After a week with the 100th anniversary edition of the 2021 Mazda CX-5, Richard Russell finds you don’t have to give up the joy of driving when in need of a family-friendly vehicle.
Mazda’s best-seller gets a pair of additional trim levels for the 2021 model year. The CX-5 Kuro and 100th Anniversary models both boast specific trim and features and come with the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine previously reserved for the larger CX-9 and Mazda6.
The $36,400 Kuro Edition comes in Polymetal Grey Metallic or Jet Black Mica exterior paint only. It starts with the GS AWD with comfort package and adds a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support and two-position memory settings. The passenger seat gets six-way power.
The 100th Anniversary CX-5 starts with the Signature trim level, which had previously been the top-of-the range model. It is available only in lovely Snowflake White Pearl paint, with Garnet red Nappa leather interior and matching red carpets.
The limited edition model gets a raft of unique trim items: head restraints, floor mats, wheel centre caps, and key fob embossed with the 100 years badge, unique dash and door panels, as well as white centre armrest with grey stitching.
The rest of the 2021 CX-5 lineup remains unchanged visually and mechanically but receives numerous technical updates.
The lineup starts with the $28,500 GX and $31,600 GS. All-wheel-drive is a $2,000 option in both cases and standard on all other models. Next up is the $37,800 GT. GX, GS and GT models come with a 187-horsepower 2.5-litre, normally aspirated four-cylinder engine paired mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The GT is available with a turbocharged four, producing 250-horsepower and 320 lb. ft. of torque on premium fuel for $2,000. If you want to save a few bucks at the pump, you can use regular fuel at the cost of 23 horsepower and 10 lb.ft.
The grade walk continues with the $42,050 Signature model, with the $43,550 100th anniversary edition topping the list.
Both major safety-rating agencies (National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)) have given the CX-5 top marks.
All 2021 CX-5s get a new infotainment system with a 26-cm touchscreen, replacing the smaller 18-cm screen used previously.
The new system comes with Mazda Connect interface, Mazda Connected Services (a Wi-Fi hotspot and access to remote vehicle functions through a smartphone app), and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system utilizes a rotary control and volume knob on the centre console.
We spent a week with the 100th anniversary model. Aside from the attention-gathering looks, it reminded me of how sweet a drive this compact crossover is. Everything from the instantaneous and linear response to inputs from either throttle or steering, to the balance of ride and handling is a Mazda hallmark.
The CX-5 in any trim, is proof you don’t have to give up the joy of driving when in need of a family-friendly vehicle.
This is a multi-purpose vehicle. In addition to class-leading driving dynamics, it is also a comfortable cruiser, able to absorb road blemishes without jarring occupants, and offer good utility for people and packages. The lack of road or wind noise adds to the impression the CX-5 is unrivalled in its competitive set.
The turbocharged engine provides excellent punch off the line and makes light work of passing or climbing steep grades. Fuel economy is good if not great, perhaps due to the manner you find yourself driving? The brakes are smooth, progressive and reassuring should you find yourself enjoying the performance too much.
Even if you are not an enthusiast, someone who goes for a drive for the simple reason you like to drive, the CX-5 has plenty to offer, especially when trimmed out like this 100th anniversary model.
The selection of materials and fit and finish are worthy of a much more expensive vehicle, a luxury car even.
The layout of instrumentation and both major and minor controls is not only ergonomically excellent, but pleasant to look at. Little things remind you how Mazda’s development teams, sweat the details. The accelerator, for example, is floor-hinged instead of suspended for a more direct and responsive feel. Armrests are all at the same height – a small but often ignored detail.
The CX-5 is not the roomiest crossover in the class, with a back seat and cargo area that are bettered by some. But, from the driver’s seat you don’t care about such minutiae.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Mazda CX-5 100th AWD AT
As tested: $45,500 including freight
Smart City brake support, advanced blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, lane keep assist and departure warning, 360-degree and rear-view cameras, pedestrian detection, forward obstruction warning, automatic high beams,
Navigation with traffic sign recognition, 23-cm touchscreen infotainment display with Mazda Connect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, 12-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, HomeLink,
Power, folding, heated mirrors, automatic levelling and adaptive LED headlights, air conditioning, push button start, remote keyless entry, electronic parking brake, tilt/telescope steering wheel, power locks and windows, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, power tailgate, front wiper de-icer, power sunroof, 10-way power driver seat with memory, power passenger seat, heads up display, 19-in alloy wheels, red Nappa leather seating surfaces, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors
Turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 250 horsepower, 320 lb.-ft. of torque with premium fuel; 227 horsepower and 310 lb. ft. with regular fuel. six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 10.8 / 8.7
Length, 4,550 mm; width, 2,115 mm; wheelbase, 2,698 mm; weight, 1,734 kg
Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue, Toyota Rav4, Volkswagen Tiguan