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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.5

There’s a lot to like about the CX-5, from its comfortable and family-friendly cabin to its plentiful driving appeal. It’s also safe and exceptionally well equipped, while it’s great to look at, inside and out. As an alternative to cars such as the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Tiguan, it’s well worth your consideration.

Reasons to buy

  • One of the best SUVs to drive
  • Spacious, comfortable interior
  • Very well equipped

Running costs for a Mazda CX-5 3/5

Prices for the CX-5 start at a higher level than for rivals such as the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and even the Volkswagen Tiguan. Once you’ve factored in how much power, equipment and space you get for the money, however, the CX-5 looks like decent value. Residual values are expected to be strong, too, which helps keep long-term costs and finance deals competitive

The diesel and petrol engines available give fuel economy and CO2 emissions that are average for the class. The CX-5 doesn’t use Mazda’s latest advanced petrol engine technology yet, so there’s no mild hybrid technology. In fact, there’s no hybrid or electric version offered, in contrast to some of the CX-5’s rivals.

Reliability of a Mazda CX-5 3/5

Mazda has a respectable reliability record, with the brand rated fifth out of 40 manufacturers on the Warranty Direct Reliability Index. It achieved a mid-table position in the latest JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study, although its overall score was below the industry average.

The CX-5 comes with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, including a three-year paintwork warranty, and 12-year perforation warranty. That’s par for the course, but it’s not a match for the five- or seven-year warranties offered by rival Hyundai, Kia and Toyota models.

Safety for a Mazda CX-5 4/5

The CX-5 scored the maximum five stars when tested by Euro NCAP in 2017, and it remains competitive for safety kit today. Over and above six airbags and Hill Hold Assist, all models get Smart City Brake Support as standard, as well as Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and a radar-based cruise control system.

In addition, there’s Mazda’s Safety Pack, which is standard for top-spec models and a cost option for others. It includes Rear City Brake Support, which does a similar job to the automatic braking function but also works in reverse gear at low speed, and adaptive LED headlights that automatically turn off parts of the beam to prevent you dazzling other drivers.

How comfortable is the Mazda CX-5 4/5

The Mazda CX-5’s cabin is an appealing, comfortable place to spend your time. Everything looks and feels very classy, and the fine driving position and good visibility help you feel at ease behind the wheel.

The infotainment system, which is a 7.0-inch screen on the dashboard, is easy to use. When the car isn’t moving you can use it as a touchscreen, but this function disables when you’re on the move to prevent distraction, and you have to use a dial controller near the gearlever. Both these functions work well, while the menus are logical and the graphics are clear.

Practicality is excellent. Although the CX-5 is priced and specified to go head-to-head with the Volkswagen Tiguan, it’s a bigger vehicle, especially where it counts. Being slightly wider and a good bit longer means it provides more elbow room and a lot more legroom for rear-seat passengers. The rear seats can't slide back and forwards in the same way they do in the Tiguan, but the Mazda’s backrest can be reclined by a few degrees to help your passengers have a snooze.

The CX-5 also has a very large boot, with a 506-litre capacity that expands to 1,620 litres when you fold down the 40/20/40-split rear seat backs. These can be flipped down in a few seconds using handles just inside the boot, while higher-spec models also havea powered tailgate that can be controlled remotely via the key fob.

With lots of other storage spaces dotted around the cabin, the CX-5 is a very family-friendly option. That clearly goes for the four-legged members of it, too, because the CX-5 was named Best Car for Dog Owners in the 2019 Auto Trader New Car Awards.

Family-friendly it might be but the CX-5 is also surprisingly good fun, with a nimble feel and precise steering that make it very enjoyable to drive. While the ride is on the firm side, it’s never uncomfortable and gives the CX-5 great composure at speed.

Features of the Mazda CX-5 5/5

You get a really generous amount of standard kit on the CX-5. The entry-level model is a match for mid- or high-spec version of some rivals, with standard equipment that includes LED headlights and automatic power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with integrated sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. On top of that you get adaptive cruise control, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers and keyless entry.

One step up the trim ladder is quite a price hike but things get really luxurious, with extras including leather upholstery, a head-up display, powered tailgate and a Bose audio system. Among other things, top-spec cars gain plusher leather, a sunroof and a more sophisticated driver display.

Power for a Mazda CX-5 3/5

The CX-5’s 2.0-litre petrol engine is quite rare in that it doesn’t use a turbocharger to boost its power. Power output is a respectable 165 horsepower but you need to rev the engine hard to get decent performance out of it, whereas the turbocharged engines in many rivals feel just as gutsy at low revs.

The 2.2-litre diesel with 150 horsepower is a better option, because it’s stronger throughout the whole rev range. It’s smooth and quiet, too, which helps give the car a relaxed nature on the move.

If you can afford the more powerful 184 horsepower version of the diesel engine, it will be money well spent. It’s very eager, and almost as economical as the lower powered diesel engine. This engine is only available with all-wheel-drive, whereas the other engines only come with two-wheel drive.

As standard, the CX-5 comes with a six-speed manual gearbox that has a precise, sporty feel to it. There is also an optional six-speed automatic gearbox, which is smooth and doesn’t have any trouble finding the right gear.