The result is a bold and premium-looking exterior, and an interior that gives all occupants a pleasant feeling. Our new body color, Soul Red Crystal, combines vivid highlights and crystalline depths and further accentuates the design of the new CX-5.
The all-new CX-5 adopts G-Vectoring Control, the first of the SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS technologies. Driving performance has been polished in line with human sensibilities, realizing dynamic behavior that corresponds with driver expectations and a comfortable ride with minimal torso-sway for all vehicles occupants. The cabin is quieter, allowing for more comfortable conversation, and the rear seats provide greater levels of comfort and usability.
To help provide driving pleasure for everyone in the car, we have incorporated Mazda’s latest technologies, including i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety features to help keep occupants safer, an Active Driving Display that promotes safer driving by projecting information onto the windshield, and the Mazda Connect car connectivity system.
There is something unique about the way Mazda makes cars, with an abiding thirst for challenge and uncompromising convictions about how vehicles should be engineered and why. I believe that this is the path we were destined to follow. I also believe that the all-new CX-5 – born of a desire to provide every driver and their passengers with driving pleasure and a deeper relationship with the car – will delight customers and enrich their lives. I sincerely hope that people will feel Mazda’s ongoing spirit of challenge and evolution through this car.
Finely honed beauty that conveys refined toughness
Development of the new CX-5 aimed to take the emotional appeal and powerful vitality Mazda has pursued with KODO—Soul of Motion design to a yet higher level by creating a fresh expression of beauty that appeals to mature sensibilities. Aiming for a unique design only Mazda could produce, the development team focused on a Japanese aesthetic. Starting with a simple yet honed form free of non-essential elements, as is common in traditional Japanese crafts, the development team adopted ‘Refined Toughness’ as the keyword upon which “mature physique”, “elegant form”, and “fine fit and finish” serve as the three pillars of the exterior and interior design.
Efforts focused on creating a bold, tough look that further enhances the distinct personality and dynamic air of the previous model. An expression of one pure motion running from the front to the rear of the body helps convey a sense of agile acceleration and speed. With a physique that emphasizes its stance and look of forward momentum, a simple form that beautifully reflects shadows and highlights, and deeply chiseled design details throughout, the new CX-5 realizes a bold exterior design with a seductive charm.
A lower center of gravity and 10mm wider front and rear tread give the new CX-5 proportions that convey a more powerful stance, as if the car is firmly gripping the road. The A-pillars were repositioned approximately 35mm rearward compared to the previous model, and the relative positions of the front axle and A-pillars optimized. A single expression of powerful motion runs the length of the body’s side and culminates at the rear with a trapezoidal shape that extends from the liftgate out toward each rear tire. The result is a powerful physique that appears from any angle to be firmly planted over the tires.
Strengthening the low, wide expression of the evolved Mazda family face are thinner, lower-placed headlamps and a signature wing that emphasizes the breadth by spreading across the face with tips that extend below the headlamps. The mesh section of the front grille adopts a detailed three-dimensional pattern. This combines with the sculpted signature wing to add depth and a bolder expression that heightens the sporty look of the front face.
Beautiful reflections appear where the body surface changes shape as it sweeps from the front to the rear. Concerted efforts to adjust every detail of the positioning and characteristics of the peaks, as well as the changes and motion in the highlights and reflections, create an elegant expression of transitioning light.
Mazda’s new Soul Red Crystal body color heightens the appeal of this effect. Further evolving the characteristics of Soul Red, a vivid body color that already combined bright highlights and pure depth to instill a strong impression of emotionally charged energy, Soul Red Crystal realizes a fresher, even more stunning level of transparency.
In keeping with the ‘Refined Toughness’ keyword, efforts for the interior focused on the areas of ‘ambience’, ‘form’, and ‘texture’. Aiming for a human-centered ambience, Mazda carefully considered the form of every component surrounding the occupants to create a basic layout that provides a pleasing sense of exhilaration and reassuring comfort for all on board. Next, the design team worked to perfect the interior design with forms representing both SUV toughness and quality, and attention to the fit and finish of every detail.
All elements in front of the driver flow outward from the center of the steering wheel, creating a pleasing sense of exhilarating tension as well as an ambience of roomy width across the cabin.
