A ’ute that’s still cute after all these years
2022 Mazda CX-5 remains stylish, gets some clever upgrades for this generation’s sunset years
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It’s been four years since we bought our 2018 Mazda CX-5, and while the 2022 Mazda CX-5 is, perhaps, the last refresh of this particular generation, no other affordable crossover quite ticks our boxes like our CX-5.
The styling remains fresh even as the generation nears retirement age, which is a compliment to Mazda’s design process, which makes sure each new design is moulded in clay before that final sign-off. The snouty nose, the detail creases along the sides and the gently sloping roof all combine to create a pleasing profile.
The interior still rivals the best of the luxury brands’, with materials, design and execution all at a high level.
Still, time moves on, and as vehicle generations get longer of tooth, carmakers have to step up with logical upgrades to keep the sales numbers perking along. Having raved about the handling and fuel economy of the CX-5 previously, I want to delve this time into what makes the 22 different from models before.
There have been improvements to the lineup every year since the first of this generation debuted in 2018. Some key additions include adding an optional 2.5-litre dynamic pressure turbo and G-Vectoring Control Plus (2019), off-road traction assist (on turbo models) and 360-degree view cameras (2020), the Kuro Edition with Garnet Red leather and wireless Apple CarPlay (2021). The year 2021 also saw the off-road traction assist become standard on all-wheel drive models.
G-Vectoring Control Plus adds to the G-Vectoring on our 2018 model: when you start to turn the wheel for a curve (turn-in), both systems dump an imperceptible amount of engine torque to add a touch of weight to the front wheels, making for more effective turn-in. Plus takes it a step further, adding a slight amount of braking to the outside wheel when you start to unwind from a turn, making that process smoother, too.
For a mid-year upgrade in 2021, Mazda updated the Mazda Connect infotainment system and changed to a larger 10.25-inch display, as well as making the full i-Activesense safety suite standard equipment.
For 2022, Mazda dropped the front-drive model making all-wheel drive standard, changed to new wheel designs for the 17- and 19-inch wheels, as well as a Sport Design trim with black exterior elements, including gloss-black cladding. Finally, for 2022, the CX-5 comes with Mazda Intelligent Drive with Sport, Normal and Off-road modes.
The tester has the 2.5-litre dynamic pressure turbo engine for added oomph without a lot lost in fuel economy. Our 2018 non-turbo model averages about 9.8 litres per 100 kilometres, while the turbo is sitting at 10.8. The dynamic pressure turbo is an innovative solution to the problem of turbo lag, which is the delay between stepping on the gas and getting full turbo action (it takes a brief moment for the added acceleration to translate into more exhaust, which is what spins the turbo).
The system employs a small bit of constriction on the exhaust flow into the turbo on acceleration: like putting your thumb over the end of a garden hose increases the pressure of the water spewing out, this constriction increases the exhaust pressure, accelerating the rate at which the turbo spools up. The constriction is opened up as the engine speed rises for easier exhaust flow.
Changes also include a switch to a wider infotainment screen and the latest appearance theme for Mazda’s system (matching what’s seen on, for example, 2020 and newer Mazda3 models. It’s the same basic controller, so Mazda has yet to update the controller (located behind the shifter) to its latest design.
An unwelcome change has been the elimination of a small lip between the cargo floor and the outside world. We appreciate that lip on our 2018 model, as it prevents loose items from rolling out when you open the tailgate. With no such lip comes no such protection.
Overall, the 2022 CX-5 offers great handling, power and fuel economy — without that annoying auto stop/start feature or a fun-deadening CVT on some models — in a package still pleasing to the eye.
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter
Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.