Review: Mazda CX-5 (2017)
Enjoyable to drive, head-turning looks, upmarket interior.
Touchscreen looks a bit cheap compared to rivals. Petrol feels slow compared to turbocharged rivals. Diesel can be noisy when revved.
Mazda CX-5 (2017): At A Glance
- New prices start from £29,095, brokers can source from £21,826
- Contract hire deals from £241.20 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 15–23
- On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure
Crossovers and SUVs are where the family money goes these days, with many buyers resigned that their usefulness does come with some compromises in style or driver appeal. The Mazda CX-5 defies that norm though, being both good looking and entertaining behind the wheel.
That’s enough to make it one to recommend among SUV rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan, SEAT Ateca, Honda CR-V, as well as the vast array of crossover competition headed by Nissan’s huge-selling Qashqai.
Mazda has never been afraid to buck convention and it’s obvious with the CX-5. The styling is bold and distinctive, with a pronounced grille and tapered headlights being very dramatic, making for a shapely SUV.
That’s hugely refreshing alongside the CX-5’s rather prosaically-styled competitors. The surface detailing along its sides, as well as the distinctive rear lights mean it’s got seriously head-turning kerb appeal, which is helped no small part by its relative scarcity in the UK in comparison to omnipresent rivals like Nissan’s Qashqai.
It’s sharp and attractive looking enough to put it up against many premium rivals, it feeling upmarket enough to elevate it above its mainstream competition. That’s largely true inside, the cabin having some flair, though it’s not at the expense of user-friendliness, or space.
The range of engines is, somewhat unsurprisingly, dominated by diesel choices, specifically a 2.2-litre turbodiesel which Mazda dubs Skyactiv-D. It is available in either 150PS or 184PS outputs, mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The lower powered version is the big seller, and can be had in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the higher output 184PS model only coming with all-wheel drive.
If you’re put off by diesels, Mazda does offer a sole 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine in the CX-5, it developing 165PS and mated to the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive only. It's a naturally-aspirated engine, which will feel slow if you're used to a turbocharged petrol - but it's refined and is likely to be reliable.
Three trim choices are offered, and they’re all comprehensively equipped. SE-L Nav offers the best value for money, featuring 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with daytime running lights, dual-zone climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, internet app integration, DAB radio, four USB sockets, aux-in, Bluetooth telephone connection and safety equipment like Smart City Brake Support, Stability and traction control and Isofix child seat anchors in the outside rear seats.
While the Mazda CX-5 isn't an obvious choice like more conventional rivals, it's a classy offering in a competitive sector. Its engine line-up doesn't shine, but its interior is practical and upmarket and it's great to drive.
What does a Mazda CX-5 (2017) cost?
Mazda CX-5 (2017): What's It Like Inside?
Don’t expect any revolutionary changes inside the Mazda CX-5’s interior over its predecessor, as it’s more of a case of improve and enhance than radically remodel. The centre console is now higher than previously, which raises both the gearstick and brings a more usefully proportioned bin between the seats.
Those front seats are comfortable, well bolstered and offer plenty of adjustment. And behind there’s good space for a pair of adults, with three possible at a push. The centre seat is, like most rivals, a bit of an afterthought, its pronounced cushion and backrest pushing the passenger forward and ahead of the pair flanking them, which does, at least mean there’s a bit of shoulder room.
The boot is decently sized, the access to it eased by a powered tailgate on GT Sport Nav+ models. The rear seats fold flat via a 40/20/40 split for a flat floor, while the backrests also recline if you don’t need all that bootspace with the seats up.
The cabin feels more premium than many rivals, with lots of soft-touch materials. The seven-inch touchscreen display works well enough, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard from 2019 (allowing you to bypass the slightly old-school navigation system using your mobile phone). The infotainment system can be controlled via touchscreen itself or a simple rotary controller between the front seats.
Clear instrumentation, a useful head-up display on GT Sport Nav+ models and plenty of equipment in all trim levels complete the CX-5’s fine interior, which is right up with the class best.
Specifications (June 2019):
SE-L Nav+ features auto door locking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, hill launch assist, ISOFIX child seat anchorage to outer rear seats, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, adjustable speed limiter, dual-zone climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, DAB radio, seven-inch colour touchscreen display, steering wheel audio controls, navigation with European mapping, manual seat adjustment, 40:20:40 folding rear seats.
