The compact crossover segment is crowded with so many options that you probably can’t even name them all. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 probably easily come to mind, but there’s also another crossover you should check out – the 2020 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 continues to stand out with its more premium look and feel, plus it’s also more fun to drive than many of its rivals.

2020 Mazda CX-5 Review

The Mazda CX-5, just like the larger CX-9, is a stylish crossover with sleek styling that does without the gimmicks that its rivals sport. At the front there’s a large grille that makes the CX-5 look like it’s smiling at you as you walk towards it, this is a happy SUV, which speaks to its fun persona. From the side the body is neatly sculpted and at the rear it again looks more elegant than its rivals.

If you opt for the Signature trim level, like our tester, you get nice 19-inch alloy wheels with a dark-gray finish.

Inside the interior is all about class, just like the rest of Mazda’s lineup. The interior has a minimalistic feel without too many buttons and knobs. The materials are top quality and our tester even comes with Nappa leather and open-pore wood. That real wood is a nice upgrade and something that Honda needs to do with the CR-V. The Signature trim level amps up the luxury with other nice features, like heated and cooled front seats, a head-up display and heated rear outboard seats.

2020 Mazda CX-5 Review

An 8-inch touch screen sits on top of the dashboard, but sadly it’s one of the things on our list that need to be improved. The Mazda Connect infotainment system is not great with dated graphics and a hard to use interface. The system also has to be used via an annoying rotary dial once you’re on the move. It does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which alleviates the need to use the standard system.

Our second gripe with the interior is the lack of space. The luxurious interior isn’t big on space, especially in the rear where there’s a lack of legroom. Passengers over 6-feet tall will end up digging their knees into the back of the front seatbacks. Cargo space is also not great with a max 59.6 cubic feet of space for your stuff with the rear seats folded. The CR-V and Ford Escape offer more cargo room.

On the road, the CX-5 shines. The Mazda CX-5 is available with two engines. The base is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The base engine is more than adequate, but if you want to have more fun, there’s the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which only comes with all-wheel drive.

With 93-octane gas in the tank, the turbocharged engine has 250 hp and 320 lb-ft. of torque. But if regular fuel is preferred, the output drops slightly to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic, which seems a bit old school considering the number of eight, nine or ten speed transmissions that are available in other crossovers.

The naturally aspirated engine with front-wheel drive is rated at 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined, while the all-wheel drive version is slightly less fuel efficient at 24/30/26 mpg. The turbocharged CX-5 is rated at 22/27/24 mpg.

2020 Mazda CX-5 Review

The turbocharged engine is standard in the Signature trim level and it’s definitely our choice. The turbocharged engine brings the CX-5 to life with a more sporty driving experience than you’ll get in the CR-V or RAV4. The engine with its nice torque rating doesn’t need to be pushed hard to get the CX-5 down the road.

The turbocharged engine isn’t the only thing that makes the CX-5 fun to drive. Its steering has more feedback than many other crossovers and the suspension is up for the task when your path involves a few twists. There is some body roll, but again the CX-5 has a more athletic driving experience. The CX-5 also comes with G-Vectoring Control, which essentially puts more weight on the front wheels for more control.

On the safety front, the CX-5 comes standard with the i-Activesense safety suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and automatic high beams. The CX-5 also comes standard with automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 starts at $25,090. Our top spec CX-5 Signature starts at $37,055.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
Performance
Infotainment System and Tech Features
Fuel Economy
Value
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Marc Carter is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of The Torque Report. When he's not writing news or reviews for The Torque Report, he also contributes to Inhabitat.com.