Over the course of a year, there has been no other vehicle parked in our garage that I've complimented as much as my CX-5, nicknamed Blue. The variety of positive remarks was never extraordinary, but the number of times I repeated them was. Every time someone asked, "So, how do you like the CX-5?" I replied, "I like it a lot," and began listing its many attributes.

I'd begin with design. The CX-5 with its Kodo style looks fresh and original. Compared to the busy mixes of lines and shapes on the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4, the CX-5 is astutely simple, athletic, and attractive. For more flair, I added Mazda's optional roof rails ($250), crossbars ($125), Yakima snowboard carriers ($137), trailer hitch ($318) and wiring harness ($11), Yakima bike carrier ($205), all-weather mats ($95), and cargo cover ($200). The racks gave the CX-5 a rugged look, though they did boost wind noise inside.

I'd then describe how the compact physique belied a roomy cabin steeped in simplicity and capacious enough to shuttle five passengers comfortably. Sub-6-foot-5 back-seat riders enjoyed generous elbow- and kneeroom, a contrast to what my previous 2011 Nissan Juke SL long-termer offered. The dash layout, climate control switchgear, and TomTom navigation/multimedia screen required no drastic learning curve and looked great.

Blue covered all the right bases. And for that, it'll be a top CUV recommendation of mine for years to come. Mazda: Bring on the ...

As a Grand Touring model, Blue came packed with amenities. It had automatic door locks, leather, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, tilt/telescoping wheel, HD radio, heated front seats, 5.8-inch display with rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, moonroof, blind-spot monitoring system. Making Blue all the sweeter was its Grand Touring Tech Package ($1325) with bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, navigation, and security

Our Car
Service Life 14 mo/28,831 mi
Base Price $27,840
Price as Tested $29,265
Options Grand Touring Tech Package ($1325: navigation, HID headlights, keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror); rear bumper guard ($100)
Average fuel economy 26.4 mpg
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 26/32/22 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.73 lb/mi
Problem Areas None
Maintenance Cost $456.21 (4-oil change, inspections; 3-tire rotations; 1-cabin-air filter)
Normal-Wear Cost $861 (tires)
3-Year Residual Value* $14,187
Recalls None
* Automotive Lease Guide