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Mazda CX-5 review

This modern, sleek, mid-sized crossover is ideal for motorists who like SUV capabilities but don’t want a sluggish, boxy hulk. Instead the five-door, five-seater Mazda CX-5 offers car-like driving characteristics and more aerodynamic looks. The refined road behaviour is the top plus point for the CX-5 — some reviewers even compare it to Mazda’s famous MX-5 sports car.


All versions of this stylish CX-5 have a confident and contemporary style that’s distinctive and avoids the agricultural boxiness of some SUVs. A recent upgrade sharpened up the design even more.  

The post make-over models have a larger front grille and slimmer LED headlights, resulting in a sharp and sporty look that drivers will appreciate on their driveways, while still taking advantage of the car’s roomy offering for families.  

Look out for the smart new alloy wheels that complete the overall modern vibe of this motor. Rear privacy glass also makes rides as a back seat driver more comfortable.    

A recent upgrade sharpened up the design even more.  

What’s it like to drive?

The Mazda CX-5 provides all the benefits of SUV driving with great visibility from a commanding raised driving position and an ability to travel on more difficult surfaces. What it avoids are the handicaps of SUVs. It feels more like a car on curvy open roads – few rivals can match its cornering and refinement over bumpy surfaces.  

Drivers usually love the precise and well-weighted electronic power-assisted steering, while passengers simply sit back and enjoy the comfortable ride. 

The range encompasses two-wheel drive versions, which are more economical, and four-wheel drive models, which offer more grip over slippery surfaces. There’s also the option of diesel or petrol, automatic or manual gearboxes. Newer models get automatic emergency braking, helping it to a top five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. 

white mazda cx5

Few rivals can match its cornering and refinement over bumpy surfaces.  


The recent upgrade smartened the interior in a way that only previous owners would notice – there are a few more chrome highlights and some of the materials have been improved. That’s because the cabin was already pretty good, with a sense of quality to rival the German brands. 

Older cars still have a decent level of luxuries and technology on board, whatever trim level. Newer cars feature dual-zone climate control and a seven-inch infotainment screen accessed through its touchscreen or a handy rotary control. That brings you DAB, sat-nav and lots of connectivity options. The most recent high-spec versions come with a very impressive list of features, including electrically controlled, heated and ventilated leather front seats and a 10-speaker Bose stereo.  

Whatever age the CX-5, you’ll find there’s a well-arranged dashboard in front of the driver. The controls are clear and switches and buttons feel durable. In fact, most of the interior finish feels sturdy — as if it will take years of knocks and scrapes from typical family usage plus a bit of off-road adventure maybe.  

With good head and legroom in the front and back the occupants of the CX-5 have always had plenty of space – the one slight downfall is the boot – which isn’t as big as some rivals.

mazda cx-5 interior


Look out for CX-5 models with the extra luxuries extras fitted — they can take the Mazda crossover into the realms of premium motoring. Some come with a very useful powered tailgate for example.  

Although this lifts to reveal a boot that isn’t the biggest in the class, most owners find it easily swallows a week’s shopping or a weekend’s worth of going-away bags.  

If there’s something special to carry, the seats split and fold in a variety of clever ways to help maximise the load space too. Check the long list of features and you’ll find that most models have useful gadgets that make ownership easier including tyre pressure monitors and all-around parking sensors. 

Running costs and reliability

The CX-5 is quite a large crossover so buyers stepping up from a family car will find running costs a bit higher. It compares well to most SUV rivals, though. A manual two-wheel drive diesel version could return around 48mpg, while the thirstiest recent model is an automatic four-wheel-drive petrol model with around 37mpg.

What we love

Looks and drivability —these are the two important but simple reasons people choose the CX-5. Add in the long list of on-board equipment and luxuries and you’ll be able to see why this crossover has proved so popular that it now accounts for around a quarter of Mazda’s British sales.

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The Mazda CX-5 is one of the top contenders among mid-sized crossovers because of its good looks and car-like drivability. Inside, it’s spacious for passengers with plenty of onboard technology. It’s proving to be reliable too. 

This review was