2018 Mazda CX-5 Review: Fun to drive comes standard

Ever since the Mazda CX-5 joined Mazda’s crossover lineup, it has been one of favorite crossovers, mainly because it’s more fun to drive than pretty much anything in the compact crossover segment. For the 2017 model year Mazda completely revamped the CX-5 with a more sculpted and upscale look inside and out. Just a year after its debut, Mazda has made one big change under the hood. Does it change how we feel about the 2018 CX-5? Definitely not.

The biggest change to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 is that the 2.5L four-cylinder now has cylinder deactivation technology that can automatically shut down two of the cylinders when they aren’t needed. The overall idea is that by shutting down two cylinders when less power is needed, the engine will be more fuel efficient. According to the EPA, the 2018 CX-5 is rated at 25/31 mpg if you choose the front-wheel drive version or 24/30 mpg if you opt for all-wheel drive. That’s not a huge improvement over the 2017 CX-5, which was rated at 24/31 mpg with front-wheel drive and 23/29 mpg with all-wheel drive. If you want a more efficient crossover, then head over to Honda, since the turbocharged CR-V is rated at 28/34 mpg with front-wheel drive or 27/33 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Inside there are a few more standard features, like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Honestly the interior didn’t really need any updates, since the CX-5 continues to offer one of the most luxurious interiors in its class. The only model that rivals it is the Honda CR-V. The biggest issue we’re still hoping will be addressed soon is the lack of Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto. The CX-5’s infotainment system feels at least a generation or two behind its rivals. The good news is that the updated Mazda6 is getting Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto, so the CX-5 shouldn’t be too far behind.

The 2.5L four-cylinder engine generates 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft. of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Even with the cylinder deactivation tech, you’ll never notice when the system has turned two of the cylinders off. There aren’t any lights in the instrument cluster to let you know that half the cylinder deactivation is activated and the engine doesn’t sound or feel any different. We also didn’t notice any differences in the way the engine felt or sounded as it switched between two or four cylinder modes, which is great.

Even with 186 horsepower on tap, the Mazda CX-5 never really feels that zippy, but just like every other Mazda the CX-5 is more than just its engine. The reason the CX-5 continues to shine is because of its excellent chassis. It’s suspension minimizes body roll – making it more enjoyable to drive in the twisties than the CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The steering is precise with good feedback and since Mazda has avoided the sad CVT trend, the CX-5 manages to find the right gear easily without the weird sounds that its CVT equipped rivals emit. The only thing that would make the CX-5 even more excellent would be if Mazda decides to put its new 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder in the CX-5. Please Mazda!

Pricing for the 2018 Mazda CX-5 starts at $24,150. The CX-5 is offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels with the fully loaded CX-5 Grand Touring with all-wheel drive coming in at $33,930.

Marc Carter :Marc Carter is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Diabetesss. When he's not writing news or reviews for Diabetesss, he also contributes to Inhabitat.com.

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