Sport Nav+ adds smart keyless entry, premium Bose sound system, windscreen-projected colour active driving display, electric power slide front seats, black leather seats, heated steering wheel.
GT Sport Nav+ features real wood inlays, a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, nappa leather seats, front seat ventilation with three-stage setting, heated outer rear seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique stitching.
Child seats that fit a Mazda CX-5 (2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mazda CX-5 (2017) like to drive?
The previous CX-5 was justifiably praised as the class leader when it came to driver appeal and in its transformation to this third generation none of that sharpness has been lost. While engagement behind the wheel might not be at the top of most buyer’s wish list, that it feels so inherently right to drive will be appreciated by everybody.
The petrol engine is anomalous in this class, with only a handful of buyers likely to favour it over the diesel. Unlike many petrol engines used in rival cars, it's naturally-aspirated rather than turbocharged. This means it needs working really hard - only really showing any hint of performance at high revs, and regularly requiring the driver to drop down a gear, even during motorway driving.
All it does is strengthen the case for the 2.2-litre turbodiesel, as if it needed any justification. Two outputs are offered, and while it’s always tempting to suggest bigger is better, you’re unlikely to find the 34PS and 65Nm increases make a compelling case for the more powerful 184PS over the 150PS one.
Add the fact that you have to have all-wheel drive with it and you’ll have to be sure you’ve a particularly treacherous driveway to tackle each day to justify the additional outlay.
The front-wheel-drive 150PS model with the six-speed manual it is then, though we’d concede, excellent as the manual transmission is, many might prefer the ease of the six-speed automatic. Do that and there’s a slight drop in the 0-62mph time - from 9.9 seconds to 10.7 seconds - but if you notice that then you’re calibrated like a stopwatch and you might like to send in an application for a roadtesting job here.
The diesel engine’s performance is class competitive rather than outstanding, likewise the refinement doesn’t quite manage the hushed levels of some, but neither is it so raucous to be a distraction. Opt for the automatic gearbox and it feels like a premium car, with smooth shifts although nothing to shout about in terms of performance.
The manual shift is noteworthy, it feeling particularly mechanical in its action, and, genuinely not dissimilar in its feel to Mazda’s MX-5 sports car. Whether that’s a virtue depends entirely on your expectations, but its precision is welcome compared to the class norm of relative vagueness.
Given all that the chassis should be good, too and it doesn’t disappoint. Mazda seemingly values such things, reducing weight in a bid to improve not just economy, but driving dynamics. It’s notable then, that the CX-5 steers with a crisp precision that’s more hatchback in its turn-in than SUV, while the ride is commendably composed even for what passes for roads in the UK.
Upgrades in 2019 include a thicker front anti-roll bar and a smaller rear anti-roll bar, while the CX-5's torque vectoring system has been tweaked. You'll struggle to notice the difference under day-to-day driving, but it remains one of the best handling SUVs on the market.
With the state of our roads we’d stick with the 17-inch alloys of the SE-L Nav model, the 19-inch wheels of the higher-spec models seeing the CX-5’s chassis eventually bowing to the crumbling state of our tarmac and interrupting the otherwise fine ride with some interference.
If you're after efficiency, a 150PS two-wheel-drive diesel manual will be the best choice, with its official combined 47.9mpg under WLTP fuel economy tests. According to our Real MPG data, this is a fairly realistic figure to achieve. That drops to 43.5mpg with the automatic, while the 184PS four-wheel-drive model returns 42.8mpg with the manual transmission. The auto is good for 39.8mpg.
|2.0||44 mpg||10.3–10.4 s||145–149 g/km|
|2.0 Automatic||43 mpg||9.8 s||150 g/km|
|2.2 D 150||57–58 mpg||9.4–9.9 s||128–132 g/km|
|2.2 D 150 4WD||52 mpg||9.6 s||142 g/km|
|2.2 D 150 Automatic||50–51 mpg||10.1–10.7 s||143–147 g/km|
|2.2 D 150 Automatic 4WD||49 mpg||10.3 s||152 g/km|
|2.2 D 175 4WD||52 mpg||9.0 s||142 g/km|
|2.2 D 175 Automatic 4WD||49 mpg||9.5 s||152 g/km|
|2.2 D 184 4WD||54 mpg||9.3 s||137 g/km|
|2.2 D 184 Automatic 4WD||51 mpg||9.6 s||147 g/km|
|2.2 D 4WD||-||-||137 g/km|
|2.2 D Automatic 4WD||-||-||145 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mazda CX-5 (2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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