Mazda is one of those vehicle brands that just has something special. They’re famous but modest in size, make cutting edge products, both aesthetically and functionally, yet maintain that legendary Japanese reliability, and provide a cohesive lineup that all share the same family DNA. In today’s article, we examine four 2017 model year examples across the Japanese manufacturer’s portfolio ranging from the well-rounded CX-5 SUV to the impossibly fun MX-5 roadster, and break down why each one is just so darned good.
This bread and butter compact was one of the first Mazdas to embrace the current crop of curvy KODO—Soul of Motion designed vehicles, embodying the signature five-point grille and slim headlamps. Originally released in 2013, updates were released last year including LED lighting, a new spoiler, and three fresh colors, such as Machine Grey Metallic, which uses a special TAKUMINURI application technique resembling a hand-painted finish.
Powering the Mazda3 is an efficient SKYACTIV 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which for 2017 gains G-Vectoring Control. GVC monitors steering wheel inputs and automatically adjusts torque output to the front wheels individually, minimizing discomfort felt by passengers during cornering maneuvers.
Bigger brother to the 3, the Mazda6 is the perfect do-it-all family sedan. Its sleek body has garnered numerous accolades, and under the hood is a capable 2.5-liter motor pushing 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Unusual for this segment, a fun and slick six-speed manual gearbox is available for drivers who enjoy a little bit more control.
In addition to the recent addition of the aforementioned G-Vectoring Control, more safety features are bundled into the already generous i-ACTIVSENSE suite of technologies such as pedestrian detection, part of the Advanced Smart City Brake Support system.
Although it may not be immediately evident, the 2017 CX-5 is built on an all-new platform. The crossover retains similar proportions as before, and among numerous changes, now boasts sharper exterior looks, a reclining rear set, and an electric-assisted tailgate. Special attention has been paid to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness — for instance, engineers relocated the speakers to minimize door panel rattle. On the topic of speakers, the optional Bose premium stereo has a total of 10 of them, tuned to emulate a live performance.
The base GX utilizes the same 2.0-liter mill found in the Mazda3, while the GS and GT borrow the one from the Mazda6. The latter may also have all-wheel drive equipped.
The legendary MX-5 needs little introduction. Affectionately known as the Miata to enthusiasts, the diminutive roadster marked a return to the model’s roots in the form of a lightweight chassis, compact form factor, and rev-happy motor. Sold in three grades, all receive modern accouterments ranging from push-button start to self-leveling LED headlights. The mid-level GS is the sweet spot coming with Bilstein shock suspension, a limited slip differential, and rain sensing wipers.
Propulsion comes by way of the familiar 155 horsepower 2.0-liter SKYACTIV engine mated to a standard crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission, although a six-speed automatic transmission is offered at no extra cost.