Mazda CX-5 Review

Well made, spacious and good to drive: it's worth paying a bit extra for the Mazda CX-5

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Sharp-edged design
  • Strong diesel performance
  • Nimble, quiet and comfortable
  • Lacks genuine off-road ability
  • Expensive compared to rivals
  • Petrol cars are noticeably slower
Mazda CX-5 prices from £7,490.
Finance from £270.66 / month.

Mazda CX-5 prices from £7,490   Finance from £270.66 per month

Mazda built its reputation with low and sleek sports cars, but its biggest selling models are now tall, practical and focused on passenger comfort.

The large family-size CX-5 couldn't be more different from the fun and frivolous two-seat MX-5, but it does carry some of that roadster's spirit, bringing some justification to its label: there is some sport in this sport utility vehicle (SUV).

Unlike the majority of high-roofed and big-booted cars, the Mazda CX-5 feels light, with nimble steering and strong performance. Despite this hint of sportiness, it's also comfortable for passengers and comes with plenty of space to stretch out in the front and back.

It's a more spacious and upmarket alternative to vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Karoq and Ford Kuga. These crossover cars are a similar size to a conventional hatchback but taller, with more rugged looks - like an off-road car.

The CX-5 is a step above in terms of exterior styling and interior quality - but also cost - so it also competes with the Volkswagen TiguanPeugeot 3008Land Rover Discovery Sport and Audi Q3

Even entry-level cars include sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors, 17in alloy wheels and climate control, while mid-range Sport Nav+ cars come with leather seats, a head-up display and heated steering wheel.

Some key improvements have been made since this version replaced the previous-generation Mazda CX-5 in 2017. Extra safety equipment, including adaptive cruise control that adjusts speedto keep a safe distance from any vehicle in front, and lane keep assist, which steers the car into line if it's drifting out of its lane, became standard at the end of 2018. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard from February 2018, bringing your phone apps onto the car's 7in dashboard display.

Practicality is one of the CX-5's strong points, with ample legroom in the rear for adults and seats that recline by a few extra percent over rival models offering a relaxing space to be. Headroom is slightly lacking, due to that its sweeping roof, but it is likely to only affect the tallest family members.

Boot space with the rear seats intact is a over 100-litres more than the rival Nissan Qashqai and slightly less than the enormous Kia Sorento. Better still, there's an easy folding rear seat mechanism that's operated by a handle in the boot. Simply pull it and those split rear seats fold flat with a smooth movement to free up an impressive 1620-litres of load space. 

The CX-5 is smooth over rough roads and has plenty of sound deadening for a calm, quiet atmosphere inside. Its sporty character makes it an enjoyable car to drive, with little leaning in corners that typically affects these high-riding vehicles and strong diesel engines that provide enough punch for hasty acceleration.

The 19in wheels on high-specification Sport Nav cars suit the car better but occasionally make the CX-5 unsettled on motorways, where it can twitch slightly as it rolls over uneven surfaces.

Two sets of Isofix mounts on the rear seats make it easy to attach child seats safely, and a five star rating from the independent Euro NCAP association in 2017 makes the CX-5 one of the safest family SUVs on the market at the moment.


Key facts

Warranty 3-years / 60,000 miles
Boot size 506 litres
Width 1840mm
Length 4555mm
Height 1675mm
Tax £200 to £500 in first year, £140 thereafter

Best Mazda CX-5 for...

Best for Economy – Mazda CX-5 SE-L Nav+ 2.2 150PS Skyactiv-D

The least-powerful diesel CX-5 is the most efficient model. You can expect around 42mpg in real-world driving, which matches the Volkswagen Tiguan and is a little better than a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Performance is reasonable and SE-L Nav+ trim relatively affordable.

Best for Families – Mazda CX-5 Sport Nav+ 2.2 150PS Skyactiv-D AT

The entry-level diesel engine offers the best combination of fuel economy and performance for most families, while Sport Nav+ adds useful equipment, including a reversing camera, heated front seats, head-up display and leather seat trim for an additional £2,500 when new.

Best for Performance – Mazda CX-5 GT Sport Nav+ 2.2 184PS Skyactiv-D

This model is at the top of the CX-5 range, available with the most powerful diesel engine, enabling it to accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. It's not particularly quick, but no other CX-5 is faster. Standard equipment includes bright adaptive LED headlights, which bring maximum light to dark roads, without blinding other drivers, improving safety when driving fast at night.

One to Avoid – Mazda CX-5 SE-L Nav+ 2.0 165PS Skyactiv-G

The CX-5's petrol engine provides plenty of power but needs to be revved hard - unlike the diesels. This characteristic means that petrol versions tend to be noiser and have a lexx relaxed feel.


  • July 2017 New Mazda CX-5 goes on sale in Britain in SE-L Nav and Sport Nav trim
  • September 2018 Updates add more safety equipment. These cars are badged SE-L Nav+ and Sport Nav+. Output of most powerful diesel engine increases from 175hp to 184hp.
  • February 2019 Top-of-the-range GT Sport Nav+ added, with standard 360-degree camera, Nappa leather and adaptive LED headlights. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added as standard across the range.

