Mazda CX-5 review 2020

Mazda’s largest SUV sold in the UK is a stylish and well-equipped choice, which is one of the best cars to drive in its class

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Out of 5


  • Great to drive
  • Well-equipped
  • Looks the part


  • Interior starting to show its age
  • No seven-seat option
  • High-spec versions are expensive
Model review

While not Mazda’s first SUV to be sold in Europe, the CX-5 was arguably the firm’s first true crossover-style model to be available in the UK. Debuting in 2012, the CX-5 quickly became a popular choice for those looking for a stylish SUV that was also good to drive – the latter attribute being a particular rarity in this segment.

It was the first Mazda production model to debut its ‘KODO’ design language too – something that remains to this day. It also introduced a host of ‘Skyactiv’ engines – these being known for their efficiency.

Mazda continued to evolve the CX-5 all the way through to when the second-generation debuted at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s classed as a second-generation model, though looks more like a facelift. It featured evolved engines and a bolder, fresher look. Other new features available include a head-up display and a new electric boot. This new model arrived in UK showrooms in 2017.

Current model

Mazda has consistently updated its CX-5 SUV each year, with 2018 seeing the introduction of a new petrol automatic variant, and additional safety kit fitted as standard – including blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

In 2019, Mazda introduced a new GT Sport Nav+ grade, along with the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity is standard. The latest 2020 update sees slight ergonomic interior tweaks, as well as efficiency improvements to the Skyactiv-G petrol engine – helping to cut CO2 emissions.

Value for money

Compared to rivals, the Mazda CX-5 doesn’t look like the affordable model it once was, with the range kickstarting from £27,030. At that price, though, it remains great when you consider the levels of standard kit it comes with – blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors and LED headlights being just a few highlights. However, with top-spec CX-5s costing nearly £40,000, buyers at this price point are more likely to be tempted by premium alternatives – you could get an Audi Q5 or BMW X3 for the same money, for example.  

But to get the best value for money, you should have a look at used examples. While prices start from as little as £5,000, for that you’ll be looking at a high-mileage example. Increase the budget to £8,000 and you’ll be able to buy a 2012 version with around 60,000 miles on the clock. Meanwhile the most affordable second-generation versions are available from £15,000. There are some pleasing savings on nearly-new versions, with CX-5s with just delivery miles available from £22,000. 

Looks and image

Whether you’re looking at a first- or second-generation CX-5, it’s good to see just how well this model’s looks have aged. Even the earliest 2012 models still look the part, with sharp styling that means they appear much fresher than other SUVs from the same time. But it’s the second-generation that really stands out with its evolution of Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language. This model also launched with a ‘Soul Red Crystal’ colour, which suits the CX-5 to a tee.

However, the area where the CX-5 blows the majority of its rivals out of the park is the way it drives. Most SUVs typically lack any element of enjoyment behind the wheel, but Mazda’s reputation for producing great-driving models really shows with this car. The steering is accurate and well-weighted, while there is a brilliant amount of grip with it. It really doesn’t feel too dissimilar to a regular hatchback to drive, which is high praise indeed. If you value driving enjoyment, the CX-5 should absolutely be on your shortlist. Yet despite this sporty feel, the CX-5 is still comfortable and refined.

Video review

Space and practicality

While offering additional spaciousness over a regular hatchback, the CX-5 is not as spacious or as versatile as other similarly sized SUVs.

Rear passenger space is one of the CX-5’s best assets with plenty of room for adults in the rear with generous headroom and legroom. The 506-litre boot is a good size, too, though not quite as large as that in the Volkswagen Tiguan or Skoda Karoq. It’s really the lack of versatility that’s noticeable – it just doesn’t have the flexible seating arrangements and storage options that you find with other rivals.

The CX-5 has an impressive safety record, too, having received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when tested in 2017. It also comes as standard with features such as rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring, which is a rarity on models of this size.



If you’re looking for a petrol CX-5, the only option is the Skyactiv-G – a 2.0-litre petrol unit, which produces 163bhp. All petrol models are front-wheel-drive, though there is an option of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The latter is half a second quicker to sprint from 0-60mph – taking 9.6 seconds, and reaching a top speed of 119mph.

As for diesel, there is one 2.2-litre unit, which is offered with outputs of either 148bhp or 181bhp. All 148bhp versions are front-wheel-drive, with all-wheel-drive coming with the higher-powered version, though you have the option of manual or automatic gearboxes across the range. The 181bhp version can reach 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 129mph. The CO2 emissions range from 151-184g/km – the 148bhp diesel being the best and the automatic 181bhp diesel being the worst for CO2.


Running costs

If you’re looking for the most efficient CX-5, you should take a look at the manual 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel, which is able to return up to 49.6mpg – impressive for a regular SUV like this. Meanwhile the petrol offering can return up to a claimed 40mpg, which matches the efficiency of the higher-output diesel model with the automatic gearbox. CO2 emissions range.

Things to look out for

The Mazda CX-5 has a fantastic reliability record, and has been rated as one of the most dependable choices available in various surveys – including Auto Express’s annual Driver Power.

The 2.2-litre is known to be slightly problematic, though, so it’s worth having any car independently expected before purchasing, while also ensuring that it has a full service record.



The mid-size crossover/SUV sector is an impressively fierce one, and the CX-5 certainly has no shortage of rivals. Particularly popular models in this market are the Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, while you should look at the Seat Ateca, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan. If you’d prefer a seven-seater, the Skoda Kodiaq offers this for a similar price to the CX-5.



Used CX-5s typically hold onto their value well, and there are still a few low-mileage examples available for less than £10,000. Nearly new models make a lot of sense, though, with savings of around £4,000 typically available on delivery mileage examples.

If you’re buying new, though, expect better residuals from models such as the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Trims explained

Mazda has slimmed down its CX-5 line-up, with just three trim levels now on offer – SE-L, Sport and GT Sport. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.


Standard equipment is very impressive on the CX-5, with even entry-level SE-L models coming with adaptive LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and an eight-inch touchscreen with Mazda Connect and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. Further kit includes keyless start, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Plenty of safety equipment is also fitted – such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and lane keep assist.

Priced from £27,030


Upgrading to Sport – the pick of the range – brings larger 19-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, an electric tailgate and a sunroof. It also comes with black leather seats, heated and electrically-operated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Bose sound system, keyless entry and a useful head-up display.

Priced from £30,130

'GT Sport'

Range-topping GT Sport versions come loaded with kit – including Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. It also brings a digital instrument cluster, LDD interior lighting and additional safety kit, such as a driver monitoring system and a 360-degree camera system.

Priced from £32,530


  1. Two generations of CX-5 to choose from
  2. Introduced in 2012, heavily revised model came in 2017
  3. One of the best SUVs to drive
  4. Loads of standard equipment
  5. Interior starting to look a bit dated
  6. Great styling
  7. Petrol versions are said to be more reliable
  8. Rivals are more spacious
  9. Five-star safety rating
  10. A stylish family SUV that’s great to drive too

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