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L.A. Auto Show 2016: Mazda has a new CX-5

L.A. Auto Show 2016: Mazda has a new CX-5
Mazda's all-new CX-5 promises sportier lines, more refined handling and premium paint. (Mazda)

What is it?

Mazda has come to the L.A. Auto Show with an updated, upmarket version of its top-selling crossover. The company says its four-door, five-passenger 2017 CX-5 will boast better handling, improved interior, a sportier look and the sort of premium paint found on top European cars.

Why it matters

Mazda says the CX-5 accounts for as much as 25% of its global car sales, and moved about 100,000 of them in the U.S. last year. But competition in the small SUV segment has never been more intense. As the Hiroshima-based automaker continues to lag behind fellow Japanese rivals Honda, Toyota and Subaru, Mazda is aiming up — hoping prospective crossover buyers will see the CX-5 as a higher-quality choice.

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What’s new

Mazda has sharpened the exterior lines, reworked the interior and added G-Vectoring Control. First introduced on the 2016 Mazda6, this system electronically coordinates the engine, transmission, chassis and suspension to increase what the company calls "jinba ittai," a Mazda expression that is said to translate from Japanese as the feeling of connectedness between car and driver.

The competition

The CX-5 will continue to fight for affordable crossover fans of the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4 and Buick Equinox on the lower end — the current model starts at only $21,795 — but Mazda has hopes that some cross-shoppers will look at the CX-5 when they're thinking about more expensive vehicles, like BMW's X1, Audi's Q3, Acura's RDX and Lexus' NX.

The details

Mazda hasn't released key numbers for price or mileage yet, but has announced it will come with 2-liter and 2.5-liter gasoline engines and a 2.2-liter diesel model. Unlike previous CX-5s, and many other Mazdas, it will be available in the U.S. as an automatic only, with no manual transmission option. The company promises to begin delivery of this "SUV all customers will enjoy" in mid-2017.

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