Understanding Mazda CX-5 names

Trim level Sport Nav+

Each trim level offers a different amount of standard equipment, for a different price. Cheapest is SE-L Nav+, followed by Sport Nav+, then GT Sport Nav+.

Engine 2.2 184PS Skyactiv-D

Mazda badges its petrol engines Skyactiv-G (for gasoline) and diesel versions are Skyactiv-D. The size may be shown in litres (here it's 2.2), and you may also see the power in PS - a measure that's virtually identical to horsepower.

Driven wheels AWD

All-wheel drive (AWD) models send power from the engine to all four wheels, which improves grip when accelerating, and can be particularly useful on slippery surfaces or while towing. Other CX-5s are two-wheel drive (2WD), as they only send power to the front wheels, which reduces weight and improves fuel economy.

Gearbox AT

Mazda labels automatic versions of the CX-5 as AT.

Mazda CX-5 Engines

Petrol: 2.0 165PS Skyactiv-G
Diesel: 2.2 150PS SKYACTIV-D, 2.2 184PS SKYACTIV-D

The Mazda CX-5 is best with a diesel engine. The only petrol option requires more revving to get the best of its performance, which makes journeys noisy and less relaxing. It doesn't do much for fuel economy either, so you can expect around 35mpg in real-world driving.

Diesel fuel economy is a similar story. Both available engines will return between 40 to 45mpg in typical road conditions, which is no worse than most other similar diesel SUVs.

The least-powerful 150PS Skyactiv-D diesel engine is almost £2,000 more expensive than the petrol when new, but it does transform the car. Power builds quickly after pressing the accelerator, enabling the CX-5 to surge forward calmly. The pace is quickened a little with the more powerful 184hp engine, which is combined with all-wheel drive.

All engines are available with either an automatic or manual gearbox. The former adds around £1,500 to the cost of the car, and shifts gears smoothly, with only a short delay to find the right gear when you push hard on the accelerator. Fuel economy is reduced by 1-2mpg with the automatic gearbox, and acceleration from 0-62mph is slower by around half a second.



Official fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

2.0 Skyactiv-G






2.2 150 Skyactiv-D






2.2 175 Skyactiv-D






Mazda CX-5 Trims

SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+, GT Sport Nav+

Many drivers won't need to look beyond the entry-level CX-5 SE-L Nav, which comes packed with equipment, including 17in alloy wheels, bright LED headlights, which switch on automatically when it gets dark; front and rear parking sensors; and climate control.

The touchscreen on the dashboard includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software (from February 2019), for easy use of phone apps using the screen or voice control. Sat-nav is standard, along with a digital radio and an increasingly rare CD player.

Cars with a plus sign (SE-L Nav+) are more recent models that include extra safety equipment as standard. Blind spot monitoring is included, as is adaptive cruise control, which will adjust your car's speed to maintain a safe distance in front. Rear cross traffic alert will warn you if you're reversing into the path of an oncoming car, while lane-keep assist will steer your car back onto the right track if it's about to drift out of white lane markings.

Sport Nav+ trim looks like an expensive upgrade in the brochure, as it adds around £2,500 to the price. It does bring significant extras, which include 19in alloy wheels, a reversing camera, leather seats, a motorised bootlid, head-up display, heated front seats and steering wheel, plus a Bose stereo system. The petrol and 184hp diesel cars are fitted with a sunroof. 

At the top of the range, GT Sport Nav+ cars come with higher-grade Nappa leather, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a 360-degree camera, wood interior panels and adaptive LED headlights, which adjust the main beam to maximise light without dazzling other drivers.

Only a few items are available as optional extras, so you're best off choosing a specification that comes with the equipment you want as standard.

Used Mazda CX-5

Even though the current-generation CX-5 remains relatively new, there are some key updates that are worth knowing about if you're looking at a used or nearly-new version.

Cars that have a plus sign after the trim level (eg SE-L Nav+ or Sport Nav+) were sold after September 2018 and come with a raft of extra safety equipment as standard, detailed above. These were part of a £1,600 option pack on earlier models, and are particularly useful on long-distance journeys where the technology will steer the car in its lane and maintain a safe distance from any vehicle in front.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto only arrive on the CX-5 from February 2019, when they will be standard across the range, loading familiar graphics and sophisticated voice control when you plug a compatible phone in.

The popularity of the CX-5 means that you won't find any bargain basement versions of the current car but this works to your advantage if you're planning to take out finance. Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance repayments are based on the difference between the price of the car and the amount that it's expected to be worth in future. Because the car holds onto its value well, monthly payments may be more affordable than you think.

Prices for the current model start at £7,490 on BuyaCar, with finance starting from £270.66 per month. The previous-generation CX-5 is also worth considering. It's still an excellent family car, which isn't too far below the existing model when it comes to comfort and agility. It costs much less too. BuyaCar prices start at  £7,490 and monthly finance is from £270.66.

Other Editions

CX-5 (2012 – 2017)

The Mazda CX-5 offers a car-like driving experience in a spacious crossover design