The Mazda CX-5 mid-size SUV has been consistently picking out the top spot in its segment. In one of the most competitive categories with no fewer than 10 players, the CX-5’s popularity among SUV buyers begs the question – what’s the CX-5’s magic?
That’s what we are here to explore. And if you’re in the market for a mid-size family SUV, you’ve come to the right place.
Range and pricing
The Mazda CX-5 range encompasses five trim levels, from the entry level Maxx to the range-topping Akera, configurable with different powertrain, transmission and drivetrain options. Last year, the engine line-up was expanded with the introduction of a new 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol variant, which joined the existing 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol units and the 2.2-litre turbo diesel offering.
All up, the CX-5 is available in 15 different variants, one of the most comprehensive line-ups of any mid-size SUVs in the segment.
Prices start from $29,770 and work their way up to $46,670. For this review, we are sampling the most popular mid-spec Touring grade which has sticker of $39,470 and comes fitted with the 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine and all-wheel drive.
2020 Mazda CX-5 model grade and price (excluding on-road costs)
|Maxx||2.0L petrol manual FWD||$29,770|
|2.0L petrol auto FWD||$31,770|
|2.5L petrol auto AWD||$34,770|
|Maxx Sport||2.0L petrol auto FWD||$34,870|
|2.5L petrol auto AWD||$37,870|
|2.2L twin-turbo diesel auto AWD||$40,870|
|Touring||2.5L petrol auto AWD||$39,470|
|2.2L twin-turbo diesel auto AWD||$42,470|
|GT||2.5L petrol auto AWD||$44,470|
|2.5L turbo petrol auto AWD||$46,970|
|2.2L twin-turbo diesel auto AWD||$47,470|
|Akera||2.5L petrol auto AWD||$46,670|
|2.5L turbo petrol auto AWD||$49,170|
|2.2L twin-turbo diesel auto AWD||$49,670|
On the outside
The mid-size SUV segment has no shortage of stylish entrants. Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 and Honda CR-V are all appealing machines, but the CX-5 is really something else. It looks premium. The front is especially imposing, with that large grille cutting in into the front bumper and flanked by a pair of slim headlights. The rear is neat, with a relatively short overhang for a sporty look. Joining both ends together are sweeping lines and sculpted surfaces that run down the sides of the car.
Every design element blends so well together in an almost perfectly proportioned body, with nothing too excessive nor too restrained. It looks right from pretty much every angle. There is really not much to fault as far as the exterior design goes.
Our only complaint is the lack of daytime running lights, not even halogen ones, in our Touring grade.
On the inside
There’s no doubt about it. The CX-5’s interior presentation is the best in class. Yes, the Peugeot 3008’s cabin feels more upmarket, and yes, the VW Tiguan’s is more high-tech, but nothing in the sub-$40k price point comes close to the CX-5 in terms of offering the right balance of style, comfort, usability and premium ambiance.
The dashboard is clean and uncluttered, with all switchgear located at where you’d expect them to be and within easy reach. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice to hold. The instrumentation cluster in our Touring grade is the conventional three-gauge set up, which is still clear and concise. For the fancier digital version you’d have to opt for the top-spec Akera model.
The materials feel and look really good, too. The gloss black trims around the centre console and door switches have good depth in them. The polished aluminium-look inserts look delicate. Even the synthetic leather on the seats feels almost like the real thing and the other synthetic suede half of it looks like alcantara.
Perhaps the only gripe we have about the interior is the rather small centre infotainment screen. Measuring 7 inches wide, it feels like it’s 2 inches smaller than today’s norm. But it does come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the Mazda MZD system is still one of the most user-friendly in the segment. The screen can be operated by touch, or via the rotary knob in the centre console.
The Touring grade’s 6-speaker stereo isn’t much of a sacrifice from the Bose 10-speaker premium sound system you get in the Akera, delivering good bass and clarity, which is something of a rarity in rivals’ mid-spec offerings.
Despite its compact dimensions, the CX-5’s interior space isn’t lacking, with good space up front and in the back for the average sized adult. The boot measures up to 442 litres which places it right in class average. The rear seats are 40/20/40 split folding, affording more practicality than most rivals’ 40/60 split version. With them tumbled, you get a sizable 1342 litres of cargo space.
