Peel back the sheet metal on the 2017 Mazda CX-5 and there isn’t a whole lot that stands out compared to the outgoing version.
But it’s what you can’t see that matters in Mazda’s compact crossover, with plenty of work being done to improve the little things, including overall cabin quietness. And quiet it is, with barely a whisper from the road making it inside.
It’s not as if engineers simply added some extra sound deadening and called it a day, though; that would’ve been way too easy. Instead, materials were meticulously measured and, if necessary, moved or replaced in the name of noise reduction.
Some changes are small ones — windshield wipers that have been lowered below the hoodline, for example — while others are much more drastic. Parts like the plastic panels in the rear cargo area in the first-gen CX-5 were reflective; rather than deaden sound on impact they forced them right back into the rest of the cabin. To rectify the issue on the new CX-5, the cargo area is now fitted with fabric throughout that absorbs sound to make for a more peaceful interior experience. As an added bonus, that fabric does better to stand up to everyday wear and tear than the plastic it replaces, which was prone to scraping and scratching.
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Of course, the CX-5 employs more traditional means of muting the cabin, including thicker glass, additional insulation in the doors and pillars, new door jamb seals, and a felt-lined plastic panel beneath the vehicle to block road noise at the source. It all adds up to a cabin that’s substantially quieter than before. According to Mazda, the 2017 CX-5 ranks near the BMW X3 in both its articulation index and sound pressure scores, two widely used metrics in the auto industry to measure cabin noise levels.
There’s also plenty of what Mazda’s calling “visual noise improvements” both inside and out of the new CX-5. That means improved fit and finish in panels gaps, and improved aesthetics to avoid lines that intersect each other awkwardly.
Individually, these changes may seem insignificant, but put them all together and it makes for an impressively detail-oriented package that helps set the new CX-5 apart from not only its predecessor but the rest of the compact crossover pack.