Car Review: Mazda CX 5, What You Need to Know About CX 5

The Mazda CX-5 is attractively styled inside and out, a departure from rivals' rather practical appearances. It's also more engaging and sporty to drive, which should appeal to those who crave more performance and a more confident on-road feel.

Car Review: Mazda CX 5, What You Need to Know About CX 5

Small crossovers SUVs are hugely popular with car shoppers and it's easy to see why. They provide convenience, safety, utility, and versatility without being overly expensive. But it's also fair to say that most of these SUVs, as useful as they are, don't evoke a lot of passion. One notable exception, however, is the Mazda CX-5.


How does the CX-5 drive? The base engine provides underwhelming acceleration from a stop or while moving. Overtaking on the highway requires some planning. The 0-60 mph run track takes 8.7 seconds, quick compared to rivals with similar engines. The available turbocharged engine gets the CX-5 to 60 mph in only 6.6 seconds.

Handling is where the CX-5 excels. Since it's sharp and communicative, you can take corners at speeds greater than rivals without squealing tires or feeling like you're out of control. The car is unfazed by quick left-to-right transitions. This is the best-handling small crossover. No doubt about it.


How comfortable is the CX-5? The front seats are shaped well, though the side bolsters squish to the side during hard cornering. The rear bench is flat on the bottom, which might make long-distance driving uncomfortable for rear passengers. But the rear seatback can recline for added comfort.

The CX-5's ride quality is firm but not uncomfortable. Mid corner bumps barely faze the CX-5, and it never feels floaty. Road imperfections are dealt with immediately. Noise in the cabin is really only evident at highway speeds. Even then, you won't have to raise your voice to talk to passengers.

Fuel Economy

How’s the fuel economy? Estimated fuel economy stands at 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving for an AWD CX-5. In the test drive, AWD CX-5 consumed 28.8 mpg in the 115-mile mixed-driving evaluation route, so you can probably expect to match the EPA's number. Some top rival crossover SUVs will still get you slightly better fuel economy.


How’s the storage? It has a slightly smaller cargo area than competitors, but we could fit two large suitcases without impeding rear visibility. The portal to load items is also a little smaller than the Honda CR-V's because of a higher cargo floor height and shorter max open height of the liftgate. Storage space for small items inside the cabin is abundant.


How’s the tech? The infotainment system is easy to use overall, though some virtual button iconography is hard to decipher. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included but are slow to connect, as are the standard USB and Bluetooth connections. Mazda's voice control system is based on natural speech recognition. It's good at destination entry, calling people, and tuning to terrestrial radio stations.

The usability of the CX-5's advanced driver aids is a mixed bag. The lane departure warning system emits a unique low-pitched buzzing sound that really gets your attention. But the blind-spot monitor is overly sensitive, even triggering while passing vehicles that are several car lengths behind.

Mazda CX-5 models

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 crossover is offered in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature, each one offering an increasing level of features.

The Touring trim is a great way to go if you need to stay on a relatively tight budget. It comes with a pleasing collection of features, including smartphone integration and a power-adjustable driver's seat. But the CX-5 becomes a lot more fun to drive with its turbocharged engine. Unfortunately, that means stepping up to the more expensive Grand Touring Reserve trim, but in return, you get the more powerful engine plus additional luxury-oriented features.