Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 has been a big success for Mazda. They’ve increased production three times since it came to market and they are still supply-limited in the United States, and unable to meet demand around the world. The only thing that’s been holding it back from being the clear benchmark in the compact SUV segment is the lack of suitable engine.

For 2014 they’ve addressed that, with an all-new, 2.5-liter version of their vaunted Skyactiv engine. Sharing almost no parts with the smaller 2.0-liter that’s still standard in the Sport model, the bigger mill utilizes the same combustion technology, including a very high compression ratio and racing-derived 4-2-1 exhaust header, to create high specific outputs and squeeze more energy out of each gallon of gas.

Horsepower now stands at 184, and never have only 29 ponies more felt so different; they brings the CX-5’s chassis—the best in the segment—to life; the Mazda’s now fun most all the time, and doesn’t suffer the strained feeling of the smaller-engined version. There’s almost no penalty either; fuel economy drops at most 1mpg, and remains at the top of the class. Torque is now abundant right from the off, and peaks 750rpm lower at 185lb-ft. Pretty much everything else remains as before: compelling Kodo-based styling, a richly appointed interior, amazing handling, a quite, refined ride, and very competitive pricing. The only remaining question is how they’ll build enough to ever meet demand.

EPA ratings: 24/30; 26mpg combined (AWD)
Price as tested: $31,290
Here’s Mazda’s take on the new CX-5.