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With its outstanding fuel economy, functional, well-built interior, stellar safety ratings and excellent overall driving experience, the stylish 2015 Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorites in the small crossover SUV class. If there’s a small crossover in your future, this Mazda should be on your short list.

Although there are many reasons to like the 2015 CX-5, this Mazda is one of those vehicles that just makes your life easy. It’s very comfortable to drive to work or run errands in with the kids, and you’ll have no problems seeing out of it or parking it. In addition, the 2.5-liter engine that’s standard on most trim levels offers strong acceleration while returning class-leading fuel economy. If you venture out of town for the weekend, you’ll find that the CX-5’s smooth ride, generally quiet cabin and comfortable seating make it a great road trip vehicle as well.

The 2015 Mazda CX-5 is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels.

The base Sport comes standard with 17-inch wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface. The optional Bluetooth Audio package adds Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a touchscreen interface, HD radio, Pandora Internet radio, automatic crash notification, SMS text message reading and audio system voice controls.

The Touring includes all the Sport’s equipment and the contents of the Bluetooth Audio package. It also features a more powerful engine, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system, a six-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat, a six-speaker sound system, upgraded cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system. The Moonroof and Bose Audio option package adds a sunroof and an upgraded nine-speaker Bose audio system.

The Grand Touring includes all of the Touring’s equipment, plus 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic windshield wipers, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and leather upholstery.

Performance

In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive CX-5 with the 2.0-liter engine went from zero to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds, which is on the slow side for a small crossover. The EPA’s estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway) on automatic-transmission front-drive models; the manual version also rates 29 combined but gets a 35 mpg highway estimate. With AWD and the automatic, estimates drop to 28 combined (25 city/31 highway).

Interior design

Regardless of the trim level, the cockpit of the Mazda CX-5 is attractive, modern and functional. It’s a mature design, and it isn’t swathed in poorly rendered fake wood or highly reflective chrome trim. Instead, materials are simple and high in quality, and soft-touch surfaces are set off with limited use of satin-finish metallic details. The CX-5’s black gauges with white lettering are also highly legible.

Most Mazda CX-5 drivers will be able to find a good driving position, and front seat comfort is excellent on long road trips. The backseat is spacious and offers plenty of legroom for this class.

Driving impressions

Equipped with the base 2.0-liter engine, the Mazda CX-5 offers competitive power on paper, but out in the real world, it just doesn’t feel that strong during merging and passing maneuvers. For the majority of small crossover shoppers, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder (which is standard on most trims) is a much better choice given its superior power and minuscule fuel economy penalty. Either way, the six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly and is one of the most responsive transmissions in this class.

Easily the most striking thing about the 2015 Mazda CX-5 is its athletic character. Even if you’re just looking for a small crossover to drive to work every day, you’ll notice that its brakes, suspension and steering are uncommonly capable for a vehicle in this class. It’s an enjoyable vehicle to run errands in, and if you happen to turn onto a road with twists and turns, the CX-5 can be downright fun. On the highway, the Mazda rides just as comfortably as any other crossover.

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