Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

subaru,crosstrek,mpg, awd

Subaru’s latest AWD model ups its MPG

The Wheels You Need with the Fuel Economy You Crave

So the scientists announced this last week (ed note: we originally wrote this three years ago–and updated it since–but the climate change news has not gotten any brighter in the intervening years) that the world has hit another milestone. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has hit a concentration not seen for millions of years. While many in the environmental community might see this as the point at which personal transportation should be curtailed–starting with SUVs or Crossovers–it is clear the automotive market is not going to make such a quick shift.

Sport utility vehicles and crossovers (crossovers being sport utility vehicles based on a car rather than truck chassis) are more popular than ever in 2017, even as the general trend toward higher MPG vehicles moves forward.  The reason is simple: they are functional. One trip to Costco is enough to convince many families that a Prius won’t cut it. Regular trips up to the mountains in the winter to ski could similarly motivate a car buyer to look for an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle rather than the front-wheel drive found on most high-mileage hybrids. Cars don’t always cut it.

Tesla,Model X,falcon doors,mpg,electic car

Winging it…on electricity

All of which leaves the environmentally conscious consumer with some tough choices. If your lifestyle points you toward an SUV or crossover, you still want to do what you can to minimize your contribution to further CO2 in the atmosphere.  The first electric SUV has appeared (after one short-lived version, the RAV4 EV was on the market for a brief time), but the Tesla Model X is out of most buyers’ price range. Plug-in hybrids are just hitting the market this year and more are promised, but again most are luxury first and SUV second. A few hybrid and clean diesel models are out there, so the key is to check out the most fuel efficient models that fit your needs.  Since one of those needs with this class of vehicles usually entails a good amount of distance travel, we’re use the highway fuel economy as the benchmark for our Top 10 list.

While cars, especially smaller ones, appear to be able to top the 40 mpg mark without much difficulty and are pushing even higher with plug-in models, AWD and 4WD models, with extra hardware and usually a larger size, have historically found 30 mpg on the highway a tough mark. No more. We’ve got an EV and several plug-ins that boast sophisticated technology that offers welcome progress on the MPG front. The downside is all this new hardware comes at a serious premium. But not far down the list are gasoline-powered models delivering mid-30s fuel economy.

The numbers are based on the federal fuel economy tests, so of course your mileage will vary. We’ve updated this list and pruned out some of the two-wheel-drive interlopers. We expect this list to keep growing, offering mpg-conscious car buyers even more options.

The Top 10 SUVs/Crossovers

1. 95 MPGe – Tesla Model X EV – So how does almost 100 mpg sound for an SUV? Is that worth $70 or $80,000? Tesla’s foray into the SUV space is an all-wheel-drive, all-electric crossover with seating for seven adults and their luggage. It is based off of Tesla’s Model S sedan (which it now outsells) and features two electric motors (of varying sizes depending on the model) and a variety battery pack sizes and performance levels. Oh, and it also has gull-wing (falcon in Tesla parlance) doors. And loads of tech features, including fairly sophisticated self-driving capability. The car will deliver about 250 miles of range in the high-end model; 220 in the “entry-level” model. When we did a brief test drive, we were impressed. The Toyota RAV4 EV was the first SUV with a plug, but in two iterations it only had a brief run and totaled about 3,000 vehicles. Tesla passed that mark in its first year on the market and continues crank them out of its Fremont plant.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

2. 56 MPGe BMW X5 xDrive40e PHEV – BMW took its most popular SUV and added a plug. It seems simple, but the process entailed added technology. Thankfully, BMW has not subtracted any of the positive attributes of its all-wheel-drive SUV. Forget to plug in and you’re back to mid-20s fuel economy. It has 14 miles of all-electric range augmented by more than 300 horsepower of gasoline-fueled power, which is helpful if you’ve carrying a full three rows of passengers. We have a review of this model.

3. 53 MPGe – Volvo XC90 AWD PHEV – The first plug-in Volvo has arrived. We saw it some time ago and are pleased that it has been delivered intact with great fuel economy along with all of the usual Volvo safety equipment and great wagon space. Without plugging in the fuel economy drops to the mid-20s. It’s all-electric range is about 14 miles. A week in the wagon reinforced out initial impression.

4. 50 MPGe – Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e – The latest addition to the plug-in SUV crowd comes from Mercedes-Benz. This five-passenger SUV can shut down its 400+ horsepower V-6 biturbo engine and move on electric power to maximize fuel economy. Its default mode is a hybrid drive that will shift from gas to electric power.

