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.
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 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.