LOS ANGELES – Mazda’s new CX-5 cross/utility vehicle ushers in a new interior scheme for the Japanese auto maker that prioritizes more luxurious materials and greater attention to detail.

The CX-5, on sale in 2012, uses Mazda’s new standard of soft-touch material with a cushioned skin on the upper door trim and upper instrument panel.

“It’s the most-expensive material,” Masashi Nakayama, CX-5 chief designer, tells WardsAuto during an interview here, while declining to say how the auto maker is able to afford the pricey trim. “Top secret,” he says when asked if costs are being saved in less-visible areas of the CUV.

The CX-5 uses a silver chrome finish that Mazda claims is an industry-first. The trim is used liberally, including on the door handles, steering wheel, shifter and lower center-stack. It also rings the gauges behind the steering wheel and the surrounds on the optional touch screen.

“It’s more expensive than paint, more expensive than chrome,” Nakayama says.

Developed in cooperation with an unnamed supplier, the silver chrome finish, which has a mild reflective aspect, is achieved using a chroming process and is not painted on, he says. “The process is (chroming), but this is a higher-cost version of (traditional) chrome.”

Also of note is the double stitching on leather seats; chunky dials to control heating, ventilation and air-conditioning functions; and perforation in the seat leather, which is meant to absorb cabin sound, Nakayama says. “If you go to a music room, there’s a lot of perforation and holes. This was observed to make the room quieter.”

Nakayama, who helmed both interior and exterior design for the CX-5, points out the extra-long doors that cover the sill, to keep passengers’ pant legs from getting dirty when entering or exiting the vehicle.

Mazda also dialed back the use of its signature piano-black plastic trim. The dust-catching shiny trim is found only in bits on the upper-grade CX-5s here, including around center-stack vents and the temperature/airflow display.

Interior comfort is high in the CX-5. Seats are firm and supportive, but not too hard for longer drives. Similar to the new Honda CR-V, the second-row seats separate to get to a flat load floor.

But where the CR-V’s bottom cushions flip up vertically against front seatbacks before the back cushion falls forward, the CX-5’s bottom cushions sink horizontally and the second-row seatback then collapses.

It’s an ingenious system that allows added cargo space to a small CUV.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com