5. 47 MPGe – Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid PHEV – To offset some performance models with less-than-stellar fuel economy, Porsche is leading the way by offering plug-in versions that promise enhanced MPG. The company’s SUV adds an electric motor than can give 16 miles of EV range. On gas alone the car is in the low 20s MPG. 

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

6. Tie 34 MPG – Nissan Rogue Hybrid/Toyota RAV4 Hybrid In case there was any question about the competitive nature of the automotive market, these two models should settle the debate. Locked into a battle for the hearts, minds and wallets of the hot compact class of crossover, both companies have added hybrid systems to their hot-selling small SUVs. Its working as both effortlessly deliver stellar fuel economy a the no-fuss hybrid system that makes most of the decisions for the driver. The market loves them, too, (in hybrid and non-hybrid mode) as in early 2017 both models are among the top-selling models in the U.S. We tested both here, here and here.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Lexus NX 300h – A new entry takes a top spot as Toyota fields a hybrid version of the RAV4 with a Lexus badge. The fuel economy numbers are for city driving. As is typical of hybrids, it gives you more MPG around town than out on the highway (31 highway and 33 combined). These numbers are for the two-wheel-drive version; moving all four wheels knocks off one or two MPG. We tested it when it first came out and found it a competent machine.

2105 Lexus,NX 300h,fuel economy,mpg

Lexus NX 300h

8. Tie 33 MPG – Honda CR-V Honda’s best-selling crossover tops 30 MPG with all-wheel-drive on board. We’ve driven this compact utility several times and find it a real winner in its class, coming in only a shade below hybridized versions of its competition. Since it isn’t a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, it also has an edge in affortability.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Jaguar F-Pace – It’s highly unusual for a Jaguar to show up on the best-MPG list, but the F-Pace is something a little different. Jaguar added an efficient clean diesel engine to bump its fuel economy into the range of usually more efficient but smaller crossovers. We’ve experienced the engine in a sedan and believe it should deliver some solid performance for this new entry.

8. Tie 33 MPG – Subaru XV CrosstrekSubaru continues to test the market with vehicles that depart from its typical cars. The Crosstrek has a 2-liter version of the traditional (for Subaru) horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine producing 148 horsepower when paired with the CVT automatic. It bumps up the MPG of the popular Crosstrek.

Just missing the Top 10 mpg mark are a half-dozen models

Not that long ago 30 mpg for an all-wheel-drive vehicles was unheard of. As you can see above, it is quickly becoming the ticket of entry in this class of vehicles. The variety of models is astounding and the range of features runs the gamut from affordable small crossovers to SUVs capable of carrying more than a family of four and taking the group well off the highway.

We used the federal fuel economy numbers from the EPA at  to rank these models. Lurking just below the Top 10 (which of course is actually 11  models) are a variety of vary capable cars, all of which come in 4WD with a variety of engine options. Ones to check out are the Mazda CX-3, Lexus RX 450h Hybrid, Honda HR-V, Nissan Murano Hybrid, Buick Encore, Subaru Forester, Mercedes-Benz GLA250, Infiniti QX30, Subaru Outback, Audi Q5 Hybrid, Chevrolet Trax, BMW X1 xDrive, Jeep Renegade and Toyota Highlander Hybrid for some other 30+ MPG cars. The variety has never been greater.

And coming soon:

The onslaught of new models focused on fuel efficiency will continue as automakers strive to reach fuel economy and greenhouse gas targets set by governments around the world. Models announced, but not yet introduced include plug-in versions of several more BMW and Mercedes SUVs. We’ve also been waiting for the U.S. introduction of the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid, which is already on the market in Japan and Europe. It’s expected to have 20-25 miles of all-electric range and could turn in mpge (mileage factoring in the electric range) well above 50.

Other similar stories you might enjoy:

First Drive: 2017 Tesla Model X

Road Test: 2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

Road Test: 2016 Volvo XC90 PHEV

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2015 Lexus NX 300h

Road Test: 2016 Honda CR-V

Road Test: 2013 Subaru Crosstrek

 

 

News: WAJ Media Day Offers Preview of Upcoming Test Drives

News: WAJ Media Day Offers Preview of Upcoming Test Drives

Western Automotive Journalists’ Media Day Review

Ford F-250 Super Duty

Unexpected luxury in a work truck (Ford F-250)

Once a year a group of automotive journalists including Clean Fleet Report gathers on the Monterey Peninsula to drive a selection of the latest models available. This year we had the opportunity to sample a variety of vehicles, with First Drive stories scheduled to appear in the near future.

