The 2022 Mazda CX-5 Reckons to Steal Subaru Forester Customers

The 2022 Mazda CX-5 is getting people excited, except for people at Subaru, home of one of the CX-5’s biggest competitors, the Forester. Why? Mazda recently made all-wheel drive standard on all 2022 CX-5 trims. It’s a move that could lure Forester customers away.

Previously, the Subaru Forester’s ability to go off-road with standard AWD made it popular with customers who wanted off-roading capability. Now that the new CX-5 boasts the same capability, will Forester customers switch to Mazda?

Mazda’s small SUV has been a big success

A white 2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo Signature compact SUV travels on a road as the sun glints off the hood
2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo Signature | Mazda North American Operations

Debuting in 2012, the CX-5 is Mazda’s first vehicle to feature the Skyactiv technologies it developed. The automaker promoted the first-generation CX-5 in conjunction with the Universal Pictures film The Lorax.

Initially, the only engine option was a Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter inline-four producing 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. But it was reasonably fuel-efficient, with EPA ratings of 26/32 mpg city/highway with an automatic transmission and 26/35 mpg city/highway with a manual transmission.

In 2014, Mazda introduced a Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine harnessing 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.

Car and Driver gives the 2021 Mazda CX-5 a perfect 10/10 overall rating, deemed it an Editor’s Choice, and put it on the publication’s 10Best list. And C/D isn’t the only one raving about this compact SUV.

Consumer Reports also praised it and gave it an 83/100 overall score. It’s also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, the highest award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In addition, consumers love the CX-5, making it Mazda’s best-selling model, Forbes reports.

But the folks at Subaru might not be as thrilled with the 2022 CX-5, especially if they start losing customers.

The 2022 Mazda CX-5 could ride off with Subaru Forester customers

One area where the CX-5 has fallen short of its Subaru rival is that Mazda’s compact SUV hasn’t offered all-wheel drive on all trim levels. But that has changed for the 2022 model year.

According to Car and Driver, Mazda has made AWD standard on every new CX-5. Typically, the standard all-wheel drive gives the Forester a bit of an edge because the two SUVs are comparable in most other areas.

The CX-5’s base engine offers more horsepower and torque, while the Forester provides a bit more passenger room and cargo space. And the Forester typically has a lower MRSP, but the CX-5 offers a better infotainment system, a more luxurious interior, and Mazda’s signature handling.

The new Mazda CX-5 at a glance

To go with the now-standard AWD, the Mazda CX-5’s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Customers can upgrade to a 2.5-liter turbo-four harnessing 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. Both engines pair with a snappy six-speed automatic transmission. The base engine has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while the turbocharged option is a little lower at 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

Inside, quality materials give the 2022 Mazda CX-5 a luxurious feel. It still seats five but in more supportive seats than previously. The infotainment system carries over from the 2021 model. The 10.3-inch touchscreen display comes with center console controls, steering wheel buttons, and voice commands, making access easy. Also standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And Mazda Connected Services offers remote vehicle functions through a smartphone app and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot.

And like the 2021 model, the 2022 Mazda CX-5 also boasts a comprehensive suite of standard advanced safety features. They include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and even rear cross-traffic alert. 

Overall, you can’t go wrong with the CX-5 or the Forester. But it will be interesting to see if Subaru customers remain loyal to the brand or jump on the Mazda bandwagon. 

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