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Mazda Is One Step Away From Perfecting The CX-5 Crossover

Mazda's 2018 CX-5 crossover is the best in its class now but could rise above its peers with this one easy move.

Mazda's CX-5 two-row crossover is the company's most important vehicle. The CX-5 outsells the Miata by more than 10 to 1 and its sales of about 12,000 units per month are nearly equal to the combined sales of every other Mazda model in the American market. Although we love all of Mazda's vehicles, the CX-5 is the company's best mainstream vehicle offering, perhaps rivaled by the new Mazda6 Signature. Yet, the CX-5 is not perfect.

Mazda needs to compete with the likes of the excellent Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, and RAV4. These segment leaders all have one thing in common - none offer an up-powered engine. To keep costs in line with customer expectations, Mazda has so far only offered its 2.5-liter normally-aspirated engine as its top offering. Mazda wisely moved away from the lower-powered 2.0-liter engine in prior model years. It simply could not keep pace. Despite this reality, Mazda now has an ideal opportunity to take the CX-5 a bit beyond what the CR-V, Rogue, and RAV4 can offer.

Mazda 2.5-liter turbo engine

The key is the new Mazda 2.5-liter turbocharged engine standard in the CX-9 and now available on three of the five Mazda6 trims. This engine isn't a big-power engine with turbo lag like older turbos. Rather, it is tuned to have outstanding low-end torque and a moderate power bump over the base 2.5 engine. We have now driven it (twice each) in the CX-9 and Mazda6 and find it to be one of the best engines in the world. It transformed the Mazda6.

The top-trim CX-5 Grand Touring is the best CX-5 Mazda builds today. It has a fully-optioned price of $33,930 including its spectacular Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint and including destination charges. At under $34K there is clearly room in the price segment for Mazda to go a bit higher by adding the fantastic 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. Perhaps the trim would be called the "Mazda CX-5 SIgnature" and would be priced at just under $36K when fully-optioned?

We've spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring courtesy of one of our colleagues at Torque News who purchased her CX-5 after becoming dissatisfied with a BMW X3. The vehicle is plush inside, well into the Audi and Acura levels of sophistication and content. It handles very well, perhaps best in class, and it is also compliant over bumps. The CX-5 is currently the safety leader in the class as well. Mazda has the key to the last lock that will open the door to making the CX-5 standout and be the clear leader in its segment. Here's to hoping the company will put that key to use.

Related Story: Five Features I Love About My 2018 Mazda CX-5