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2017 Mazda CX-5 AWD

Like one of the Flying Wallendas, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 walks a figurative tightrope between passion and practicality. It’s a combination that has helped make the compact crossover SUV the brand’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past two years.

Despite being dimensionally similar to its predecessor, the new CX-5 looks both wider and longer thanks to a massive concave grille and slim LED headlights that accentuate the car’s width, as well as A-pillars that have been pushed back 1.4 inches in order to emphasize the length of the CX-5’s hood. The swoopy exterior cuts into the crossover’s cargo capacity, however, leaving the new CX-5 with just 31 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, down three cubes to the prior CX-5 and down eight to the Honda CR-V.

Nevertheless, the new CX-5’s passenger compartment benefits from high-quality materials, top-notch fit and finish, and adequate space for those seated in the front or in the two outboard rear seats. The new CX-5’s interior is noticeably quieter, too, with our sound-level meter registering just 67 decibels at 70 mph, or one decibel lower than a Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4MATIC.

Steady as She Goes

Motivating every 2017 CX-5—at least until the promised diesel engine arrives—is Mazda’s familiar 2.5-liter inline-four. Tuned to produce 187 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque in this application, the engine channels power to the CX-5’s drive wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that’s eager to downshift with only a slight prod of the pedal—a rarity in modern automatic gearboxes with maximum fuel efficiency as their overriding mission. Manual control can be assumed via the console-mounted shift lever, but there are no wheel- or column-mounted paddles. All-wheel-drive CX-5s continue to direct a majority of the engine’s torque to the front wheels most of the time but can send as much as 50 percent rearward when needed.

With a curb weight of 3678 pounds, our all-wheel-drive CX-5…

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