Under the skin
The 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in the CX-5 Touring develops 140kW at 6,000rpm, accompanied with a peak torque of 252Nm at 4,000rpm. Mazda’s SkyActiv high compression engine technology is noticeable once you put your foot down, with it delivering good mid-range torque akin to those from a small capacity turbo engine. There’s more than enough grunt to haul the whole family around town and in the country.
Contrary to previous Mazda vehicles, drivetrain refinement is no longer an issue in the new CX-5. The engine is smooth and muted most of the time, and the six-speed automatic it’s paired with is equally buttery. In most proceedings, the drivetrain operates quietly in the background without bringing attention to itself. Prod it and it will get more vocal but nothing overly coarse or trashy.
For under $40k, the CX-5 Touring gets you a lot in terms of safety. The Touring comes fitted as standard with:
- Blind spot monitoring
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross traffic alert
- Smart brake support (automatic emergency braking)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic sign recognition
- Driver attention alert
- Head-up display
On the road
The CX-5 remains one of the best handling cars in the segment, with lively response from the brilliant chassis every time you turn the wheel. The car-like dynamics and well controlled body-roll make the CX-5 a joy to drive on challenging country B roads. The electric power steering may feel a bit too light at low speeds for some tastes, but it does weight-up significantly above 80km/h with it feeling quick and precise, allowing you to really put the car where you want it. Good traction from the all-wheel drive further affords added assurance on slippery surfaces.
Usually sporty handling comes at the expense of ride comfort. Not the CX-5, though. The suspension is pretty well sorted, firm enough to keep the SUV planted through the bends, yet still nicely compliant to smooth out bumps and ruts on our broken roads.
On the freeway, the CX-5 is quiet with wind and road noise well suppressed. It’s actually an excellent long distance car.
In the long run
The 2.5L four pot is one of the more efficient engines we have sampled, averaging a very respectable 8.4L/100km at the end of our extended 3-week long test, with four adults on board and air-con on most of the time. On the freeway its fuel use hovers around 6.0L/100km, making it an economical long distance car. On paper, the CX-5 2.5L is rated at 7.4L/100km on the combined average and economically chews on regular RON91 fuel.
Like most brands these days, Mazda offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, along with five-year roadside assist. There’s also a capped price servicing program that stretches 5 years, offered under the company’s ownership program known as Mazda Service Select.
The CX-5 requires a service every 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. Each service is capped at $325.20, totaling $1,626 over five years.
Is it good for Christmas?
Mazda Australia was kind enough to loan us the CX-5 for 3 weeks over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. And we didn’t hold back on making full use of it, throwing everything at it over this busiest time of the year. From short 5km trips to the shops to 500km road trips, we are glad to report that the Mazda did not skip a beat, even under the extreme Australian summer heat. Its compact footprint was appreciated around tight shopping mall car parks, while its all-wheel drive traction was ideal on the sand tracks leading to the beach.
This is an exceptionally easy car to live with, not just over the festive season but in general, and we can only imagine many years of fuss-free ownership.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Attractively styled inside and out
- Comprehensively equipped
- Excellent ride and handling balance
- Flawless build quality
- Daytime running lights only available in upper spec models
- Still only has smaller 7-inch infotainment screen
Three years on, the Mazda CX-5 remains as accomplished as ever. It looks great, is brilliant to drive and is very well equipped. It’s not hard to see why this is Australia’s best-selling SUV. The Touring tested here is the sweet spot of the range, packing all the essentials you need in a family SUV without blowing a hole in your wallet.
2020 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD pricing and specification
|Price (excluding on-road costs):||From: $39,470|
As tested: $39,470
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited km|
|Road side assist:||5 years|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/10,000km|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Engine:||2.5-litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol:|
140kW @ 6,000rpm, 252Nm @ 4,000rpm
|Power-to-Weight Ratio (W/kg):||98.8|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||Claimed: 9.7|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 7.4/Tested: 8.4|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||58|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, ESC, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-Keep Assist System, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Emergency Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, Smart Brake Support, Smart City Brake Support, Driver Attention Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, G-Vectoring Control, reverse view camera, front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX|
|Boot Space (min/max) (L):||442/1,342|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:||11.0|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,720|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,800/Unbraked: 750|
|Entertainment:||7-inch colour touchscreen, satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, iPod, 6-speaker|