Mazda is one of those car manufacturers who give their vehicles minimal updates on a yearly basis, and the CX-5 is no exception. While not exactly a facelift, the small changes make a much bigger impact than they seem. That’s especially the case when the Japanese automaker introduced a new variant for its popular compact SUV. Say hello to the Mazda CX-5 2WD Sport.
Nothing has changed on the outside, except for the fact that LED daytime running lights and LED taillights are now standard across the entire range. With this 2020 Mazda CX-5 2.0 2WD Sport, it looks practically the same with the 2WD Pro, which isn’t really a bad thing. Sure, the wheels are smaller than the ones in the AWD variants, but it still looks suitably well-proportioned with the rest of the car. With its long hood and short rear deck proportions, the CX-5 is still arguably one of the most handsome compact SUVs out there.
Multiple changes were made in the interior. Though it doesn’t drastically alter the CX-5 ownership experience altogether, the changes are still welcome. Mazda has added a 7-inch digital gauge cluster and new climate control switches which bring the CX-5 much more in line with Mazda’s current portfolio. Information is displayed legibly and the design itself is simple and uncluttered. The switchgear feels more premium, but some people may find the knobs to be a bit too small. Still, the rest of the interior maintains its benchmark premium ambiance, with loads of soft-touch plastics and plush leather trims.
Space in the CX-5 is pretty good, though it’s not the most spacious in the segment. Mazda makes up for this by providing very supportive rear seats for long-distance drives. Additionally, the body is quite wide enough for three adults to avoid rubbing shoulders with each other. As for trunk space, it’s also about average for the class at 506 liters. Making things easier is the addition of a powered tailgate on all but the base 2WD Pro variant.
Infotainment duties are provided by the 7.0-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system. It’s still one of my favorite infotainment systems to use thanks to the logical menu structure and tactile controller knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all variants, while a nicely-engineered 10-speaker Bose sound system is also equipped in this value-packed 2WD Sport variant.
And value is indeed its game. Both front seats are power-adjustable in this 2WD Sport, along with two-person memory for the driver. Aiding ease-of-use is a power liftgate, which is now standard on all but the base 2WD Pro variant. As for the rest of the cabin, space in the trunk and rear seats is still not class-leading, but rear occupants will appreciate the sculpted rear seats.
Safety is also a strength of this value-packed 2WD Sport variant. It gets the usual six airbags, electronic stability control, and the benefit of a 360-degree camera system. It also gets a blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert.
With a smaller 2.0-liter inline-4 direct-injected Skyactiv-G petrol engine under the hood, you would expect that this would be the least fun-to-drive CX-5, right? Not quite.
This is my first time to drive a CX-5 with the base 2.0-liter engine, which produces 156 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. I’m glad to report that this value-oriented offering isn’t short in thrills at all. Unlike its competitors with a CVT, the CX-5’s 6-speed automatic delivers power with immediacy and gusto.
As expected, the smaller engine’s disadvantage over the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport and CX-5 2.2 AWD Diesel is felt when doing high-speed overtakes. The engine starts to run out of steam when overtaking from 90 or 100 kph. While the gearbox downshifts eagerly to compensate for it, the engine already becomes quite vocal at that point. Still, at 11.2 km/l over a week’s worth of use, the CX-5 2.0 2WD Sport is one of the most fuel-efficient petrol-powered compact SUVs I’ve ever driven.
With a lighter front end due to the smaller engine and absence of AWD, the Mazda CX-5 2WD Sport is more eager to change direction, too. The lighter steering just amplifies the CX-5’s tendency to be a fun SUV to toss around. I do wish its electronic steering had more weight and feel on center, but it’s just a minor observation
Mazda has retuned the suspension and added a few sound-deadening measures for the CX-5. Surely enough, it improves the CX-5’s ability to be a family-oriented SUV even more. Road and wind noise suppression are improved, while bumps are better dealt with than previous models. Also, the all-new Mazda 3‘s G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) makes its way into the 2020 CX-5. It’s more of a tool for improving comfort levels by smoothening out all of the driver’s inputs. As a result, turn-in, acceleration, and braking are smoother than before.
With this 2020 update, the Mazda CX-5 builds on the emotional appeal that the crossover always had but with the added value and features to make it more appealing to rational buyers. Three years since its release, no other SUV has quite matched the CX-5 in terms of emotional appeal, and in this segment, emotions are just as important as rational decisions.
The launch of this new 2WD Sport variant is also one of the brand’s best decisions yet. While the mid-level Mazda CX-5 2WD Sport may not be the absolute best CX-5 money can buy–it’s the best CX-5 for most people’s needs.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.6 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.