• 2.5-litre petrol brings notable performance gains over 2.0L; excellent steering and handling; good ride comfort; good cabin space and clever seat-folding set-up
  • No FWD 2.5L variant; relatively small boot; no capped-price servicing; no rear air vents

8 / 10

Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
by Jez Spinks

The numbers indicate the Mazda CX-5 would have been Australia’s most popular SUV in 2012 if it had been available for the full year.

Since arriving as the replacement for the relatively short-lived CX-7 in February 2012, the Mazda CX-5 has been a formidable seller for the Japanese brand.

For 2013, the CX-5 line-up is strengthened with the addition of a new 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine borrowed from the all-new Mazda 6 medium car with which it shares other components.

Until now, the Mazda CX-5 has been at its most convincing in diesel form with the more affordable versions let down by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol that felt underpowered. It was compounded by a dithering six-speed auto that struggled to deal with the 2.0-litre’s lack of torque.

Mazda has responded by adjusting the mapping of both engine and gearbox, lifting the rev ceiling from 6500rpm to 6800rpm and raising power and torque marginally to 114kW (up 1kW) and 200Nm (up 2kW). The change quickens the 2.0-litre model’s accelerative performance by four-tenths of a second to 9.1 seconds, the company says.

Only the new Mazda CX-5 2.5 petrol was available to test on launch, so a test of the revised 2.0-litre that is replaced by the 2.5 in AWD variants but continues in front-wheel-drive models will come later.

Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review

Comparing the newer, more powerful 2.5L with the previous 2.0L, however, there is the desired improvement in performance.

At first, the difference isn’t a night-and-day case. At lower revs, your right foot still has to push through some initial resistance from the throttle pedal that’s not so evident in the lighter Mazda 6.

From there, and in situations where drivers typically require more urge, the 2.5-litre presses home its extra 22 per cent of power and extra 26 per cent of torque over the old 2.0L.

Whether overtaking or encountering steep hills, the Mazda CX-5 2.5 delivers sufficient grunt for the occasion where the 2.0-litre would be left floundering. The six-speed auto is certainly happier, now able to hold gears rather than change up only to change down again a moment later.

There’s also that familiar smoothness and satisfying engine note experienced in the 2.5L Mazda 6 as you rev the engine out.

Mazda doesn’t provide any in-gear acceleration figures for the CX-5, though from rest to 100km/h the 2.5 petrol is a full second quicker (8.5 seconds) than the original 2.0-litre.

For those who prefer the driveability and fuel consumption of diesel power, the 129kW/420Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel CX-5 is still the quickest, at 0-100km/h in 8.0 seconds, and most efficient, rated at 5.7 litres per 100km.

Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review
Mazda CX-5 Review

The 2.5-litre officially uses 7.4L/100km – half a litre more petrol than the old AWD 2.0-litre and a full litre of petrol compared with the front-drive 2.0-litre that continues.

During our launch drive in and around Brisbane, with mixed roads, the trip computer of the two 2.5L models we tested ranged from 8.5 to 9.5L/100km.

The bigger engine can still run on regular unleaded, while another bonus is that the cost premium in the switch from 2.0L AWD CX-5 to 2.5L AWD is just $500 – with the 2.5-litre range starting from $32,880 before on-road costs are added.

You can read our separate story for a more complete guide to the pricing and specifications for the 2013 Mazda CX-5 range.

That range now includes a top-tier model called Akera that is a variant incorporating a Tech pack that was previously optional on the Grand Touring.

The pack includes blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and headlights that can automatically switch between main and high beam.

A couple of interior technology updates across the line-up include a new Bluetooth mail function that allows SMS, MMS and email to be displayed on the CX-5’s 5.8-inch touchscreen and for messages to be read out by an automated voice.

Occupants can also use their own voice to call up to 1000 phone contacts.

Mazda CX-5 Review

Otherwise the Mazda CX-5 cabin continues as the one we’ve previously praised for its well judged blend of quality materials and stylish design.

The perception of quality compares favourably with the interior of a BMW X1.

It continues to miss out, though, on the rotary dial menu controller that gives the similarly designed Mazda 6 interior an extra touch of sophistication. Perhaps understandably, Mazda believed cupholders in the centre console were more important for the more practical-minded SUV buyer.

And the Mazda CX-5 is practical. Roomier inside than the old CX-7 despite more compact external dimensions, there’s a decent amount of space for heads and knees in the back seat.

Items big and small are accommodated comfortably by various storage options.

Boot space of 403 litres is on the small side by segment standards, though. The new RAV4, for example, offers 506 litres with an optional full-size spare wheel or 577 with the standard space saver.

The Mazda CX-5 features a near-full-size spare wheel but even the Mazda 3’s boot (430 litres) is larger due to its greater depth.

The CX-5 will still swallow prams comfortably, and the Mazda’s rear seats fold completely flat to create a total of 1560 litres.