Here’s a preview of what we drove over two days and a headline of what we thought (in alphabetical order):

  • Acura MDX Sport Hybrid – This is a big SUV that is now pushing close to 30 mpg with some careful driving. It’s got some odd gearwork inside, but comes loaded with luxury items.
    Acura MDX Hybrid

    A big SUV with big MPG

    Chrysler Pacifica Plugin Hybrid – Chrysler’s rep told us the plug-in nature of this model may not be highlighted and we found out why. The added fuel economy (84 MPGe with a 32 mpg in gas-only mode) is nice, but the overall car is the best minivan I’ve ever driven.

  • Ford F250 Super Duty – Diesel is definitely not dead in this class of big truck. The power and added fuel economy are expected, but the luxury in this serious work truck is a real plus.
  • Honda Clarity – The third entry in the fuel cell car sweepstakes is a stunner. It looks great and travels as smooth as we’ve come to expect from most electric cars. It’s good competition for the Toyota Mirai.
  • Jaguar XE 2.0d – A sure-footed AWD sedan that feels a bit like a throwback—specifically the first generation BMW 3-Series—and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Kia Niro Hybrid My colleagues have already praised this model highly so my expectations were high, but like several other Kia models—it delivers.
  • Land Rover Discovery Td6 – Another big, high-riding SUV, this one with diesel power giving it mid-20s mpg. The torque from the diesel reinforces a feeling of invincibility.
  • Land Rover Discovery Td6

    Big, powerful and ready to go anywhere

    Mazda CX5 – Mazda seems to keep pumping up this model, which is the heart of its SUV lineup. It’s understated, but a real pleasure to drive while tagging on fuel economy up to almost 30 mpg on the highway.

  • MercedesBenz GLA 250 – I wasn’t sure what to expect from this little red number. It looked sporty, but offered a hint of SUV utility. It turned out to suffer from this kind of schizophrenia, which muddled its image.
  • Toyota CHR – Toyota finally jumps into the hot subcompact SUV segment with this wild-looking model. It’s fun, but quirky in more than just its looks.
  • Toyota Prius Prime – This round the plug-in Prius gets a redo to distinguish it from the non-plug-in Prius and also adds some new gadgets. It’s definitely a step up, but the competition hasn’t been standing still so it is going to continue struggle with all but Toyota loyalists. Some of my colleagues have been impressed with their time in this car.
  • Zero Motorcycles – Zero brought out its full line of electric bikes and got a lot of attention for the bikes quiet performance. It turns out police all over the country love that combination (quiet+performance).

In addition to all of the fun hardware (and trust me, I didn’t have a chance to try everything I wanted to), WAJ Media Day also gave me a chance to learn more about Navdy’s head-up display and get updated on why high-strength steel is still used so extensively in the auto industry.

Stay tuned!

Top 10 Stories of 2014

Top 10 Stories of 2014

Electric Cars, Fuel Cells; Diverse Paths to Fuel Efficiency Highlighted

Here at Clean Fleet Report we had a great year, seeing and reporting to you on a record number of cars, trucks, SUVs and even some two-wheel fuel-efficient vehicles. We had plenty of stories on electric cars, plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids, clean diesels and very efficient gas-powered vehicles. Beyond that, we reported on significant news and trends you need to know about to plan your next car purchase—or just keep up on the conversation about what’s happening on the leading edge of the automotive world.

So, here, in reverse order, are our Top 10 stories for the year from among the record 69 we published in 2014.

10. Two Wheels Go Electric. We had a sneak peak at the Tesla of electric motorcycles, the aptly named Energica Ego. It has a price up in the “if you have to ask” territory, reflecting its Formula

Carrying on a family tradition

Two wheels go electric, too!

1 engineering roots and extensive use of carbon fiber and top-brand components. We also noted that Harley-Davidson showed off an electric Harley concept that could indicate they’re looking at the same territory. 

9. Ford’s Aluminum Pickup. Ford spent a good portion of the year talking about one of the most revolutionary moves in the truck sector—a weight reduction campaign for its best-selling F-150 pickup that involved a move to an aluminum body and the use of lighter weight high-strength steel. With a lighter pickup, Ford was able to drop in a smaller EcoBoost engine and still maintain expected towing and hauling capacities. The truck has just gone on sale at the end of 2014, but the move boosted fuel economy by almost 30 percent, a move needed to counteract competitors like the Ram, which took the diesel route to the top fuel economy in the sector. Not to be left out, GM introduced a pair of new midsize pickups that also will be adding diesel power in 2015.

