Mazda continues to push their vehicles into the luxury space as evidenced by this 2021 Mazda CX-5. Their Kodo design language has evolved with this new CX-5 showcasing the clean, elegant lines that allow it to stand out in a crowded field of compact SUV’s. Inside, you can move up a ladder of progressively more top tier luxurious features like Caturra Brown Nappa leather and a host of tech options. Let’s take a closer look.

Infotainment is an increasingly important aspect of a new car these days and the 2021 CX-5 steps up to the plate accordingly. Front and center is a standard 10.25” screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. A 3-year trial of Mazda Connected Services allows owners to monitor and control the vehicle status remotely and includes a Wi-Fi hotspot trial. For the driver, an optional TFT digital gauge screen can be customized along with a heads up display for pertinent driving information.

The CX-5 offers seven trim levels that build the luxury offerings as you move up through the options. The Touring model brings nice features like heated front seats, dual automatic climate control and rear USB ports. A premium Bose audio system, leather seating and ventilated front seats can be had as you step from Touring Preferred to Grand Touring Reserve. At the Signature level, look for real wood trim, that aforementioned Nappa leather and ambient LED interior lighting. Not too shabby for the compact SUV category.

Under the hood, you’ll find a naturally aspirated inline-4 making 187 horsepower or an optional turbocharged version churning out a class-leading 250 horses and 320 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic in both cases, the CX-5 puts this power down to the front wheels or all four on higher trim levels. In all cases, Mazda’s G-Vectoring comes standard. This slick vehicle dynamics feature adjusts power delivery and shifts vehicle weight when cornering to achieve a smoother, less fatiguing drive. Yet another subtle way Mazda gives the 2021 CX-5 a driving experience normally associated with vehicles that are more expensive.

Outside, the slim headlights, short front overhang and creased rear fascia show off Mazda’s Kodo, or “Soul of Motion”, design philosophy. LED headlights come standard with LED taillights and fog lights optional. The Adaptive Front Lighting System can change the direction and distribution of light from the headlights based on driving conditions. New this year is the Carbon Edition, which offers exclusive Polymetal Gray paint, gloss black mirrors and black 19” wheels. Other notable options include a power liftgate as well as power folding and heated side mirrors.

Mazda’s i-Activsense system of driver assistance tech is standard on all CX-5 trims. This suite includes radar cruise control, an automated braking feature with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist plus a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Less exciting but equally practical are the automatic high beam control and rain sensing windshield wipers. On the CX-5 Signature, you’ll find low speed emergency braking when in reverse, a 360 degree exterior view monitor and driver attention alert system.

The 2021 CX-5 combines a timeless exterior design with an elegant and luxurious interior. If you spring for the optional turbocharged engine, you’ll find a lively and fun ride with smooth suspension and responsive steering. The main drawback is the CX-5’s relatively small size; second row legroom and cargo space are among the smallest in the compact segment. Please take a look at the video above for more of George’s thoughts on the new CX-5. Drivers Only ranks the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature 96, click here to see how it ranks amongst the competition: Best Compact SUVs for 2020 & 2021.

Front-engine, front- or all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


16-valve DOHC 2.5-liter, inline-4: 187 hp, 186 lb-ft
16-valve DOHC 2.5-liter, turbocharged inline-4: 250 hp, 320 lb-ft

6-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 106.2 in
L/W/H: 179.1/72.5/65.3 in
Curb Weight: 3552-3836 lb

0-60 mph: 6.2 sec
¼ mile: 14.8 sec @ 95 mph
Top Speed: 130 mph
*Turbocharged engine

City/Highway: 22-25/27-31