Crossover & Midsize

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Does These 3 Things Well

While it’s not without its flaws, the Mazda CX-5 is consistently recommended by Consumer Reports for a reason. Despite lower sales figures than the Toyota RAV4 or the Honda CR-V, Mazda’s compact crossover can go toe-to-toe with more expensive models from BMW and Infiniti. And that’s because, for every one of its faults, the 2020 Mazda CX-5 has a strength to counter.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature has style and luxury

A front-3/4 view of a red 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD parked on a rainy street
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD front | Matthew Skwarczek

A vehicle’s looks will always be subjective. That being said, it’s tough to describe the 2020 Mazda CX-5 as anything other than stylish. Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend all have nothing but praise for the crossover’s exterior design.

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And it’s a similar story inside. I ferried some family members in the week I had the 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature, and they raved about the interior design. Plus, seeing as the $37,155 CX-5 Signature is the range-topping trim, the materials are suitably high-quality. There’s real wood trim, Nappa leather, and soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin. And while the seats are a little firm, they’re comfortable over short- and long-distance trips.

Although the Mazda CX-5 Signature’s 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder can be somewhat coarse, overall, the crossover is pleasantly quiet, Roadshow reports. I can personally attest that on the highway, road, tire, and wind noise is at a minimum.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature also comes with a wide array of standard features. The rear seats, steering wheel, and power-folding mirrors are all heated. The front seats are, too, and ventilated as well. The rear heated seat controls are housed in the center armrest, which also contains several USB outlets. There are more in front as well, though they’re in the armrest, rather than the center console. There is a 12V outlet located there, however.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD's rear cargo area, with a backpack and D&D books
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD rear cargo area | Matthew Skwarczek

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In addition to keyless entry and push-button start, the CX-5 Signature has a power-operated tailgate. Plus, in contrast to the industry trend, Mazda gives the CX-5 a full-size spare. It’s housed in a separate section under the rear cargo area, which also features a 12V outlet and multiple cargo hooks. And if you need extra cargo room, the 2nd-row seats can fold down in 3 separate sections.

All its tech and safety features are well-integrated

Part of the Mazda CX-5’s 2020 update was the addition of more safety features, Autotrader reports. Every trim now comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. It also makes the CX-5 a Top Safety Pick+. The Signature trim adds a 360° camera system, GPS navigation, and a heads-up display with traffic-sign recognition on top of that.

Admittedly, the Mazda CX-5’s 7” touchscreen is on the small side, Car and Driver reports. And it can be a little slow to load when you first turn it on. But with the navigation installed, it alerts you to the street you’re approaching. And turn-by-turn directions give you over a mile’s worth of time to get into the correct lane. Plus, the screen is large enough to use as a curb spotter when you’re trying to parallel park, thanks to the 360° cameras.

2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD gauge cluster
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD gauge cluster | Matthew Skwarczek

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature’s gauges incorporate digital displays, which, in tandem with the heads-up display, make using the ADAS features a breeze. The heads-up display shows not only your speed and surrounding speed limit, but also reminds you of stop signs. And if you have the adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring active, their respective alerts also show up there. Plus, in addition to the speedometer showing the speed limit as a red mark, the cruise control’s setting is shown in green.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is fun to drive

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‘Sportiness’ isn’t necessarily on every crossover shopper’s list of needs or requirements. But I’ve always felt that a vehicle that you have fun driving is one you’ll enjoy owning. And you don’t have to travel at illegal speeds to enjoy being behind the wheel of the 2020 Mazda CX-5.

The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes standard with all-wheel drive, which other trims can also receive if they’re equipped with the 2.5-liter engine. But each CX-5 comes standard with ‘G-Vectoring Control,’ which cuts torque briefly during turn-in to transfer more weight over the front wheels, Autoweek explains. At least, that’s how it works in theory. I didn’t feel it working, but then, it’s supposed to be seamless.

But even if I couldn’t feel it working, the rest of the Mazda CX-5 is still suitably sporty. The suspension is somewhat firm, but it’s never brittle or harsh. Road impacts are muted and well-dampened thanks to both the suspension tuning and solid chassis. The steering is weighty without being overly heavy, and even lets through some road feel. It’s not an MX-5, but Mazda did give some of its sports car’s character into the CX-5.

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