8. Compact SUVs Crack the 30 MPG Mark. It was hard to pick just one of new breed of compact SUVs/crossovers. We may need to up the ante for the 30 MPG Club because these guys are making it look easy. This year’s batch was led by the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, but you could throw in a Subaru or two and not be disappointed. The combination of fuel economy, interior utility, high-tech features and all-wheel-drive capability should help this class to continue to be popular in 2015.

7. Tesla on the Battlefield. We didn’t dive too deeply into the almost daily drama emanating from Palo Alto (just up the road from our headquarters) because we like to focus on the hardware2013-Tesla-Model-S[1] and the significant news that affects that hardware. But we couldn’t avoid a couple articles on Elon Musk’s battle to establish a different sales model of direct sales. He had some success, some losses (sort of like the company’s balance sheet). We’ll continue to follow the company’s progress on this front and any developments on product, which will likely be led by the introduction of the Model X late in 2015.

6. Clean Diesel’s Leader—VW Jetta. Let’s be honest, we love great fuel economy, but really don’t want to give up the fun of driving. Diesel engines are one of the best methods of having the best of both worlds. Hundreds of miles of driving on a tank and the power to effortlessly take on anything the road has to offer. We sampled several diesels this year, but have settled on the Volkswagen Jetta as the standard-bearer of this segment. We like the compact size, the power, the upscale appointments and most of all, an easy 40+ mpg out on the road.

5. The Prius Quartet. You can’t know the Prius. It has led the way for a decade and a half and blazed fuel-economy trails that most other cars have not been able to match. So Toyota decided to make it a family and there are now four variants, all four of which Clean Fleet Report road-tested this year. It’s a challenge figured out which might work the best, but ranging from the diminutive c to the wagon-like V with the traditional Liftback and Plug-In sandwiched in-between, Toyota figures to have the market well-covered.

4. Fuel Cell Electric Cars Arrive! Of course we’ve heard this one before. But this time they mean it! Consider this the second coming of the fuel cell car. We’ve had prototypes running around

toyota,fuelcell,future,FCHV

An aggressive year for fuel cells

for a decade or more, but now you can buy an FCEV. That is, if you live near the just-beginning refueling infrastructure. Hyundai hit the market first, but Toyota is close behind and Honda not long after them. Mercedes already has dozens on the road and VW and Audi showcased potential challengers. We’ll be keeping an eye of these cars, but from what we’ve driven so far, there is no question about the seriousness of the automakers in bringing FCEVs to market. Hyundai’s fuel cell “engine” was even named by WardsAuto as one of the 10 Best of the year.

3. Kia Soul EV. Cue the hamsters! Electric cars are now cool. The Korean automaker is dipping its toes in the all-electric market (they’ve got a hybrid on the market and a plug-in hybrid coming) with its popular little mini-wagon. We had a fun first drive with the Soul EV and expect to spend some more time in it in 2015.

2. BMW i3. We should have seen this one coming as the Bavarian merchants of speed first dropped a cobbled Mini-E on us, followed up by a pedestrian-

2015, Kia, Soul EV,electric car

Here come the hamsters!

looking but competent performer in the Active-E. Finally, the real deal arrives and it is every bit the BMW we would expect. Except maybe in its looks, which are more squat than BMW’s SUVs.

When it comes to performance and technology, the i3 is ground-breaking and delivers the driving experience you would expect from a BMW, but without the gasoline (unless you get the REX version that carries a small engine and extends the range 50 miles).

1. Top 10 Electric Cars. This is the big story. We have to choose to pick the Top 10 electric cars available today. It’s still a mix of pure electrics and plug-in hybrids, but the list is growing quickly and the variety of vehicles is looking better than ever. Everything from two-seat mini-sedans to six-figure luxury sports cars are now crowding this list, which we keep updated on a regular basis. The progress being made by automakers is encouraging and the response of the public has been likewise. It’s getting easier to find an electric car that works for your lifestyle and pocketbook. The new players like the VW e-Golf, Kia Soul EV and BMW i3 are making a statement that this is a segment destined to hold a growing portion of the market. Clean Fleet Report will continue to be there in 2015 to make sure you have all the latest news on this group and all of the others out there.

