Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
2022 Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 ups its already great ante with new features

By Jim Bray
April 28, 2022

Mazda's great CX-5 SUV/Crossover continues to get even better with some upgrades for 2022 that up the performance and comfort antes.

It's my favourite model of the ones in this niche that I've driven – and even in some higher niches in which it doesn't pretend to compete, such as the luxury market. In fact, if you drove it back-to-back with some higher end product such as Lexus, Infiniti and the like, you might just find that the Mazda offers nearly as much luxury, but is easier to live with and more fun to drive.

How can that be a bad thing?

Click on the image to open a slideshow.

For 2022, those ante updates include adding its i-Activ all-wheel drive across the line, from the base model right up to the one of Mazda Canada's sample, the Signature Edition.

Fans of the CX-5 may notice that for 2022 the vehicle has also received a freshening of its already handsome exterior, with tweaked front and rear ends (wish I could tweak MY rear end!), with the front fascia getting a new "signature wing" extending out from the new grille. The head and taillights are also new, each of the lights featuring horizontally spaced, rectangular LED lights. New aluminum alloy wheels also enhance the vehicle's stance. 

Opt for the GT trim level and the 2022 version also gets you the option of a "sport appearance package" with gloss black finishes and an interior with red accents and stitching. Not a big deal, for sure, but still nice.

The Signature model also ups the appearance ante, with body coloured exterior cladding with bright silver-finished wheels. The interior is appointed with premium quality materials such as Nappa leather and real wood.

That's all well and good, but it's the driving experience that makes me love the CX-5, in any of its configurations, and Mazda says it has added some new capabilities there as well, with updates to its drive modes (I notice a new "off road" setting on the switch that used to just activate sport mode). The seats have also been redesigned for better stability (not that you have to worry about being thrown into the door every time you corner anyway!).

More important, Mazda says its six-speed automatic transmission (which was already darn fine, and has decently-operating paddle shifters) has been made even more responsive than before – and it was already one of the better trannies (can I still say that word as it applies to automobiles?). I like the fact that Mazda is swimming against the tide by not adding innumerable more gears as a fuel saving mode – which in my experience actually subtracts from the driving enjoyment.  

The now-ubiquitous i-Activ AWD system is very nice. Mazda says it monitors weight transfer continuously – based on your driving – sending power to the appropriate wheels, and I noticed that the torque vectoring feature makes apexing tighter curves more confidence-inspiring.   

The best thing about the CX-5's higher trim levels, however, isn't new for 2022. It's that wonderful 2.5 litre dynamic pressure turbo four that, even with regular fuel, puts out 227 horses @ 5,000 rpm and 310 lb.-ft or torque @ 2,000 revs; burn 93 octane premium and those figures go up to 256 hp and 320 lb.-ft. of torque, but who wants to buy premium these days unless you absolutely have to?

Fortunately, burning regular still makes this turbo four a very compelling engine, especially when you compare its output to that of the base CX-5 GX's  187 ponies @ 6,000 rpm and 186 torquey things @ 4,000 rpm – though to be fair that base figure is still quite competitive in this market niche.

But if you can afford it and want the best driving experience you can get from a CX-5, opt for the turbo; it's a peach!

Of course, there's more to great handling and driving than just power, and the CX-5 benefits from a nice and tight, sporty all-independent (struts up front and multi-link stuff "down rear") suspension, even in "regular" mode. The electrically-assisted power rack and pinion steering offers excellent feel for a mainstream SUV as well.

The brakes work as expected and desired. They're four-wheel discs (with ABS, of course, and the other typical aids most if not all vehicles offer these days) and perform well, with good pedal feel.  

You also get stuff like adaptive cruise control, forward-sensing pedestrian detection, shut offable (hooray!!!!) lane keeping assist, and high beam control. The upper trim levels also get you a seven-inch LCD info screen in the gauge cluster in front of the driver, wood trim, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Mazda's infotainment system is more than a little dated and more than a tad clunky, but it still works better (or at least in a more straightforward manner) than some newer ones. It's very slow to activate when you fire up the vehicle, but thanks to the knob/controller thingamajig on the centre console (there's also a volume control knob there, though the steering wheel-mounted controls work well) there's easy access to the stuff on screen; it may just take a bit of practice.

Mazda's sample also had a nice head's up display that you can customize. It's one of the better ones, too, and it's easy to see when you wear polarized sunglasses – unlike some of the competitors'.

Ah, but not all is perfect in the Mazda world when it comes to usability. For some reason, for example, Mazda has deemed that its power tailgate, which the driver can access via a button on the dashboard, won't open that way if the vehicle's engine is running. So, if your spouse is standing behind the CX-5 with arms full of groceries, you have to either shut off the vehicle before activating the button, or get out of the CX-5 and walk around to the back to do it. Even at minus 40 degrees Celsius. That seems kind of dumb.

Still, the overall feel of the CX-5 is of a mainstream vehicle that's priced competitively, yet offers more performance and more luxury that it would seem to have any right to. And how can that be a bad thing?

The Mazda CX-5 has always been good, and any of the trim levels will get you a nice vehicle – but if you're looking for that legendary Mazda "Zoom-Zoom" feel, you'll probably be a lot happier with the turbo version. It really rocks!

Mazda's sample CX-5 retails for $43,350, which includes two hundred simoleons for the lovely Polymetal Gray Metallic paint.

Copyright 2022 Jim Bray
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