I am not a car journalist by any stretch, but here is my take on the Mazda CX5 for what its worth.
Wife had a list like this:
Find me a SUV/CUVwith Xenons, AWD, backup camera and 25 MPG on average for < $30K. I know she is crazy.
Stumbled on this car as it checks all of the boxes.
Drove down and test drove it, holy **** it actually looks the part too, very sharp looking car.
Seats, dash, trimmings, its all good, but not Audi great. Seats are very comfortable, but sporty. It's a combination between luxury and typical Mazda. Red stitching everywhere, decent leather, lots of piano black trim.
Steering is very quick for a car on stilts. Dare I say a little confidence inspiring. Feels planted but overall grip isn't up to how quick the initial reactions are. Quick turn in, but not a sports car. High center of gravity and skinny 19" tires.
Has good compromise between sport and comfort. Ride is on the firm side, but not harsh. Rough surfaces upset smooth ride. Great feedback for a car like this.
Brakes. Doesn't take much pedal travel, responsive. Good bite but decent stopping power.
Engine. Adequate is the key word. Will not plant anyone back in their seat. Flows with traffic. Want to drive like a douche and pass 3 cars on a double yellow. Nope. Torque is ok. Has decent mid-range and can get up and go a little bit, but not a highway monster by any stretch. It's all about fuel economy and sharp reflexes (for a 3300 lb CUV)
Transmission is kind of fun. Key is that it's geared for economy. 65 MPH at 2500 RPM, put foot down a bit and it won't downshift right away. Will try to speed up without downshifting. Constantly tries to maximize gas mileage no matter what basically. It's fun to get good gas mileage. Easy to get 30 + on the highway.
Looks. Kind of cool looking for a CUV. Kind of almost take a second look. Nice lines.
If you live your life a 1/4 mile a time and need to drive like a douche, move on. If you want a stylish roomy CUV with Dual Xenon Adaptive HID's ( really nice touch, very sharp and cool to watch them rotate 15 degrees as you turn the wheel ), sharp steering, Bluetooth, blind spot monitoring, heated mirrors/seats, satellite radio, etc etc etc this car might be for you.
We paid $29.6k for a Grand touring with tech pkg. Appears to get better than 25/31 for the AWD A/T too. I can't believe it, but I actually like it and did a double take when we parked it tonight after a long day picking her up.
Mazda has an absolute hit if only people can get past the fact its not a powerhouse. Very impressed and shocked I care this much to spend 15 minutes and write a review on it.