Happy New Year!

Here on links to our Top 10 Stories of 2014

  1. Top 10 Electric Cars.
  2. BMW i3.
  3. Kia Soul EV.
  4. Fuel Cells Cars Arrive!
  5. The Prius Quartet: The c and V; Liftback and Plug-In.
  6. Clean Diesel’s Standard-Bearer—the VW Jetta (2014/2015).
  7. Tesla’s Battles at the Dealershiptwo engagements.
  8. Compact SUVs Crack the 30 MPG Barrier: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5.
  9. Ford’s Aluminum Pickup. Pickups Pick Up MPG. First Drive: Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon.
  10. Two Wheels Go Electric.
Road Test: 2015 Mazda CX-5

Road Test: 2015 Mazda CX-5

Fuel economy and Zoom-Zoom

How can a small-size car company meet federal fuel economy standards for the next decade if it lacks the resources to develop fuel-efficient hybrids, like larger automakers? If you’re Mazda, you tackle the issue with a holistic approach and

2015 Mazda,CX-5,SUV,mpg,fuel economy,skyactiv

A strong compact SUV contender

innovative engineering that benefits not only fuel economy, but performance, handling and safety as well.

The result? It’s what the little Zoom-Zoom carmaker calls “Skyactiv Technology,” a suite of technological packages in synch with each other that collectively earned the 2015 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover sport utility inclusion in our All-Wheel Drive 30 MPG Club. And not just for the base 2.0-liter four cylinder engine, but also for the larger 2.5-liter four.

Equipped with the smaller 2.0-liter engine, the EPA estimated fuel economy is 31-mpg highway/25 city and 28 combined. There is little fuel economy penalty when choosing the 2.5 as the numbers only drop to 30-mpg highway/24 city and 26 combined.

Three all-wheel drive models are offered: Sport, which starts at $24,395 plus $850 destination charges; Touring priced starting at $26,215; and Grand Touring with a sticker price of $29,220.

Skyactiv Technology

Insightful, creative engineering is the core of Skyactiv and the CX-5 was the first Mazda vehicle to feature all of the combined technologies when introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model. At the heart is the Skyactiv-G Engine, a lightweight, efficient four-cylinder that uses direct fuel injection, sequential intake valve timing and a high 13.0:1 compression ratio. These, along with other innovations, achieve excellent power performance while delivering exceptional fuel economy and running on 87-octane fuel.

2015,Mazda CX-5,Skyactiv-G,mpg, fuel economy

The little bigger engine that good

The 2.0-liter produces 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. The larger 2.5-liter engine pushes the output to 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 pounds-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm.

Connected to the engine is the Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. Lightweight in design, the engineering goal was the best attributes of all automatic transmission types — conventional automatic, continuously variable and dual clutch. Mission accomplished, using a small torque converter that delivers smooth starts and shifts attributed to torque transfer efficiency.

Lightweighting, the use of weight-saving materials to improve fuel economy, plays a major role in Mazda’s program. Skyactiv-body and Skyactiv-chassis are terms used to describe the huge reduction of weight through extensive use of high-tensile strength steel. These construction components provide a rigid body and stiffer chassis to optimize steering and handling control. Plus, it helps protect occupants during an unexpected impact.

Whew! That’s a lot to digest, and I only highlighted the details. It does, however, give some insight why the CX-5 feels so darn good to drive.

Zoom-Zoom Road Test

When introduced, the CX-5’s sole engine was the 2.0-liter four. While it was adequate and smooth running, the performance is best described as a single Zoom.

Mazda added the 2.5-liter last year, giving it the credentials to rightfully claim Zoom-Zoom in its advertising. Our Grand Touring all-wheel drive test vehicle approached life with zest not found in other small crossovers, with the exception of the Ford Escape with the 240 horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder.

The engine is quiet and you can feel some muscle when accelerating from a stop or punching the pedal when merging or passing. Power is demonstrated in a refined, enthusiastic way rather than a brute force manner. There’s plenty of energy from the mid to the upper ranges of the power band. Launch to 60 mph is a tick under eight seconds, admirable for a vehicle that weighs in at 3,532 pounds.

The six-speed automatic proved to be a smooth partner to the 2.5-liter four. Shifts — up or down — were as smooth and quick as any automatic-equipped small crossover I’ve driven.

