It’s fun when I get together with fellow car enthusiasts. We talk about what we’re reviewing and what we think of the latest fill-in-blank. But to really get to know someone, I ask them what they personally drive. For auto journalists that review a new car every week, they may not even own a personal vehicle. Others focus on class cars like old Mercedes while still others focus on efficient (one journalist confessed he drove an old Honda Accord with over 200k miles on it).
The reason I write about cars is because I love them. I love to drive them, I love to figure them out, and I love to own them. Lately I’ve been joking that my current car is almost two years old so it might be time to trade it in. The truth is that I still love my 2016.5 Mazda CX-5. I bought it a few months after I spent a week reviewing it and I couldn’t get it out of my head. It had everything I wanted including the perfect exterior and interior color. And to this day, I only have one real complaint: it needs vents in the rear (I’m still scratching my head over why they figured back seat passengers would be fine).
Still, I’m always ready to explore new vehicles and I thought a mother-son trip to Harrisburg would be the perfect time to test out a new vehicle. I wanted something that could be a family car but it didn’t have to be a giant SUV. And in return, I was bestowed with a 2018 Mazda CX-5 for a week.
Oh, this is going to be a piece of cake, I thought. I already knew I loved the Mazda CX-5. The only thing I was worried about is that I’d need to trade my “old” one in for the new one by the time the week was up.
So we set out for a few days of fun and adventure in our Soul Red Metallic Mazda CX-5.
Less than two hours later, we had arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with a well-planned itinerary. We were going to travel north of Harrisburg, east of Harrisburg (to Hershey), south of Harrisburg, and back home to the west. This was the perfect chance to get to know the 2018 Mazda CX-5.
And after we had eaten and toured our way through Harrisburg, we ventured outside of town for some sweet treats.
First, Hershey’s Chocolate World!
Then, onto the Turkey Hill Experience for ice cream!
We loved our time in Pennsylvania and we loved touring around in the NEW 2018 Mazda CX-5. But the real question was how did I feel when I went back home to my ancient 2016.5 Mazda CX-5.
Let me add that the two vehicles were alike in every possible way (except color). Both were AWD and both were the Grand Touring trim (the highest trim level). So I had to rely on the two most important parts of the driving experience: the aesthetics and the mechanics
The Aesthetics of the Mazda CX-5: Old vs New
If you didn’t notice major different before, you’ll certainly notice them now. The LED headlights are streamlined and the grille has been replaced.
As far as the rear goes, it has a wider overall look. So much so that I had to look up the measurements. The 2018 Mazda CX-5 has only increased in width by 0.1 inches but while we’re talking about the rear, I should note the nice addition of a power lift gate. I got used to that very quickly.
And the profile hasn’t changed much either except that the lift gate looked a little more elongated, the tail lights have been streamlined, and you’ll see an overall reduction in the body cladding.
And being a rims girl, I had to talk a look at the changes here. You will find different rims for each trim level but here we’re comparing Grand Touring to Grand Touring and I have to say I like my rims just a bit better.
Inside, you’ll see a lot of cosmetic changes as well – the biggest being noted from the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is more compact but to the right is where most of the changes come. The 7″ display has moved from within the dash to mounted on top of the dash, following suit with other Mazda redesigns. And thankfully they’ve moved the 12V power outlet to the compartment in front of the shifter instead of inside the console.
While the seats look similar, there was a definite difference in feel. The newer seats, while very comfortable, were a lot softer than I’m used to and I didn’t find them quite as comfortable on longer drives.
Overall, I liked all of the cosmetic changes but… not enough that I’m coveting a new Mazda CX-5. I’m quite happy with the one I’ve got but if I were in the market for a compact SUV, it would once again go on my short list.
The Mechanics of the Mazda CX-5: Old vs New
There’s not much to show you here. Both models have a 2.4L 4 cylinder engine. It gives you decent acceleration (especially in Sport mode) while still providing decent gas mileage. But there is one major driving advantage to the 2018 Mazda CX-5. It’s G-Vectoring Control.
You know how you take a sharp turn and you feel like your leaning into the turn? There’s a certain exit ramp near my home that makes me feel like I’m about to go careening into the woods every time I take it. But with G-vectoring control, your cornering stability is vastly improved. And I can definitely feel the difference as compared to my older model.
At this point, I’m happy to inform my husband that I won’t be badgering him for a new car anytime soon. Mazda made such a good car two years ago that I’m not really ready to give it up. But if you’re looking for a compact SUV, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at everything the CX-5 has to offer.
A More In-Depth Look at the 2018 Mazda CX-5
The vehicle shown here is the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD in Soul Red Crystal Metallic with Parchment leather interior. The MSRP is $30,945 but with optional equipment (illuminated doorsill $400, Soul Red paint charge $595, rear bumper guard $125, retractable cargo cover $250, Premium package $1395) and destination charge ($975), the total MSRP is $34,685.