Owner Review: 2021.5 Mazda CX-5 GT Turbo

Japanese crossover beat out German luxury CUV with first-class cabin and fun-to-drive handling

Article content

If you’ve purchased a vehicle in the past year and want to share your experiences with Driving.ca readers, we want to hear from you! Send us a note telling us a bit about the vehicle you bought to [email protected] and you might be covered in an upcoming Owner Review.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Many people would think there’s a significant difference between Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Mazda. But not so for Calgarians Ed and Diana Reuther, who last year bought a 2021.5 Mazda CX-5 GT Turbo. In July 2021, the pair thought it might be time to upgrade their 2016 Honda Civic EX.

“It was a great car and fun to drive,” Ed says of the Civic, “but we were thinking we needed something more versatile, and not have to worry about heading out to our cabin or to Banff at any time of the year.” That meant shopping for a vehicle with all-wheel drive, easier ingress and egress, and a bit more utility.

Ed at the wheel of the Mazda crossover.
Ed at the wheel of the Mazda crossover. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

“My primary criteria when purchasing a vehicle is reliability, comfort, performance, features and styling, and I always check Consumer Reports,” he says, and he began a search online and narrowed their choices down to the Mazda CX-5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and both the Lexus UX 250H and NX 250.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are two premium brands, but I put Mazda up there with them,” Ed says. “Our son and daughter each have a Mazda3, and they just love them. And our neighbour has a CX-5, and I went and talked to her, and she just raved about it – so we thought we’d head to Mazda first.”

With a $50,000 budget, they looked at and drove a new CX-5 GT Turbo, and then drove a used 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC (it had 48,000 km on it and was just under $50,000). They didn’t drive either Lexus as they didn’t like some features including the dash configuration. By the end of August, the vehicle they kept talking about was the Mazda. Their dealership, North Hill Mazda, allowed them to take one overnight, and that convinced Diana the vehicle was for them. Ed says he was already sold on it by that time, and in late August, for just a bit less than $47,000, they bought a new 2021.5 model in Machine Grey Metallic. That gave them 19-inch wheels, heads-up display, leather seating surfaces and a plethora of other niceties including heated and cooled 10-way power driver’s seat and 6-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, dual-zone climate controls and a navigation system. But it was also the last year Mazda offered the optional Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, something that was important to Reuther as he appreciates a little extra power.

Advertisement 4

Article content

“That engine makes 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on regular fuel, or 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque running premium – that’s pretty good, and that appealed to me,” he says.

The engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that transfers power to four corners of the CX-5, giving them the important all-wheel drive feature they wanted.

“We’ve been running the premium fuel, and the power is great,” he says. “And the transmission is very smooth, and the shift points are excellent. I’m very impressed with the powertrain.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Ed says the Mazda’s ride is stable, and the handling is responsive. In fact, he says the Mazda is as nice on the road as the Mercedes-Benz they tested.

“Everything in it is first class and very clean and elegant,” he says of their Mazda. “All controls are at your fingertips, and it’s really quiet. There are no gaps or rattles and it’s very well put together.”

The styling, which Reuther referred to as being Teutonic, is slightly aggressive and affords an overall appeal that’s classy but modern. Mazda wraps the 19-inch alloy wheels in Toyo tires, and after adding 4,120 kilometres, Reuther is impressed with their performance so far.

“The Mazda Commander knob (this controls the touchscreen, without physically having to touch the screen), is a joystick style and it’s easy to use,” he says. “You can configure everything in there, and I’ve disabled the lane keeping assist feature because I don’t want the vehicle nudging me around.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“But I’ve grown to quite like the blind spot monitoring and many of the other safety technologies in the car.”
Ed enjoys listening to an eclectic variety of music while driving and will often tune into the CKUA radio network. The Bose stereo in their CX-5 has good sound, he says.

Advertisement 7

Article content

At 5-feet 11-inches tall, he says he has no trouble finding a comfortable driving position. Even their 6-foot 4-inch tall son, who sat in the back and enjoyed the heated seat, says he had no problem with leg room. Also appreciated is the power rear liftgate with access to the 875 litre cargo space with the passenger seats upright, or 1,687L with the rear seats folded flat.

“We haven’t loaded it up with too much cargo yet, but there’s plenty of room back there,” Reuther says. “I’m really looking forward to driving it in the mountains this year.”

Summing up, Ed says, “Both the Lexus and the Benz are fine automobiles, with the Benz likely coming out slightly on top for front seat comfort, but we still are fine with the slightly firmer seats in the Mazda, and they seem to have become more comfortable the more we sit in them.”

Advertisement 8

Article content

He concludes, “In the end it was the overall dollar-value proposition, as well as many other features such as the nice dash layout with 10.25-inch display, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated outboard rear seats with USB ports, good sound system, great safety features plus quality and reliability that put the Mazda in first place.”

Other Owner’s Opinions

Ed and Diana Reuther are not alone in their sentiments about the Mazda CX-5. Other owners writing about their experience with the model at edmunds.com say much the same.

On June 20, 2021, an owner wrote, “The CX -5 GT is equipped better than most luxury compact SUVs. Mazda has taken care to build the car so it’s pleasing to the eye yet is very fun to drive. It comes standard with more equipment than many luxury brands and at a reasonable price. The turbo 4 has plenty of power and can run on regular fuel. Originally we were looking at the Lexus NX, Acura RDX and Audi Q5, yet the Mazda comes better equipped and at a far lower price.”

Another owner, posting on July 7, 2021, said, “Sporty and so much fun to drive. So many extras make this a dream to drive. I am loving my Mazda!”


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.