2018 Mazda CX-5 GT Review – The Miata of CUVs?

I’m sure you’re sick of hearing things like “Sport Utility Vehicles and Cross Overs are more popular than ever…” but it’s true, car makers like Ford and Chrysler are planning on abandoning sedans in favor of SUVs and CUVs. People just love these vehicles, I personally prefer cars, but I do see the appeal of a CUV, especially when I must carry a lot of stuff.

One of the more popular CUV in the small segment is the Mazda CX-5, which is Mazda’s best-selling vehicle in the United States, I’m sure in Canada it’s either the top or second highest volume vehicle for Mazda. With the introduction of the second generation CX-5 for the 2017 model year, the CX-5 has been selling very well, I see these sleek looking CUVs everywhere.

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The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is available in 3 trims, GX, GS, and GT. The GX and GS trims are offered with FWD or AWD while the GT is only offered with AWD. The GX model can also be equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission, a 6-speed automatic transmission is optional on the GX model and standard on the GS and GT.

In Canada, prices start at $25,800 (an increase of $900 over 2017) for the base GX trim with 6-speed manual transmission, FWD, and the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine. The GX with the 2.5-liter engine and 6-speed automatic transmission adds $1,400 to the price and an additional $2,000 for AWD. The 2018 GX trim can now be equipped with the i-ACTIVSENSE Package, for an additional $900 over the AWD equipped GX trim.

The GS with the 2.5 liter engine starts at $29,400 (an increase of $300 over 2017) with FWD and $34,100 with AWD. The GS trim can also be equipped with the Comfort Package ($1,500) and Comfort & i-ACTIVSENSE Package ($2,400).

The top of the line GT starts at $35,000 (an increase of $300 over 2017) and can be equipped with the Technology Package ($1,600). These prices do not include $1,895 for Freight & PDE.

The Comfort Package includes glass moonroof, advanced keyless entry, dual zone automatic climate control, and rear passenger vents.

The i-ACTIVSENSE Package adds Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with stop and go function, Smart Brake Support (SBS), Distance Recognition Support System (DRSS), Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane-keep Assist System (LAS), High Beam Control System (HBC).

The Technology Package adds HUD, Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR), and SeriusXM satellite radio.

Our review car for the weeks was the 2018 Mazda CX-5 GT with the Technology Package and optional, for a total price of $38,495, including Freight & PDE.


The CX-5 is offered with two engines, the SKYACTIV 2.0 liter 4-cylinder is only available on the base FWD with manual transmission, it produces 156 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The other engine is the SKYACTIV 2.5-liter engine, producing 187 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The same 2.5-liter engine, in the GS and GT trims, also comes with cylinder deactivation.

Our review car came with the more powerful engine, the 187 HP was more than enough the motivate this CUV, the engine felt quite peppy and it was quite fun driving in city traffic and the engine had a good amount of grunt for highway driving. Our tester came with cylinder deactivation and I did a lot of highway driving, which is where cylinder deactivation comes into play, I had no idea this feature was there and didn’t noticed anything different about the engine compared to the CX-5 I reviewed last year, the cylinder deactivation is very seamless, and I wouldn’t even have known about it had I not read the press material that came with our review CX-5.

The CX-5 is a very sporty CUV, it feels light and very nimble, it’s like the MX-5 of the CUV world. It’s quite fun to drive and is very sleek looking as well.

According to Mazda, the 2017 CX-5 GT with AWD and 6-speed automatic transmission should consume 9.8 L/100 km in the city and 7.9 L/100 km on the highway, an improvement of 0.4 L/100 km in city and highway driving over the 2017 CX-5. On our week-long review, we averaged 8.6 L/100 km in about 80/20 highway/city driving, which is pretty close to Mazda’s claimed numbers.


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I always thought the first-generation Mazda CX-5 was the best looking CUV in its class, with the introduction of the second generation CX-5, the first generation looks very outdated. The overall shape of the CX-5 remains the same, but every bit of the car has been fine tuned and looks much more refined. The design makes the CX-5 look like a smaller CX-9, a vehicle that has a very elegant design. I think the CX-5 is again at the top of the list in its segment based on its design, I think the Hyundai Tucson is its closest competitor.


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The interior on the 2nd generation CX-5 is another hit, like the outside, the inside is very nice looking with excellent fit and finish and nice materials throughout the cabin. The interior has a clean look to it and is very simple, giving it openness. Thanks to the use of lots of horizontal lines, the front cabin feels quite open and wide.

All the buttons are very easy to use and there is no learning curve like with some cars, the buttons are pretty intuitive to use. The infotainment system can be controlled with a knob on the center console, behind the gear lever, this makes flipping between radio/navigation/phone and other settings very easy and you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, this same system also came with the previous generation CX-5 and comes with all of Mazda’s other offerings.

Our review car had the Heads-Up Display, which is a real HUD, not a small pop-up screen. This display shows you your current speed, navigation directions, and even displays the output for the blind spot monitoring system, I really like the way Mazda has been doing their HUD, you almost never have to take your eyes off the road.

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The interior is quiet and there is a lot of room for the front and rear passengers. The rear passengers have more than enough head and leg room, the rear seats splint in 40/20/40, giving you lots of options for carrying larger items, with the seats fully folded, you can carry quite a bit of cargo.


The 2017 Mazda CX-5 can be equipped with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from modern vehicles, there’s a lot available on this CUV, especially on our top of the line fully loaded review car, below is a list of what you can get with the CX-5.

  • Keyless entry with proximity key
  • Push-button start
  • LED front and rear signature lighting
  • LED fog lights
  • LED rear combination lights
  • Adaptive front-lighting system
  • Automatic leveling headlights
  • Power glass moon roof
  • LED headlights
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Rear view Camera (wide angle)
  • Power liftgate
  • Heated leather front and rear seats
  • BOSE Premium Sound System with 10 speakers
  • Navigation system
  • 7” color touchscreen display with Mazda Connect
  • Heated steering wheel
  • 10-way power driver’s seat with memory (2 memory setting)
  • Advanced blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Smart city brake support
  • Distance Recognition Support System
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function
  • Forward Obstruction Warning
  • Lane Departure Warning System
  • Lane-keep Assist System
  • High Beam Control System
  • Traffic Sign Recognition System
  • Windshield-projected color Active Driving Display
  • Color Multi-Information Display

Final Thoughts

The CX-5 has been one of my favorite CUVs since I first drove it a few years ago, and it seems I’m not the only one, these things are everywhere where I live. The CX-5 is very practical for a family and all the stuff that comes with having a family, like carrying strollers, kids’ hockey equipment for practice, and those weekly trips to the grocery store. The CX-5 is also pretty fun to drive and loves twisty roads.

If you’re looking for a small crossover vehicle, make sure to check out the 2018 Mazda CX-5, you will not be disappointed. For more information on the CX-5 and other Mazda vehicles, please visit mazda.ca.

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Faisal is the cofounder and automotive photographer at Unfinished Man. He provides insider perspectives on the latest rides through his acclaimed photography. Faisal also serves as the site's watch expert, staying on the pulse of emerging timepieces. His seasoned eye for men's lifestyle products makes him an authoritative voice.

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