The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Drives Like a Champion In the Snow

If you’re shopping for a compact crossover, then it’s easy to see why the Mazda CX-5 is a great choice. It’s athletic driving dynamics, sleek looks, and well-appointed interior make it one of the top contenders in its class and what’s even better is that it’s available with all-wheel-drive. I actually got a chance to test this feature during a freak snow storm in Colorado and the CX-5 handled it like a champion.

You can drive the Mazda CX-5 with confidence

While testing the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature for a week, I couldn’t get over how confident and planted it felt when driving spiritedly. Its steering was tight and responsive as was the throttle pedal, and while it did ride comfortably, its suspension made it feel confident through every corner. Considering its larger size, the CX-5’s Miata-like driving characteristic never ceased to amaze me.

But then it started to snow.

2021 Mazda CX-5 in the snow the day after a snowfall
2021 Mazda CX-5 in the snow the day after a snowfall | Joe Santos

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Denver, Colo., area is known for getting freak snowstorms throughout the winter months of the year. One day, it will be nice and sunny, and the next, it will be pouring “sky dandruff” all over the place. On this particular day, it was sunny all afternoon, and once nightfall hit, the white stuff started coming down hard.

It’s nice to watch when you’re sitting inside, but since I had the Mazda CX-5, I knew it was time to put it to the test. The snow was unrelenting, to the point that I couldn’t see that well in front of me, but no matter what, the CX-5 never lost traction and I was instilled with confidence for the entire drive.

A rear shot of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 in the snow the day after a snowfall
A rear shot of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 in the snow the day after a snowfall | Joe Santos

The Mazda CX-5 grips well in the snow

Most all-wheel-drive cars are “reactive,” which means that while the all-wheel-drive system is activated at all times, it waits for the front wheels to slip before activating the rear wheels for more traction. However, according to Mazda, the I-ACTIV AWD system in the 2021 CX-5 is a “predictive” system, in which it monitors 27 different sensors over 200 times per second and takes the car’s wheel speed, engine dynamic, g-forces, and driver inputs into consideration when sending power to the wheels with traction.

An interior shot of the 2021 Mazda CX-5
An interior shot of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 | Joe Santos

For this reason alone — in addition to some well-performing 19-inch, all-season tires – I was able to accelerate, corner, and drive with confidence throughout my snowy journey. And despite the fact that it actually snowed about 12 inches in one night, the CX-5 never let me down and it felt almost as if it were perfectly clear outside.

A shot of the Mazda CX-5 Signature's 19-inch wheel
A shot of the Mazda CX-5 Signature’s 19-inch wheel | Joe Santos

How Many Miles Will a Mazda CX-5 Last?

If you live in a snow state, then get a Mazda CX-5 with I-ACTIV AWD

If you happen to live in a state where it snows frequently — or every so often, like in Denver – then I highly suggest that you check the box for “all-wheel drive” when shopping for a Mazda CX-5. No, it’s not exactly a four-wheel-drive monster that would you get in a larger truck or SUV, but for the times that you need to just get through some light-to-moderate snow, the Mazda CX-5 with all-wheel drive will definitely come in handy.