The 2022 Mazda CX-5 Signature: Luxury Feel Without the Luxury Pricetag

Maxda Cx-5 Featured Image
Maxda CX-5 Featured Image
Annika And The Cx-5. Photo: Annika Carter
Me with the CX-5. Photo: Annika Carter

Who doesn’t like to be a little “bougie” at times?

In the car world, it’s typical that when something feels expensive, it actually is expensive. In recent years, Mazda has been challenging this standard, and the 2022 Mazda CX-5 is no exception. 

With an MSRP starting around $26,000 and the Signature model as I tested sitting just under $39,000, the Mazda CX-5 delivers Mercedes-esque luxury with a Toyota price tag. The beautiful bodywork, impeccable comfort, and leather- and wood-adorned interior make this car feel at home in high society. 

Related: The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD: A Compact SUV For all of Life’s In-Between Moments

2022 Mazda Cx-5 Exterior. Photo: Annika Carter
2022 Mazda CX-5 exterior. Photo: Annika Carter

What Is Kodo? A Quick Lesson In Mazda Design

At first glance, the 2022 Mazda CX-5 may look almost identical to the previous generation. At second glance, we can see the smoother lines at the front and rear of the car, a distinctive new texture in the grille, more aggressive angles of the front trim pieces, and reshaped headlight and taillight LEDs. These changes give the car a subtly more aggressive look. Mazda’s Kodo design language, which focuses on minimal yet sophisticated design, is a breath of fresh air compared to the ever-futuristic, complex designs that are beginning to dominate the road. 

The sophisticated simplicity is carried on inside the car, with a leather- and wood-trimmed dashboard without any extra flashy bits and pieces to distract from the elegance of it all. The chocolate brown leather seats are so dark they almost seem black at first. They were adapted in 2022 for extra comfort, and are heated and cooled to keep the driver comfortable at all times. The seats, as well as the heated steering wheel, can even be set to automatically turn on and off in conjunction with the climate control system to better maintain a comfortable environment in the coldest winters and hottest summers.

Related: Built for America: Stylish and Capable, the New 2022 Mazda CX-50 First Drive

Mazda Cx-5 Front Seat. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 front seat. Photo: Annika Carter

Now That We Understand Kodo, Let’s Discuss Jinba-ittai

Multimedia in the 2022 Mazda CX-5 delivers the same satisfaction as the rest of the interior. The Bose sound system in the Signature has crisp sound with plenty of bass, if that’s your jam. The larger 8-inch multimedia screen may seem purely minuscule compared to the massive iPad-looking screens many manufacturers are fitting in their new vehicles. However, I enjoy the tactile feel of buttons and think this screen is just the right size to be noticeable while driving without distracting from the artistic design of the interior.

You can control the screen with a wheel mounted on the center console just in front of the armrest, next to the volume knob. While this may seem like a small detail, I love being able to control the multimedia screen and the volume without having to lift my arm from where it sits on the armrest. This is indicative of Mazda’s Jinba-ittai philosophy — a philosophy of designing the car around the driver. Mazda focuses on making the connection between driver and car as close and intimate as the connection between a rider and his horse. I think Mazda accomplishes this quite well.

Related: Mazda CX-5 vs. Mazda CX-30: Which Compact SUV Is Right for You?

Maxda Cx-5 Center Stack. Photo: Annika Carter
Maxda CX-5 center stack. Photo: Annika Carter

Finding the Fine Line Between Stiff and Floaty

Driving the CX-5 reminds me of driving my dad’s BMW, except the CX-5 feels even more refined. All-wheel drive comes standard on the turbocharged and naturally aspirated models. This results in the car hugging corners — a feature that can be rare in top-heavy SUVs. Additionally, you can program the drivetrain to an adaptive mode at the click of a button. Therefore, the CX-5 can tackle all weather conditions and terrains.

