Mazda CX-5 Review 2024

Mazda CX-5 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
We're big fans of the Mazda CX-5. Its stylish looks continue to turn heads today, while its cabin is spacious and superbly finished. It's not a cheap option, but you do get a lot for your money. It's just a shame the engine line-up is mediocre at best.

+Classy and versatile interior. Generous equipment levels. Top-spec GT Sport feels particularly plush. Handling strikes a good balance between sportiness and comfort.

-Poor infotainment system on earlier models. Slow (and thirsty) petrol engine. No hybrids.

New prices start from £24,095, brokers can source from £27,220
Insurance Groups are between 15–21
On average it achieves 86% of the official MPG figure

The Mazda CX-5 proves that you don't have to compromise on style or driver appeal when buying an SUV. Not only does it look just as fresh today as when it first arrived in 2017, it remains one of the most enjoyable SUVs to drive. The interior, meanwhile, is exquisite – giving you little reason to buy a Volkswagen Tiguan or Ford Kuga over one of these.

There is, of course, a caveat. One of our biggest criticisms of the Mazda CX-5 is its engine line-up. The lack of a hybrid powertrain wasn't really a big deal five years ago but today, with competition from the lacks of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, it seems more than just an oversight.

Instead, you get a choice of traditional petrol or diesel power. And we really mean traditional – the petrol engines aren't small capacity turbocharged units like you'll find in rivals; you can even buy the Mazda CX-5 with a thirsty (and not particularly powerful) 2.5-litre petrol engine.

It's unfashionable to say so, but we reckon the Mazda CX-5 is at its best with a diesel engine. You can buy a 2.2-litre turbodiesel with 150PS or 184PS – the lower powered unit is fine, unless you want four-wheel drive. That's only available on the higher powered model, while buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

Engines aside, the Mazda CX-5 is a lovely SUV to drive. While it feels surprisingly agile, that doesn't come at the expense of ride comfort. Sure, models with the 19-inch alloy wheels will patter a little over potholes, but it's not offensively firm.

Inside, the Mazda CX-5 is spacious and does without gimmicks. You can decide if that's a good thing – there's no sliding rear bench, for example, nor a massive touchscreen display taking pride of place on the centre of the dash. It's extremely well finished, though, with premium materials that put a Ford Kuga's cabin to shame.

All models from 2021 onwards come with an impressive 10.25-inch navigation system, operated by a rotary controller down on the centre console. It's super easy to use, while its sharp graphics and fast responses add to the CX-5's premium ambience.

While it's tempting to go for the pricier Mazda CX-5 trim levels, there's not necessarily any need to. All CX-5 models are well equipped, with even the entry-level SE-L come with the aforementioned sat-nav, front/rear parking sensors and a long list of driver-assist technology (including radar cruise control and an emergency braking system).

The Mazda CX-5 continues to be a left-field choice, but we think it's a shame that few buyers give it more than a passing consideration. It looks great, feels great and is great to drive, with only a slightly lacklustre engine line-up letting it down.

Looking for a second opinion? Read heycar's Mazda CX-5 review.

Ask Honest John

What is the most underrated SUV?

"What in your opion is the most underrated SUV? "
Possibly the Citroen C5 Aircross. It's very comfortable and practical but many buyers overlook it in favour of rivals. We like the Mazda CX-5, too, as well the bigger CX-60.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can I swap spare wheels?

"I have a spacesaver wheel off my Mazda CX-5 21 reg, will it fit my 22-reg Hyundai Tuscon Hybrid?"
The Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson share a hub bore of 67.1mm and a bolt pattern of 5 x 114.3 with M12 x 1.5 threads, so theoretically the space saver from your Mazda will fit the Hyundai, but the offset is slightly different, so if you do need to use it it would be wise to get the original tyre repaired as soon as possible.
Answered by David Ross

Which automatic is the most reliable?

"Which five-year-old SUV has the most reliable automatic gearbox?"
The reliability of automatic gearboxes has improved significantly over the years, even for more complex configurations like dual-clutch automatics that have now been around for 20 years. It's also important to remember that no automatic gearbox is impervious to neglect, so if you're buying a used car then a full service history is a must. We would suggest the BMW X3 (or X4) with the eight-speed automatic, the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Lexus RX.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend a replacement for a Kia Ceed?

"Our Kia Ceed has died after 13 years. We need a second hand replacement. We camp, roof box, bikes on back so need a bigger car. We cannot afford a lot. "
Have you considered a Kia Sportage? It's an SUV but not a big or inefficient one, so it'll be more practical and should feel familiar. A 2015-on Sportage will still have some warranty left. Other alternatives we rate include the Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan/Skoda Karoq or Kodiaq, Honda CR-V and Ford Kuga. If you don't want an SUV, why not look at a newer Ceed Sportswagon, or a Skoda Octavia estate? Both will be much roomier than your Ceed and should be more economical than the SUVs.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a Mazda CX-5 cost?

Buy new from £27,220(list price from £31,045)