But who am I to complain about a 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring SUV with front-wheel drive, especially when the CX-5 has been extensively reworked inside and out for the new model year?
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I like this new CX-5 better than what I remember from the previous versions. And looking at the standard feature-loaded starting price of $28,220 – a bargain given the overall package – I felt even more invigorated.
Naturally, my ride was dressed up with plentiful options to bring the bottom line to nearly $33,000. And while I like door sill trim plates, LED headlights and other cool stuff, I frankly would have been super-pleased with the standard, no-extras-needed offering.
The “Soul Red Metallic” exterior paint color probably influenced me, but I liked the aerodynamic profile of the tester. Likewise, the big smile of a grille with horizontal touches was easy on the eyes. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels. Nice.
Somehow, the redesigned dash seemed to line up perfectly with my quick-glance vision. Every time my eyes strayed for the desired control, the needed button/tab lined up perfectly with my line of sight. I must ask Mazda engineers how they did this, although perhaps it was all a coincidence.
Interior controls were a breeze to figure out, a blessing in my advancing age.
On the fly, this CX-5 is MUCH quieter than what I remember from CX-5s past. Mazda admits to using new materials. Whatever they used, it all works. Conversations with passengers were easily had, even on busy freeways.
The CX-5 was nicely responsive and nimble when I asked it to make some sharp cuts. It held high-speed curves with admirable stability.
The power plant on the tested CX-5 was a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 184-horsepower engine that I found willing and able. It tackled steep inclines with only the slightest of complaints.
Performance did not sap fuel mileage, which held serve at an advertised, impressive 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
SUVs have been selling well of late, a byproduct of what auto industry analysts claim was pent-up demand in the aftermath of the recession. Even so, I’ve lately wondered if motorists who recall the “Cash for Clunkers” days get nervous about buying sport-utes with sticker prices far north of $30,000.
For me, the CX-5’s comparatively affordable cost and plentiful comfort, convenience and safety features make it stand out from the crowd. The 2016 version gets a solid “B-plus,” and if you are in the market for a new, practically priced SUV, it should be high on your must-try test-drive list.