Mazda CX-5 review
The Mazda CX-5 is good to drive, while decent levels of comfort, space and tech help it challenge the leading mid-size SUV pack
The Mazda CX-5 is now better than ever after receiving a mid-life refresh in 2022, and the Japanese mid-size SUV will need every advantage if it’s to compete with the best in the tough mid-size SUV market. Thankfully, the car has retained (and improved on) its USP of being the SUV of choice for keen drivers. It handles better than ever, but most importantly its comfort and refinement are at another level when compared to the previous model.
Combined with a very punchy and efficient diesel engine or a responsive petrol unit, plus an upmarket interior and plenty of kit, it's easy to see why this is one of Mazda's best sellers. Granted, the slightly sharper design doesn't really move the game on, and some rivals still beat it for tech and practicality. But as an all-round family SUV that's both comfortable and agile, it's an excellent package.
About the Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 is a mid-size SUV that's ideal for drivers who are used to owning a car that's fun to drive, rather than just being practical everyday transport. It competes in an extremely competitive family SUV market place with its sharp handling being a key selling point, although there's much more to the CX-5 than that.
Car group tests
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Used car tests
As well as being a fun drive, the Mazda CX-5 offers good practicality and boot space, thanks to its larger than average dimensions. The engine range also offers good economy to go with responsive performance.
A glaring omission throughout the CX-5’s lifespan has been the lack of plug-in hybrid or even mild-hybrid technology, however this changed in 2023 when the 24V Mazda M Hybrid mild-hybrid system was added to the mid-size SUV, along with cylinder deactivation – the result of both updates is an average CO2 reduction of 9g/km for the petrol CX-5 range.
The engine range comprises of two petrol engines and a diesel unit. The lower-powered petrol engine is a 2.0 e-Skyactiv G unit making 163bhp, available with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The 191bhp 2.5-litre e-Skyactiv G petrol adds all-wheel drive and is offered exclusively with the auto transmission.
The 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D diesel in 148bhp form is no longer offered, while the 181bhp variant has the choice of front- or all-wheel drive and, again, either gearbox.
In 2023 Mazda simplified the trim structure for the CX-5, reducing it to Centre-Line, Newground, Exclusive-Line, Homura and then the range-topping Takumi. Prices for the Mazda CX-5 start from around £31,000, but while that's a little higher than some rivals, all CX-5 models are very well equipped. Sat-nav is standard across the range, as is privacy glass, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights, climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and front and rear parking sensors.
As we’ve mentioned, the CX-5 has a long list of excellent rivals. Pretty much every mainstream brand has a car in the compact SUV class, and models like the Peugeot 3008, Skoda Karoq and SEAT Ateca are all tough competitors. The CX-5’s dimensions and price tag mean it’s also up against the Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan X-Trail, although unlike these cars, the CX-5 isn't available with seven seats.
Elsewhere, the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Kuga both offer a stern challenge to the CX-5, then there are dependable choices such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, with extended warranty cover designed to give added confidence. The Citroen C5 Aircross and Vauxhall Grandland are also in the mix, but don't offer enough to trouble the class leaders. Many of these cars also come with the option of plug-in hybrid power, although diesel alternatives are limited these days.
Used and nearly new
The latest Mazda CX-5 is a family favourite and offers enough dynamic polish to keep the keener driver entertained. It isn't cheap, but with distinctive looks, great levels of kit and decent tech, it's become one of Mazda's best-selling cars in the UK. Customer responses from our Driver Power survey backs the sales figures up, with overall build quality and reliability highlighted as positive aspects of ownership,
Mazda CX-5 history
Mazda CX-5 Mk2: 2017-date
The CX-5 offers all the quality, practicality and kit you could want, so buying a used, or nearly new model could be the smart move. In fact, it does everything pretty well, although we'd avoid the 2.5-litre petrol model; it's expensive and lacks refinement. Safety has always been a strong point, with the CX-5 benefiting from lots of advanced tech and recognised with a top five-star Euro NCAP score. Read our full Mk2 Mazda CX-5 buyer’s guide here…
Mazda CX-5 Mk1: 2012-2017
If you're buying a used family SUV, then ultimately you'll want it to be reliable. Opting for an early Mk1 Mazda CX-5 should prove to be a good bet, as not only does it continue Mazda's reputation for producing dependable cars, but it's spacious, comfortable and offers excellent levels of standard equipment. Thrown in the fact that it's also fun to drive, for a big family SUV, and it's easy to see why the talented CX-5 has been such a sales success. Read our full Mk1 Mazda CX-5 buyer’s guide here…
For an alternative review of the Mazda CX-5, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Mazda CX-5 is good to drive, while decent levels of comfort, space and tech help it challenge the leading mid-size SUV pack
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Mazda CX-5 is fun to drive for an SUV, while improved refinement and comfort make for a capable all-rounder
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsSkyActiv engine tech makes the Mazda CX-5 decently economical, while insurance should be reasonably cheap
- 4Interior, design and technologyWith smart styling and an upmarket, driver-focused cabin, the Mazda CX-5 is an attractive mid-size family SUV
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe CX-5 isn’t any bigger than before, although little detail changes help to make it more practical and comfortable
- 6Reliability and SafetyCustomers rate the Mazda CX-5's reliability, while safety levels are top-notch