Recently, we held a massive 2022 AutoGuide Compact SUV Comparison test presented by NRS Brakes. We are now going to take a closer look at one of the stronger finishers, the 2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S Carbon Edition.

Age is a strange thing. Despite being roughly as old as the outgoing Honda CR-V, the second gen Mazda CX-5 still looks and feels contemporary. Whereas the Honda is in desperate need of an overhaul, the Mazda still seems fresh, which is due in no small part to the slew of updates it has received for 2022.

Among the changes are a redesigned grille, new LED headlights and taillights, new aluminum alloy wheels, updated seats and Mazda intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive), a new drive select switch that debuts with the ’22 CX-5.

2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S Carbon Edition

For our test, Mazda loaned us a 2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S Carbon Edition (Kuro Edition in Canada). It slots in the middle of the CX-5 range. This model isn’t the most loaded but comes with a good number of standard features, including exclusive Polymetal Gray Metallic paint, dual exhaust outlets, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, leather seating, 10.25-inch digital multimedia display, and more.

Generally, the CX-5 proved to be a strong all-around performer in our compact SUV comparison test. It finished just off the podium in our test. It scored near the top of our test in handling, braking, interior and exterior styling, material quality and pricing. In fact, it achieved a perfect score in the latter.

Still a Looker After All these Years

With respect to design, the CX-5 remains one of the most attractive entries in the segment. Its slippery silhouette, bold grille and sophisticated LED headlight and taillight designs exude a strong premium character. In addition, its sheet metal, with its many interesting shapes and surfacing details gives the CX-5 a commanding presence from all angles. The Carbon Edition’s black trim, wheels, and Polymetal Gray Metallic finish make for a striking contrast that enhances the car’s visual appeal.

The air of sophistication continues in the cabin, where the CX-5’s interior design and its fine trim materials, which ranked first in our test, really stand out. The look and feel of these surfaces are simply the best in the category and Mazda designers should feel proud of their work here, indeed. The CX-5 also scored well in front seat comfort with good forward visibility.

A Bit Tight Inside

So where does the CX-5 come up short?
The biggest hit comes in the included features section, where it ranks ahead of only the RAV4. As mentioned, the Carbon Edition isn’t a bare-bones model, but some features are noticeably absent such as an around-view camera, ventilated front seats and panoramic sunroof.

The CX-5’s sleek design also comes at the cost of interior space, particularly at the rear where it ranks in the bottom half in both rear seat comfort and cargo carrying capacity. For the record, the CX-5’s cargo capacity is 59.3 cu-ft. (1,680 litres) when the rear seatbacks are folded down, and 30.7 cu-ft. (871 litres) when they’re upright. Max towing is rated at 2,000 pounds (907 kg), which isn’t much, but is in keeping with other entries in the segment.

Still a Fun Little SUV

On the road, the CX-5 is a spritely performer around town, with a firm – but not punishing – ride and well-balanced handling that makes it a fun car to zoom around in.

The Carbon Edition is fitted with the non-turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine (187 hp / 186 lb-ft.) that’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Acceleration from rest is impressive, and while the engine doesn’t pull as strongly as the 2.5 turbo at higher speeds, it’s more than adequate for daily driving tasks. Also on the plus side, the CX-5’s steering feels responsive and cabin noise isn’t excessive.

Because the 2.5 here is the non-turbo, the CX-5 didn’t rate as highly as more powerful entries, such as the Tiguan, Bronco Sport and its own CX-50 sibling. But its braking and handling were among the best in our comparison.

Verdict: 2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 S Carbon Edition

Overall, the CX-5 is one of the strongest all-around performers in the compact SUV segment. It does almost everything well. And while it’s not the most powerful, nor does it have the most standard equipment, and is a bit short on cargo space, it makes up for its shortcomings with attractive styling, a premium cabin, a fun-to-drive character and the lowest starting MSRP in our test.

The CX-5 may have just missed the podium in our comparison, but its many virtues, combined with constant improvements from Mazda, should keep it near the top of most shopping lists in the segment.