I drove several SUVs (Honda CRV, Suburu Forester, VW Tiguan) and although all had their ups and downs, I liked the "feel" of the Mazda and Tiguan the best. They seem to pay a bit more attention to the handling ergonomics of the car with the driver's pleasure in mind. My other car is a 325 BMW and although the CX5 doesn't come real close to the road feel and handling of that car, it was as good as it gets in a compact SUV, I felt. Most importantly, it is a fun to drive vehicle that is comfortable on a windy road.
The CX5 seems to use high quality materials throughout the inside and outside and is put together well. I like the feel of the doors when they open and close the materials chosen for the seats and dash and in general it seems like a well made car that will last a long time. Some of the other SUVs I drove did not have quite the same level of quality feel, or looked like they used cheaper materials. This is somewhat subjective of course, but that's my impression. So far, after 7 months of ownership, I have yet to have any problems, so hopefully that trend will continue!
Being a "green" thinking person, I liked the fact that the Mazda has the best fuel economy in it's class, by a fair margin! It does deliver on it's claim: I get 30-33 on the highway, depending on average speed, even in the up and down terrain of Seattle highways, and average 20-23 in strictly city driving. Again, we have a lot of hills in Seattle, which have a big affect on fuel economy. The modest sized engine does work and rev a bit more than some of the others I drove, but it does just fine overall. IF you want a very fast 0-60 time get a BMW or Porsche SUV, but be prepared to pay the price at the pump!!
I wanted a great looking car that didn't look like everything else on the road exactly, so the styling from all angles of the CX5 was somewhat different and sexy, at least to my eye. It looks like a serious automobile and is. The lines on it are terrific and it looks good from just about any angle. Thanks to Mazda for getting rid of the "smiley face" grillwork finally and the exaggerated arched front fenders in it's recent past models. The new styling is MUCH improved! Yet, it doesn't sacrifice practicality. It's easy to get in and out of , and loading or unloading groceries or cargo is a snap!
This last category was hard to choose because there are so many things this Mazda does well, but the brand does have a very good reputation for being built well and being reliable and I did have an older '89 626 that was very reliable and lasted until the trannie gave out at 165K miles. I'm sure it could've gone on for many more miles past that, but it didn't make sense to pay $3000+ to fix the transmission on a car that was only worth a little more than half that at the time. If this new car is as good as that one, I'll be a happy camper!