The rear exterior of a red Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 review (2017-2023)

The Mazda CX-5 is a comfortable family SUV with room for five adults and a big boot. It's also well-equipped with a plush interior, and is impressively fun to drive.

Pros

  • Spacious and well built interior
  • Cost-effective to buy and run
  • Fun to drive

Cons

  • Limited choice of engines
  • Petrol engine is less economical
  • Small choice of trims

Summary

“All CX-5s offer lively performance and stacks of standard equipment.”

The high point of the Mazda CX-5 is its smartly designed interior. Not only is it packed with premium materials and plenty of kit, it’s also roomy and features a big boot. There’s lots of handy storage, which is perfect if you’re driving the family and all their belongings around.

There’s a limited engine line-up and trim choice, but all CX-5s offer lively performance and stacks of standard equipment. They also drive with more precision and agility than most of their SUV rivals.

What's the interior like?

“The high-set driving position is comfortable and offers a commanding view of the road.”

The Mazda CX-5's interior features plenty of high-grade materials, including soft touch plastics and a satin metal-finished gearstick. It's not quite as plush as a genuine premium car of this type, such as the BMW X3 or Audi Q5, but it's not far off, and it's much nicer than something like the Ford Kuga.

The dashboard is well laid out and features a clear and easy-to-use infotainment screen that sits on top of the dash. Featuring both a touchscreen and traditional rotary controller, it’s simple to use on the move, plus it’s packed with features, including Bluetooth and a wide variety of apps. Not all models include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but these features can be added by a Mazda dealer.

The Mazda CX-5 has enough space for growing families. Up front, the high-set driving position is comfortable and offers a commanding view of the road, while in the rear there’s lots of head and legroom. The boot is large at 503 litres, rising to 1,620 litres with the rear seats flat which is bigger than most rivals. It’ll easily fit two large suitcases and a baby buggy.

What's it like to drive?

“Combining comfort and agility, the Mazda CX-5 is one of the best driving SUVs.”

With its precise steering, slick six-speed manual gearbox and strong grip, the CX-5 is surprisingly enjoyable on twisting roads and is comparable in its agility to the Seat Ateca. An automatic is available too, if you'd rather not shift yourself. Generally, there’s little difference in feel between the front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions, although it’s the four-wheel drive that shines during wintry or off-road conditions.

The CX-5 handles bumps well and remains quiet when cruising, even if there’s a little more wind or tyre noise than some rivals.

The 2.2-litre diesels are the pick of the bunch. Available with either 148bhp or 181bhp, these smooth and refined cars offer plenty of power. The 2.0-litre petrol delivers 163bhp, but it can feel a little lethargic. A more powerful 2.5-litre petrol, with 194bhp, was available from 2021.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“It’s not as expensive to buy as its rivals but it’s better equipped.”

The CX-5 is a great value choice for used buyers. Early cars came woth a choice of SE-L Nav and Sport Nav trims, replaced in 2019 by SE-Nav+, Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+. In 2020 the range was refined to SE-L, Sport, GT Sport and a new top-of-the-range Kuro Edition, while a facelift in 2022 added a new Takumi edition and the rugged Newground. The range may well have been overhauled again by the time you read this. But regardless, all the trims are very well equipped.

The 148bhp front-wheel drive 2.2-litre diesel is by far the most cost-effective choice, with fuel economy of up to 56.5 mpg according to official figures. It's a shame there's no hybrid or electric version, which some rivals can offer.

Servicing costs are reasonable on the CX-5, but the relatively short 12 months and 12,500 miles maintenance intervals, mean it requires more frequent trips to the dealer workshop.

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Which one is best for you?

The 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel is our particular recommended as long as you don’t need four-wheel drive. In day-to-day use it feels as quick and refined as the more powerful diesel, yet it’s more efficient and more affordable. If you're set against diesel, the 2.0-litre petrol engine isn't bad, although it lacks a bit of grunt. The more powerful 2.5-litre petrol engine is very thirsty for fuel.

For most people, the SE-L Nav specification (or the age-dependent equivalent) has all the kit you’ll need. Sat nav and cruise control are just a couple of the standard items. The GT Sport Nav and Sport Nav models add more equipment, such as leather seat trim, but don’t necessarily justify their higher price in the used market.

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