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With the Mazda CX-5, the Hiroshima, Japan-based automaker seems to have finally cracked the compact crossover code. Built pretty much from scratch, the CX-5 enjoys an all-new unibody design whose decided rigidity makes an excellent platform from which Mazda’s engineers could extract spaciousness, comfort, and sporty handling attributes.

Power comes from a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine producing 150 ft-lbs of torque. Anyone who has paid much attention to Mazda product over the years knows the company has sort of a thing for under powering its vehicles on paper. And indeed, the CX-5’s output numbers do come across as somewhat underwhelming when reviewing the specifications chart. However, on the road, the 2-liter powerplant does a more than adequate job of motivating the crossover.

Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg in the city, 35 on the highway and 29 combined with the manual. Highway mileage drops to 32-per with the automatic, while the other fuel economy figures remain constant.

Three levels of trim are offered; Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Opting for the Sport version of the CX-5 gets you the six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, which helps you get the most out of the engine. The Mazda CX-5’s six-speed automatic transmission is optional for the Sport model, but standard equipment on all other versions of the CX-5. Front-wheel drive is the default offering, however all-wheel drive is selectable for any of the three trim packages.

A broad array of highly desirable features characterizes the Mazda CX-5’s equipment list. Full power accessories and alloy wheels enhance the Sport model, while a rear camera, Bluetooth, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, and leather upholstery for the steering wheel grace the Mazda CX-5 Touring. Spring for the CX-5 Grand Touring, you’ll add leather seating, and an automatic climate system. Keyless operation, smart xenon headlights, and a GPS-based navigation system are optional bits of kit.

The rear seat split folds in the Touring and Grand Touring versions of the Mazda CX-5 in a 40/20/40 configuration. This gives you the ability to haul both people and additional cargo in the Mazda’s back seat simultaneously, with the added flexibility of folding only certain parts—or the Mazda’s entire back seat.

All of this goodness, combined with the CX-5’s athletic nature makes it a worthy consideration for anyone shopping in this category. The only obvious wart is the styling. Mazda’s new front-end treatment can come across as heavy handed on the smaller vehicles in the line up. Whether or not it appears that way in this case—well, that’s for you to decide.