A seat design with voluminous depth combines with deeply chiseled air conditioning louvers to express SUV toughness with fine quality.
The film on the decorative panel blends the warmth of natural wood with the strength and toughness of metal to create a fresh expression of depth.
Customers can select from one of three interior packages, including pure white or black leather, or black fabric*. Different colors are used above and below the instrument panel to emphasize the sense of physical unity with the car and roominess of the interior.
Human-centered design provides all cabin occupants with greater comfort
Mazda applied every aspect of human-centered design on the new CX-5 to further polish the acclaimed packaging of the current model. The result is cabin comfort that makes drives a delight for all cabin occupants.
Driving environment and cabin comfort
The cockpit zone is designed to provide an ideal driving position, with all controls and switches laid out where the driver can naturally extend a hand or foot to operate them. The floor console has been raised and the shift knob positioned 60mm (automatic) or 40mm (manual) higher than on the current model to improve operability.
Rearward positioning of the A-pillars expands the driver’s field of vision to the right and left, while smaller new door mirrors enhance diagonal visibility toward the corners. Measures to ensure excellent visibility out the rear include a slightly lower beltline than on the current model and the adoption of a single pane of glass for the rear window.
The front seat seatbacks incorporate suspension mats and the rigidity of each part is optimized to firmly support the occupant’s waist and minimize lateral swaying of the upper body and motion of the head. High-damping urethane foam used on the seat cushion provides greater comfort.
The new CX-5 is the first Mazda product to adopt a two-step reclining mechanism on the rear seats. Significant improvements to comfort in the rear seats also include a lower hip point, seat cushions with a three-dimensional shape that follows the shape of the occupant’s lower body, and the availability of seat heaters and air-conditioning vents mounted on the rear of the floor console.
To provide greater convenience, the front of the taller floor console is fitted with a pair of adjustable cup holders that sit side by side.
With a capacity of 505L (DIN, with subtrunk), the cargo area secures the same practicality as the current model’s 500L (DIN, with subtrunk) capacity.
Human Machine Interface (HMI)*
The Multi-Information Display (MID) to the right of the instrument cluster newly adopts a high-resolution 4.6-inch color TFT liquid crystal display (LCD).
The CX-5 newly adopts an Active Driving Display that projects information from the navigation system on the windshield.
Moving the mounting position of the 7-inch center display to the top of the dashboard contributes greatly to reducing the amount of eye movement required of the driver. This independently mounted display is the first on a Mazda to use optical bonding to join the LCD to the touch panel, which results in a clearer image.
*Availability depends on the market and specification.
The new CX-5 adopts Mazda Connect*, the advanced car connectivity system that works in conjunction with smartphones and other mobile devices to make it easier to connect to the internet, access to social networking services and use other communications functions.
Mazda Connect offers audio functions, hands-free phone operation, Aha™ by HARMAN for communications functions, as well as navigation that uses data from SD cards.
*The name Mazda Connect is used in Japan, US, Canada and Mexico. The system is referred to as MZD Connect in other markets.
The system is optimally tuned to match the characteristics of an SUV, delivering clearer high-end sound along with a tighter bass sound. The new system also adds tweeters mounted in the A-pillars. Placing sound output close to the ears of the cabin occupants realizes a clearer, more natural sound.
The new CX-5 features a 10-speaker Bose® premium sound system co-developed by Mazda and Bose that includes Bose’s own AudioPilot™2 ambient noise compensation and Centerpoint®2 surround sound system.
Driving pleasure everyone in the car can enjoy
Based on the human-centered philosophy, which aims to vitalize and stimulate the body and soul through a driving experience matched to human sensibilities, Mazda strives to build cars that further heighten the sense of unity between car and driver. For the new CX-5, every aspect of performance was further polished to provide not only the driver but also all who ride in the car with a truly pleasing experience. The efforts, including refinements to the powertrain and handling, ride comfort, and quietness, achieve lively and pleasant-feeling performance, as well as comfort for all cabin occupants.
The engine lineup offers selections appropriate to each market. This includes Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine, along with the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 and SKYACTIV-G 2.5 direct-injection gasoline engines. The engines are paired with either the six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic or six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission. These powertrains provide powerful acceleration with linear characteristics along with excellent fuel economy and environmental performance.
