The entire lineup of Mazda SUVs has a fairly stellar reputation. The CX-5 is a compact crossover with a lot of positives to brag about. At the same time, there are a few obvious areas that it could improve in, mostly involving the amount of space inside. Since the 2021 model is part of the second generation of this SUV, which debuted back in 2017, it may be time for a complete redesign. That said, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is definitely a strong choice and worth checking out in further detail.
What's New for 2021?
Mazda keeps the CX-5 fresh with significant upgrades in 2021, such as a larger standard touchscreen. Smartphone integration features are also finally included across the board. While the diesel engine is no longer available, you do have a new Carbon Edition trim level to consider. This model adds unique styling flourishes to the CX-5. Reverse automatic emergency braking and a driver attention monitor are now available on select models.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Mazda CX-5 – The Pros
1. Fun Turbocharged Engine Available
Upper trim levels of the 2021 CX-5 are powered by a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine. When you fill the SUV with regular gasoline, this engine makes 227-horsepower along with 310 lb-ft of torque. You can squeeze a little extra power out of this engine when you go with premium gas, which brings the output up to 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. Mated to this engine is a six-speed automatic and provides the CX-5 with exhilarating acceleration.
2. Sophisticated and Upscale Cabin
Mazda separates itself from other brands with its plush interior, despite not being classified as a luxury vehicle. The seats are comfortable and available with upgrades to make them even more so. You can get climate-controlled seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and power-adjustment for the driver and front passenger. Available features like genuine wood trim and Nappa leather help separate the CX-5 from its competitors.
3. Strong List of Standard Features
It is true that the CX-5 is slightly pricier than most compact crossovers. This is justified by its extensive list of standard equipment, however. The entry-level Sport model has a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, for example. It also has plenty of high-tech safety and entertainment features, including HD radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
4. Engaging to Drive
Another area that the Mazda lineup excels in is its driving dynamics. The CX-5 is no exception, giving you responsive steering and plenty of reasons to smile when behind the wheel. This SUV is also available with all-wheel drive, which adds even more grip when whipping around corners. While the driver is having fun, passengers can enjoy the smooth ride.
5. Standard 10.25-inch Touchscreen
The newly standard 10.25-inch touchscreen brings along with it an updated infotainment system. Considering this was a major area of complaint in years past, this is a significant upgrade for 2021. The main area of improvement involves the controls, which are more intuitive. Now that smartphone integration is also standard, drivers should have an easier time getting the most out of the CX-5's available tech.
6. Gorgeous Exterior Design
The head-turning design of the 2021 CX-5 is another impressive selling point. It is available in a variety of attractive paint colors, including the very popular Soul Red Crystal Metallic. This year, drivers have the option of going with the new Carbon Edition of the CX-5. Doing so means getting an SUV with a black metallic grille, black 19-inch alloy wheels, and Polymetal Gray paint.
7. G-Vectoring Control Plus
All models of the 2021 CX-5 come standard with G-Vectoring Control Plus. This advanced feature helps to gently apply the brakes and reduce torque as needed while cornering. It is a major contributor to both the sportiness of the driving dynamics and the smoothness of the ride.
8. Generous Number of Driver Aids
Driver aids are becoming increasingly popular, meaning the 2021 CX-5 needed to up its game to stay on top of the competition. This year, the top-of-the-line Signature trim level adds a driver attention monitor and reverse automatic emergency braking. You do not have to go all the way to the top of the trim ladder to get advanced safety features, however. All models give you adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams, and much more.
9. Quiet at Highway Speeds
Thanks to its smart design, the CX-5 does an admirable job of reducing road and wind noise. This is even true at highway speeds. As a result, it is easy to enjoy a conversation or listening to music on the standard four-speaker audio system when you choose the 2021 CX-5.
10. Value for Luxury
The one thing that continues to attract buyers to the Mazda CX-5 year after year is the value it represents. This is likely the most luxurious non-luxury compact crossover out there. While it may be slightly more expensive than vehicles in its class, it is certainly more affordable than the options that are actually classified as luxury. The standard list of technology, driver aids, and convenience features just add to the overall value.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Mazda CX-5 – The Cons
1. Low Towing Capacity
Despite the impressive power offered by the turbocharged engine option, the maximum towing capacity for the CX-5 in 2021 is only 2,000 pounds. It is easy to find competitors that can bring along significantly more. Since not everyone tows things regularly, however, this may not be a problem for a large portion of buyers.
2. Below Average Cargo Capacity
The one area that the CX-5 will really want to improve is in the cargo area. It offers just 31 cubic feet behind the second-row and a maximum capacity of about 60 cubic feet. Adding to the problem is a small hatch opening, which can get in the way of loading larger objects. Some of the CX-5's rivals have significantly more space and a cargo area that is easier to access.
3. Cramped Rear Legroom
Although the CX-5 technically seats five, you will not want to put more than four people inside unless three of them are quite small. The middle seat in the back is squished and three sets of legs back there means no one can really be comfortable. Families with smaller children likely will not have an issue with this but those who genuinely need room for five adults will want to consider this factor.
4. Standard Engine Lacks Wow Factor
While the Mazda CX-5 is fun to drive no matter which engine you choose, the standard one is not nearly as exciting as the turbocharged option. The non-turbocharged does produce a respectable 187-horsepower, which may be enough for drivers. Currently, the turbo engine is only found in top trims. Mazda may want to make the turbocharged engine available on some of the lower trim levels moving forward in order to broaden the CX-5's appeal.
5. No Hybrid Powertrain Option
It seems likely that the CX-5 will be available as a hybrid in the coming years simply because this is the way the market is moving. In 2021, however, those after a hybrid will have to look elsewhere. While the fuel economy estimates for both CX-5 engines are considered decent, even the base engine fails to really impress in this area.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Mazda CX-5 vs 2021 Honda CR-V
One of the other top vehicles in this class is undoubtedly the CR-V. It has many strengths, including in areas that are weaknesses for the CX-5. For example, the CR-V has a very generous cargo area and has a roomier backseat. It cannot keep up with the CX-5 when it comes to handling, on the other hand. The CX-5 also has a longer list of standard equipment and an overall nicer cabin than the CR-V.
2021 Mazda CX-5 vs 2021 Hyundai Tucson
The Tucson makes a strong case for being a top contender in the compact crossover world. It has an impressive list of standard features and an appealing starting price. Unfortunately, it also has a weak base engine. Like the CX-5, it also suffers from a small cargo hold. Overall, the CX-5 is the more luxurious and fun option here.
If you do not need a large backseat or cargo area, the CX-5 is an excellent choice. On the other hand, if those are priorities, you may have to look elsewhere until Mazda addresses these issues. A redesign that increased the interior volume a bit would be a good thing, as long as it can be done without damaging the driving dynamics. Taking steps to increase the towing capacity would be another important step, especially if this SUV continues to have a cramped cargo hold. Still, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a smart buy for many drivers who are simply after a fun and luxurious SUV.
• Why buy a 2020 Mazda CX-5? w/ pros vs cons