There’s no secret that Mazda is known for building sportier variations of vehicles in many mainstream segments. Though, when it has come to their compact CX-5 crossover, things were not all that sporty when you consider the base engine that it was left with – until the 2019 model year when they added a Turbo to the equation, and that’s when things got “better”.
I recently had the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD trim in my garage for the week to check out, and it was a nice surprise to find the latest iteration of the brand’s 2.5-liter engine, one that had a turbocharger and was good for up to 250 horsepower with premium fuel and 310 lb-ft of torque. Such a powerplant is a welcomed addition to the CX-5 to further emphasize the sporty character of Mazda vehicles. I won’t go as far as to say the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine was bad, because it is still part of the lower three trim levels of the new CX-5 while the turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is found in the two top-level trims, the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is tweaked a little beyond just having a turbocharger under the hood. Mazda added additional sound deadening to quiet things down and revised the standard equipment list to now include all of the advanced safety features across all five trim levels.
To round up the welcomed addition of the turbocharged engine, the CX-5 is virtually transformed into another vehicle that performs leaps and bounds better than the naturally aspirated engine trims, which is left to work with 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph times are drastically different now with the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims’ naturally aspirated engine getting them up to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds. The turbocharged CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims, which both come with all-wheel-drive as standard, gets up to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. The ample torque from the turbocharged engine will still spin the front wheels even with the all-wheel-drive system – mostly because the CX-5 is a front-wheel-drive based vehicle that sends a portion of power to the rear wheels my test vehicle’s trim. Fuel mileage is 22 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined for the turbo engine. The base engine musters out slightly better numbers at 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
While everything is not about 0-60 mph times, the CX-5 still projects a premium feel and one that is more slated on the sporty side of things. The ride quality for starters, is a bit firmer than most, and the steering wheel is heavily weighted, sometimes to the point that you feel it necessary to use two hands to turn the wheel when maneuvering slowly through parking lots. Otherwise, the CX-5 has a quality feel to it, that carries through its fit and finish throughout the interior.
The interior of the CX-5, at least in the top-level Signature trim, is near on par with luxury vehicles. There are many soft-touch surfaces and accents for an overall premium theme. The only downside I find in the cabin on of the CX-5 is the short rear-seat legroom, placement of some controls such as the volume knob located on the lower center console behind the shifter, and the 8-inch color infotainment touchscreen locking you out from touch controls when you start driving leaving you to use the physical infotainment controller and buttons. Otherwise, the heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, Nappa leather-trimmed seats, rain-sensing wipers, power-fold rearview mirrors, and 360-degree camera system all elevate the CX-5’s standing among its competition. The one issue with the 360-degree view camera system is that it defaults to the rear-only view when putting the vehicle into reverse requiring an extra step of pressing a button for the full 360-degree view – something I find a little counterintuitive.
The now-standard safety features for all trim levels include the expected lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is a nice overall package in any trim level, which starts at $25,190 for the base FWD Sport trim. Moving all the way to my top-of-the-chain AWD Signature trim test vehicle, you’re looking at a price of $38,525.