2015 Mazda,CX-5 SUV,skyactiv,performance,mpg

Skyactiv comes alive on the road

What made me appreciate the engine and transmission’s performance was the sweet handling, thanks to the Skyactiv’s attention to chassis details.  The suspension is divided between MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the back. The latter has been mounted higher than usual to improve damper efficiency.

Our 2015 Mazda CX-5 was composed under hard acceleration and deceleration, stayed flat as it danced through tight, fast corners and kept its poise right up to the limits of tire adhesion. Although the suspension is skewed toward athletic achievement, the little SUV still dispensed a comfortable, well-behaved ride whether it was on the Interstate or city streets.

As is becoming the norm in this class and others, the steering rack is an electrically assisted system that has a feel close to the Miata roadster. It is communicative, quick and precise at higher speeds, yet light when parking.

The only demerit I gave the CX-5 was a sensitive, slightly grabby brake pedal. I did become used to it, and, sensitive or not, during an urgently needed panic stop, the brakes came through as required.

“Soul of Motion” Design

In addition to Skyactiv, the CX-5 was the first Mazda to introduce its new Kodo, or “Soul of Motion” design direction, which introduced a wide mouth grille. The black, shield-shaped grille and angular wraparound headlights give the front a distinctive and classy look.

In profile, the shape has a swept-back SUV look, with the raked front A-pillar matching the fastback design of the rear C-pillar.  In back the style is simple but tasteful, featuring high-mounted taillights that wrap around to sides and a small rear window. Hinting at the CX-5’s performance bent is a pair of chrome exhaust tips.

Mazda carried the smart exterior over to the interior, where I found everything solidly built and smartly designed, if slightly lacking in visual sparkle. Materials and assembly quality are equal to the best-in-class, and there is an abundance of

2015, Mazda CX-5,interior

Pleasing, if unremarkable surfaces great you

soft touch surfaces in the right places.

The prevailing sight from the driver’s seat, save a clear and sensibly laid-out instrument cluster, is a streamlined swathe of dashboard that tapers over a setback multimedia center, with touchscreen functions that operate intuitively. Below the screen, climate control switchgear turns with a gratifyingly solid soft click.

With a 106.3-inch wheelbase, the 2015 Mazda CX-5 has one of the roomiest cabins in the small crossover segment. Driver and front passenger have a generous 40.1-inch headroom and 41.0 inches of legroom. Six- or eight-way power-adjustable driver seats are offered on all but the Sport trim.

Comfort extends to rear seat passengers who have a plentiful 39.3-inches of legroom and 39.0-inches of headroom. Thoughtfully, second row occupants have plenty of foot space beneath the front seats.

2015 Mazda,CX-5,storage,SUV,mpg

A cavernous interior awaits

Touring and Grand Touring models come standard with 40/20/40-split rear seats. When folded flat, they extend the cargo space from 34.1 cubic feet to a cavernous 65.4 cubic feet.

A surprising standard feature on all 2015 Mazda CX-5 models is push button start. Also standard are the expected power accessories, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel with mounted audio and cruise control functions, air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible audio system, Bluetooth connectivity and ports for an auxiliary audio jack and USB.

Both Touring models add a rearview camera and a blind-spot monitoring system and the Grand Touring includes niceties like leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Our Grand Touring test driver added the optional Technology Package that includes the Smart City Brake Support system. At speeds up to 19 mph, if you’re coming up behind a slowed vehicle too quickly, the system sounds an alert and preps the brakes for a faster stop. React too slowly and it can automatically apply the brakes to prevent or reduce the severity of a frontal collision.

Is The 2015 Mazda CX-5 For You?

The compact crossover SUV segment is flowing over with some of the best-selling vehicles in the country, which starts with the Honda CR-V, the leader in the sales category. Then there’s the number two-selling Ford Escape. Others fighting for a piece of the market include Toyota’s RAV4, the Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

With the exception of the Escape, none of the above comes close to the CX-5’s fun-to-drive personality. The Ford has seductive European styling, but isn’t as roomy as the Mazda. Also, options can push its price close to $40,000.

As for the Honda, well, repeat CR-V owners are not likely to even consider another make. As for new-to-the-segment buyers, they will be tempted by its number-one sales ranking, as they should be.

Where the 2015 Mazda CX-5 stands out from the crowd is its combination of fuel economy, Zoom-Zoom driving behavior, and a competitive price with good value for the dollar spent. That makes it a relative bargain among the compact class.

Other related stories you might enjoy:

Road Test: 2015 Ford Escape

Road Test: 2014 Honda CR-V

Road Test: 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander