7 Things We Learned Driving the New Mazda CX-5

Moments after getting behind the wheel of the 2017 Mazda CX-5, we found that affordability (starting at a little over $24,00) isn’t the only thing the SUV has to offer. Here are the key takeaways from our recent time with the Japanese carmaker’s latest attempt to take our minds off those sport coupes we’ve been eyeing.

1. Good looks are relative.

Whether or not a car has a nice design can often be a matter of opinion. If it doesn’t strike an emotion at first glance, some people will immediately dismiss it as dull. Others, however, might welcome the idea of a more, subtle statement in the automobile. Then, there are other vehicles like the CX-5 that strike just the right balance in having an interesting look that doesn’t run the risk of becoming annoying down the road.

2. It's compact enough for the city (but just barely). 

The CX-5 might not be the smallest in Mazda’s lineup, but it is compact. This mean it can fit comfortably into those tight city parking spots with enough interior room to double as a personal camper if that rising city rent become too much to bare. Trying to fit more than two average size adults in the rear of the vehicle, however, is best avoided

3. There are more perks than your average Mazda.

Typically, when it comes to more affordable carmakers like Mazda, the design strategy involves sticking to the basics, without a lot of frills. The new CX-5, however, totally deviates from that idea with the addition of more premium offerings inside like heated fronted seats and a higher-res 7-inch infotainment touch-screen, giving the new Mazda crossover a much more luxurious feel when behind the wheel.

4. It's surprisingly powerful.

All three models of the new CX-5 (Grand Touring, Touring, Sport) come equipped with Mazda’s 4-cylinder engine, which you’re inclined to think won’t be nearly enough power to sell you on the SUV as a more practical option to that sports car you’ve been wanting. But when packaged with the all-wheel-drive option, the CX-5 makes the idea of going practical a little easier to swallow.

5. But it's all about the balance.

Behind the wheel, we were most impressed with how well-balanced the CX-5 felt on the road (which Mazda credits a lot to its new G-Vectoring Control driving dynamic). This is a big reason it's the vehicle being one of the best all-around compact to midsize SUV buys on the market.

6. The fuel economy is not a selling point, but it's respectable.

If fuel economy is your top priority, the Mazda CX-5 isn't for you — but neither is an SUV. When it comes to its main competitors, the 24 mpg/city and 31mpg/highway (in the front-wheel-drive model) is definitely noteworthy.

7. At the end of the day, it is mostly about the money.

It's hard not to come back to that ~$24,000 starting price. The CX-5 offers a lot of car for a low cost.