The brake pedal gives you enough feel to comfortably stop without being overly touchy. The suspension of the CX-5 received a subtle update in 2022, giving a ride that is neither stiff nor floaty. This is a fine line I believe many crossovers and SUVs have difficulty attaining. Plus, it maintains the comfortable ride of cars with a higher price tag.

Related: 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Edition Review: Go Ahead, Put the Top Down and Get Your Hair Messy

Mazda Cx-5 Side View. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 side view. Photo: Annika Carter

The 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the Signature model I drove produces a peppy 250 horsepower. This is plenty of get-up-and-go to safely merge with traffic, comfortably accelerate up a hill, or quickly get past a slow-moving vehicle. Sure, it isn’t as conventionally fast as the cars I am used to (coming from a racing background), but this isn’t a car made to be driven fast. It is a car made for toting clients around in style, cruising to the beach on the weekend, or being the talk of the pick-up line at school.

Compared to modern hybrid and EV powertrains, the fuel economy of the CX-5 leaves a bit to be desired. It even falls a little short of some similarly-priced competitors. The turbocharged model sits at 22 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. I will attest that with my standard driving (which has a tendency to be a little lead-footed…that’s the race car driver coming out), I was able to replicate an average statistic on the higher end of this range with suburban driving.

Related: What Do Milan Design Week and Mazda Have in Common?

Mazda Cx-5 Exterior. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 exterior. Photo: Annika Carter

The 2022 Mazda CX-5 Does Not Skimp on Safety Features

In today’s world, no car review is complete without discussing safety. Once again, the CX-5 delivers. Mazda ensures the safety of its drivers with lane departure and lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring. Additionally, the CX-5 has rear cross-traffic alert, emergency brake assist (in drive and reverse), front and rear parking sensors, adaptive radar cruise control with stop and go, and an overhead 360-degree camera system. The heads-up display even shows notifications when there is a car in your blind spot, and it can read speed limit signs to indicate the accurate limit on the road you’re currently driving. 

Mazda Cx-5 Wireless Charging. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 wireless charging. Photo: Annika Carter

There Are a Couple Things to Consider

Now, no car is perfect. The CX-5’s cargo space is nothing to write home about — it is purely average. The center console on the CX-5 is too small. With my phone plugged into the USB port for Android Auto, I had to awkwardly position it at a steep angle in order to close the center console while being careful to not close the cord in the lid. Mazda does provide a small insert for the console for storing items such as chapstick or loose change. However, I don’t see the benefit in using this insert when it simply takes up valuable room. 

Mazda Cx-5 Center Console. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 center console. Photo: Annika Carter

My second hang-up is the stalk to adjust gauge brightness and switch between MPH and KPH. On my 2021 Mazda 3 Turbo, gauge brightness is adjusted using two buttons on the dash surrounding the gauges. I will be honest, I don’t remember how to switch between MPH and KPH, but as someone who doesn’t frequently drive from the US to Canada, I am not finding myself needing to change the units on my gauges on the fly (and I would beg to ask…who does?). On the 2022 CX-5, Mazda has inserted a thin plastic rod through the glass gauge cover (think a longer and thinner version of what we used to use to reset trip odometers). Turning the stalk adjusts brightness, and pressing the stalk quickly and easily converts from MPH to KPH.

Mazda Cx-5 Cluster And Stalk. Photo: Annika Carter
Mazda CX-5 driver information cluster and the brightness adjustment stalk. Photo: Annika Carter

I found this stalk to be out of place in such a high-end vehicle. After I noticed it, I couldn’t “un-see” it. Every time I glanced at the gauges, it was staring right back at me! I feel that Mazda could have integrated these features in a much more elegant way, as they did on my 2021 Mazda 3 Turbo, rather than having this plastic rod that looks like it belongs in a vehicle at half the cost. 

I adore Mazda’s styling, and the luxury at the price is truly unbeatable. If I found myself in the market for a crossover, you can bet the CX-5 would be on my list!

Disclosure: Mazda provided the 2022 CX-5 for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Annika Carter has over four years of performance driving experience, both with and without professional instruction. She has driven... More about Annika Carter