Used Mazda CX-5 Mk1 review

A full used buyer’s guide to the Mazda CX-5 covering the CX-5 Mk1 (2012-2017)

Mazda CX-5 Mk1


The CX-5 reached showrooms in spring 2012 with 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel engines, the latter in 148bhp or 173bhp guises. It was the first car to feature Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, comprising lightweight construction along with more efficient engines and transmissions to cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Initially there were SE-L and Sport trims, but an SE-L Lux arrived in October 2013 as a new mid-range option aimed at fleets. It featured a standard sunroof and leather trim.

Suspension revisions in spring 2014 improved the ride comfort and refinement, before a facelifted CX-5 in 2015 brought extra kit, upgraded interior trim, optional LED headlamps and a seven-inch display on the dash in place of the previous 5.8-inch unit. 

Which one should I buy?

If you want four-wheel drive or an auto box, you’ll have to buy a diesel CX-5, as the 2.0-litre petrol comes in two-wheel-drive manual form only. The high-powered diesel is available only with 4WD, but the 2.2D 150 can be front or four-wheel drive.

The SE-L comes with 17-inch alloys and parking sensors front and rear. Plus, there’s dual-zone climate control, a 5.8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, city braking, cruise control and automatic wipers. The Sport adds 19-inch rims, bi-xenon headlights, leather trim, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a reversing camera and a nine-speaker Bose stereo. Both are also available in Nav spec, with an integrated sat-nav.

Alternatives to the Mazda CX-5

For value, driving pleasure and choice, the Mk2 Ford Kuga is hard to beat, and it’s pretty reliable, too. We love the Skoda Yeti for its practicality, dependability and build quality, while the Mk3 Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35 offer reliability, value and good warranties.

The Mk4 Toyota RAV4 is another capable alternative, and so, too, is Honda’s fourth-generation CR-V. Both offer efficient engines and reliability, but the dynamics disappoint.

If your budget is flexible, the Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque and VW Tiguan all look great and are well built. One of the CX-5’s toughest adversaries is the Mk2 Nissan Qashqai, which is a superb all-rounder.

What to look for


If you buy a car without sat-nav, you should simply be able to buy an SD card and insert it into the slot to get nav. But post-2015 facelift cars come with their own cards. 


The Mazda’s Bluetooth set-up can be a little temperamental, either refusing to pair with a smartphone or sometimes not allowing you to make calls once paired.


Mazda’s diesel engine can suffer from the oil being diluted with fuel, thanks to DPF regeneration issues. This pushes up maintenance costs.

Tyre noise

Some owners have found their CX-5s generate a disappointing amount of road noise. The tyres and road surface make all the difference.


The CX-5’s dash is easy to get along with, but some materials look and feel cheap. Cabin space is good, with plenty of head and legroom for four adults, although it’s tight for five. Storage space is decent, while the large boot can swallow 503 litres, or 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded flat.

Running costs

All CX-5s need to be serviced every 12 months or 12,000 miles. There’s no difference in costs between petrol and diesel models, as both are pegged at £195, £270, £275, £275 and £185 before the cycle starts again. As both the 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines are fitted with timing chains designed to last the lifetime of the engine, there are no cambelts to replace.

The brake fluid does need to be changed every two years at a cost of £72, though. The coolant should be renewed after 10 years or 125,000 miles, then every five years or 62,500 miles. Expect to pay £83.40 for this work.


Mazda builds some of the most reliable cars around, so it’s no surprise that the CX-5 hasn’t been recalled yet. Indeed, the brand has issued just five recalls since 2012, two of which were for cars built between 2001 and 2004.

The others were for the 5 and another for the 6, both because of potential short circuits, while the later 3 and 6 were recalled because of the possibility of problems with the stop/start system. But so far, there have been no campaigns launched for the CX-5, which is reassuring. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

After making its debut in fifth in Driver Power 2013, the CX-5 slipped to 13th in 2014, then to 64th in 2015. Yet it rose to 49th in this year’s poll, with owners praising performance, practicality, handling, ease of driving and ride quality. The lowest scores are for running costs and in-car tech.

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