Mazda In The Game

It may seem amid turmoil and rebound of the auto industry that Mazda has been a little quiet in recent years. Though not introducing any breakthrough models — the new CX-5 Sport crossover utility vehicle offers strong evidence that Mazda is a company very much still in the game.

Sporting a distinctive and contemporary car- based utility vehicle exterior, and a tastefully simple but welcoming interior, the CX-5 is powered by a new 2 liter 16-valve aluminum, direct injection four-cylinder engine producing a modest but competent 155 horsepower. With fuel efficiency top of mind in today’s market, Mazda’s so-called Skyactiv program of weight reduction and efficiency engineering produces EPA ratings of 26 mpg city and 35 highway — putting CX-5 at or near the top of its class.

While Mazda leans heavily on its fun-to-drive image and motorsports cred the $21,490 base- priced CX-5 is not a jack rabbit off-the-line — though the short throw 6-speed manual transmission is a nice play-time diversion.

But the CX-5 more than compensates for a lack of raw power with a stiff and agile sport-tuned suspension and responsive electric-power assist steering that delivers admirable handling and a really pleasant ride quality for driver and passengers.