Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

If you can’t tell a com­pact Mazda CX-5 cross­over apart from a sub­com­pact CX-3 or a three-row CX-9, you’re not alone. The CX-5 is a su­perb cross­over and a bona fide All-Star can­di­date de­spite Mazda’s Rus­sian-doll de­sign strat­egy with its small, medium, and large vari­ants.

“There’s some­thing new about the Mazda CX-5? Oh, right! It got a re­fresh!” Nel­son ob­served. “It feels ex­actly the same as it used to, which is to­tally fine—a plea­sur­able, mid­dle-of-the-road cross­over with plenty of space and style.”

The stylish CX-5 scored big points with the judges for its spunky per­for­mance, ag­ile han­dling, and af­ford­able price tag, start­ing at only $31,635.

The dash is a touch somber, but it’s also im­pres­sive with log­i­cal con­trols and but­tons in all the right places—we just wish the sun­roof were more than an af­ter­thought.

Es­pe­cially with Sport mode en­gaged, we found Mazda’s mid­dle-child cross­over be­haved ex­ceed­ingly well, thanks in part to the ca­pa­ble AWD system—on twisty mountain roads it re­sem­bles a big hot hatch or a stealthy sta­tion wagon. “Mazda con­tin­ues to im­press with its dy­namic pack­ag­ing,” Floyd said. “This is one fine-driv­ing cross­over. I just wish it had a lit­tle more, you know, zoom. (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)”

The op­tional heated steer­ing wheel and rear seats of the Pre­mium pack­age add $1,830 to the sticker but were an enor­mous plus up on Mount Charleston when tem­per­a­tures hov­ered around freez­ing. In the end, the CX-5 is per­fectly ca­pa­ble and em­i­nently agree­able, but in the midst of this year’s out­stand­ing All-Stars field, it un­for­tu­nately got a bit lost in the mix, like a sweet-na­tured soul adrift at an over­achiev­ers con­ven­tion. On the bright side, we have one in our Four Sea­son’s fleet to re­mind us how good the CX-5 is. — Ed Ta­haney

A Fully Ca­pa­ble, Dy­nam­i­cally Fun Cross­over

PRICE: $31,635/$33,785 (base/as tested) EN­GINE: 2.5L DOHC 16-valve I-4/187 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 185 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm TRANS­MIS­SION: 6-speed au­to­matic LAY­OUT: 4-door, 5-pas­sen­ger, front-en­gine, AWD SUV EPA MILEAGE: 23/29 mpg (city/hwy) L x W x H: 179.1...

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