As far as distracting a driver, same could be said for the installation of stereos. Get rid of them. Too many people scanning for a song instead of driving. Or just assume that some will be responsible and some won’t. Whether the touch screen is in their hand or on the dash is irrelevant.
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I hear you on the controls, but I consider it to be a very, very minor thing.I bought a new CX-5 in 2016 and have had zero problems. Mine is the fully loaded Grand Touring model and is nicely equipped and featured. The only negative I have is that the audio/navigation/display controls are not intuitive and the round toggle knob on the console is a pain. Once you learn it, not much of a problem but they could have stuck with a more traditional set of controls.
I had a Hyundai Tucson before this and the Mazda is a much better value. At the $30K price point, it’s hard to beat
The 2019 (and I assume later models) has Apple Car Play. So you can navigate w/ voice commands. No need to fool around with control/phone except for the big ass knob in the console area which is easy to find with your eyes on the road.