Also available is Mazda’s predictive i-ACTIV AWD system, which helps prevent the front wheels from slipping. The system employs synthetic oil that reduces energy losses throughout its operating temperature range by maintaining its low viscosity, even in extremely cold temperatures. It also reduces resistance by adopting ball bearings for all its power take-off and rear differential unit bearings.
The new CX-5 adopts G-Vectoring Control (GVC), the first technology in Mazda’s new SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS series. By adjusting engine torque in response to steering wheel action, it delivers unified control over lateral and longitudinal acceleration (G) forces and optimizes the vertical load on each wheel. GVC is particularly effective in SUVs, which can be prone to generating lateral forces due to their relatively high center of gravity. It achieves high levels of both vehicle responsiveness and stability, while also helping to reduce sideways sliding of the cabin occupants’ bodies and deliver a comfortable ride.
In addition to using a column type electric power steering system, the new CX-5 adopts rigid steering mounts that heighten its linearity and steering rigidity.
The new CX-5 suspension system uses MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link system in the rear. Increasing the diameter of the front damper pistons and adopting liquid filled bushings for the front suspension suppresses the floating sensation experienced by the driver and the unpleasant vibrations all cabin occupants feel when the vehicle is subjected to roll.
The brake system employs ventilated discs in the front and solid discs in the rear. The new CX-5 also newly adopts Mazda’s Auto-hold function, which keeps the car stopped even after the driver lifts their foot off the brake pedal.
A 15.5% increase in torsional rigidity over the previous model reduces flexing that might otherwise slow response to the driver’s steering actions.
Increased application of ultra-high-tensile steel includes the adoption of 1,180MPa steel on the A-pillars and 980MPa steel on the side sills and B-pillars.
NVH performance and Aerodynamics
To realize a quiet cabin environment that enables occupants to enjoy stress-free conversation while driving, particular effort was devoted to reducing low-frequency road noise heard when traveling on roads with coarse surfaces, as well as high-frequency wind and tire noise heard when traveling at higher speeds. Compared to the previous model at a cruising speed of 100km/h (62mph), the new CX-5 achieves approximately 10% clearer conversation levels within the cabin and reduces noise by approximately 1.3dB when traveling on rough road surfaces.
Aerodynamic parts strategically positioned on the body where they will be most effective and duct-shaped openings within the front grille realize excellent aerodynamic performance.
Further evolved i-ACTIVSENSE provides world-class safety performance
Mazda Proactive Safety*1 is a comprehensive approach to maximizing the range of conditions in which the driver can operate the vehicle safely and with greater confidence. It aims to help support true driving pleasure for every customer.
Newly added active safety functions and features enable Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE*2 advanced safety technologies to lend yet greater assistance to the driver in identifying potential risks early on, and to reduce chances of damage or injury. This includes the introduction of new technologies for supporting awareness and safer driving. Enhancements to the passive safety features include improved efficiency of the multi-load path structure on Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY, and increased use of ultra-high-tensile steel. We aimed to develop a car that is fully capable of high-level ratings in collision tests around the world.
*1: Mazda Proactive Safety is Mazda’s safety philosophy that aims to maximize the range of conditions in which the driver can safely operate the vehicle while minimizing the risks that can lead to an accident.
*2: i-ACTIVSENSE is an umbrella term covering a series of advanced safety technologies that employ detection devices such as milliwave radar units and cameras.
The new CX-5 is equipped with the latest evolution of Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), which can follow the vehicle ahead from a standing stop, and with Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), which reads speed limit and other road signs and displays the sign’s message on the Active Driving Display*.
*Availability depends on the market and specification.
The new CX-5 uses Mazda’s high-strength SKYACTIV-BODY, which effectively absorbs and disperses impact force to suppress cabin deformation. In addition, the strengthened A-pillar section and expanded use of high-strength materials reduces weight and achieves a higher level of collision safety.
A rich complement of safety equipment and features helps provide reassurance in the event of a collision. Adding polypropylene foam to the inside of the headrests and optimizing the mounting method for the seatback frame improves the head impact mitigating structure of the front seats.
Structures under the hood and in the front bumper help mitigate injury to a pedestrian’s head or legs.