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What is the Mazda CX-5?

The mid-sized family SUV market is massively competitive, but the Mazda CX-5 is one of the strongest models in it. As its name suggests, the CX-5 is the bigger brother to the Mazda CX-3 compact crossover, and boasts dimensions and interior space sufficient for it to compete with big-sellers such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai.

Though the CX-5 was launched in 2012, the current-generation model only dates back to 2017. In those five years, Mazda listened to its customers – and the latest model addresses concerns buyers had with the original, including its styling and interior quality.

The result is a handsome, well-specified SUV with plenty of room for growing families. Best of all, it retains Mazda’s trademark of excellent driving dynamics, making this one of the most enjoyable cars in its class.

At-a-glance 2019 Mazda CX-5 specs

  • Top-speed: 119-129mph
  • 0-62mph: 9.3-10.7 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 36.7-49.6mpg
  • Emissions: 128-150g/km CO2
  • Boot space: 494-1,620 litres

Which versions of the Mazda CX-5 are available?

The Mazda CX-5 is offered in a single body style and with a choice of three engines: one 2.0-litre petrol and two 2.2-litre diesels. The petrol is called Skyactiv-G and produces 165hp; Skyactiv-D diesels come in 150hp and 184hp guises. Every engine is available with a choice of a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic gearboxes. The range-topping 184hp diesel comes solely in all-wheel-drive (AWD) guise, while the other engines are offered purely in front-wheel-drive form; hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are not yet available.

Mazda continues its logical approach with trim variants: you can opt for your CX-5 in SE-L Nav+, Sport Nav+ or GT Sport Nav+ specification. Each can be personalized with a range of options, too, including a boot storage system and a rear-view camera, while the Sport Nav+ is available with a driver-assisting Safety Pack.

Mazda CX-5 long-term review

What is the Mazda CX-5 performance derivative?

The most powerful model in the range is the 184hp 2.2-litre diesel which is also available in conjunction with a slick six-speed manual gearbox – reminiscent of that found in the svelte MX-5. With a steering wheel also modelled on the two-seat roadster, drivers can at least pretend they’re in a sports car, even with the kids jabbering away in the back. A higher-performing petrol CX-5 may be on the horizon, that said; the firm is launching its exceedingly clever Skyactiv-X engine later in the year and it’s expected to be offered in the CX-5 in early 2020.

How does the Mazda CX-5 drive?

The Mazda CX-5 is a sophisticated and engaging SUV to drive. First impressions are of a premium-grade machine; the controls have a robust, well-weighted feel and the manual gear change really does feel like it’s been honed by the same people who build the sporty MX-5.

Mazda CX-5 rear, red

Noise levels are low – Mazda worked hard here to improve things over the original – and the ride is fairly pliant, even on the large 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to Sport versions.

There is one slight weakness, though: the engines. Diesel models are rather clattery at low speeds and when accelerating, while the 2.0-litre petrol is a non-turbo model. Consequently, it lacks the in-gear muscle that some might expect and can be pretty vocal when revved. This can make a petrol CX-5, particularly a fully laden one, quite tiring to drive.

How much does the Mazda CX-5 cost?

The CX-5 is competitively priced, often costing a similar amount to its mainstream rivals. It’s also generously equipped, so if you like creature comforts then it’s well worth investigating – the SE-L Nav+, for example, comes with LED headlights, a blind-spot monitor and radar cruise control.

The diesel and automatic variants predictably cost more and, if you want a Sport Nav+ or GT Sport Nav+ model, there’s a big price hike to endure. A range of options are available but the most notable one is the Safety Pack, which is only available on Sport Nav+ versions as it’s included as standard on GT Sport Nav+ grade. It adds adaptive LED headlights, a 360-degree camera, rear smart city brake support and driver attention alert.

Find out what CX-5 drivers think of the Mazda crossover with our user-generated owners’ reviews.

Mazda CX-5 Model History

First-generation Mazda CX-5 (2012-2017)

Mazda CX-5 Mk1

The original CX-5 was launched in 2012 as Mazda’s first targeted entrant into the mid-size SUV segment. It had offered both larger models before and more 4x4-like SUVs, but the CX-5 was the first family-friendly SUV with crossover cues from the Japanese brand.

The CX-5 promptly proved a popular choice and Mazda enjoyed growing success with it, which was boosted further in 2015 with a well-judged facelift. The equipment offered was also improved and the interior layout honed.  Production subsequently had to be increased to meet global demand from markets including Europe, Japan and the United States.