How those seats fold is also smart. The rear sides of the CX-5’s boot feature automatic release levers – the left side with a small one that automatically releases the middle seatback and a larger one for the left seatback.

They have to be pushed to go all the way down but the rear seat pews tilt forward to allow that fully flat set-up not found in every rival SUV.

That’s also the case with dynamic qualities, an area where the Mazda CX-5 shines.

Buyers should appreciate the accurate and nicely weighted steering whether they’re keen motorists or not.

It complements a vehicle that has clearly been engineered to be enjoyed on roads that twist and turn, and one that provides immense stability and confidence through its competent all-wheel-drive system and grippy tyres even in monsoonal conditions – as we experienced during the Brisbane launch.

The trade-off is a ride that is firmer compared with some competitors, though the CX-5’s suspension is adept at deflecting surface nasties away from the cabin. The Mazda is at its most comfortable on 17-inch wheels, and gets a touch fussier on 19s.

Mazda Australia is yet to follow the trend towards capped-price servicing but continues to do consumers a service by making metallic paint inclusive where it typically costs extra.

Pricing remains imperfect for buyers, though. While the new 2.5-litre starts only $500 higher than the previous 2.0L AWD, the new engine isn’t available in the more affordable front-drive models.

And there’s still no Maxx variant of the diesel, meaning the excellent 2.2-litre is out of reach if the budget doesn’t stretch beyond $40,000 when on-road costs are included.

We’ll have to wait for that test of the revised 2.0-litre petrol to see if it’s no longer such a weak link in the line-up, but the new 2.5-litre four-cylinder ensures the Mazda CX-5 now comes with a good recommendation in petrol as well as diesel form.

2013 Mazda CX-5 range

Mazda CX-5 2.0 Maxx FWD (man) $27,880*
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Maxx FWD (auto) $29,880*
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Maxx Sport FWD $33,620*

Mazda CX-5 2.5 Maxx AWD $32,880*
Mazda CX-5 2.5 Maxx Sport AWD $36,620*
Mazda CX-5 2.5 Grand Touring AWD $43,780*
Mazda CX-5 2.5 Akera AWD $45,770*

Mazda CX-5 2.2D Maxx Sport AWD $39,470*
Mazda CX-5 2.2D Grand Touring AWD $46,630*
Mazda CX-5 2.2D Akera AWD $48,620*

*Before on-road costs

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Mazda CX-5 Review
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  • Zaccy16

    Normal mazda brilliance, normal great steering and handling, now with power as a petrol engine and also a sporty exhaust note, practical and more fuel efficient, great compact suv and great value, quality interior as well

    • Are you kidding me? have you ever driven an euro before?

      • Zaccy16

        I have actually because I own one!!!

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/FFLU42DZJ4E23NZKHN3UXJU44Q Aazz

          Did you buy the overpriced 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol model that ‘felt underpowered and was compounded by a dithering six-speed auto that struggled to deal with the 2.0-litre’s lack of torque’?

      • Mickeymouse

        you’ve obviously never driven a euro back to back with a 6, or you’d know how boring and torqueless the mazda makes the Honda feel.

        BTW this article was about CX5s
        and you still couldn’t compare the CRV unless you like boring cars….

        • Hehe

          CX5 is even more boring to drive. No, it is not only boring. It is painful to drive. Yes the chassis and suspension is great, but they mean turd when the engine is gutless. You know? the engine? the blockie thing that sits under the bonnet? On the contrary, the CRV 2.4 is a great day to day drive. The engine is responsive and loves the red line.The CX5 to me is an over rated product relied upon heavy marketing (yes that includes those glorious reviews

    • Rocket

      Not a bad little bus for the missus to take the kids to school in, do the shopping and then take the kids to soccer practice.

    • Sam

      If it were called a Holden Captiva would you say the same thing? 

      • Zaccy16

        No because the craptiva is a POS

        • Pro346

          Just don’t mention the pos diesel in the Mazda……

          • Amlohac

            How is the Diesel in the mazda a POS exactly? Oh and you cant mention the oil dilution issues as thus has since been resolved.

        • Amlohac

          Poor craptiva. I guess if you were heavilly focused on budget it would be a great buy.

        • Sam

          And despite that its the top selling suv as of recent sales reports? Has craptiva become catchtiva?? Lmao

          • Zaccy16

            the reason that the craptiva is selling well because people think if it has a holden badge it must be australian, but in reality if they put the correct chevy or daewoo badge it would be a different story

          • Sam

            No they have no idea or even care where it’s made.

    • Bigdog

      With no room in the back seat unless your a midget.

  • Brissy-Dan

    Shame they couldn’t have put some rear air vents in there.

    • Able

      Or a manual diesel.

      • Hehe

        or a decent engine

  • Galaxy

    hate the aftermarket sound system look that seems to make it’s way in Japanese cars of late.

  • Who is going to pay over $40,000 for a CX-5?? Seriously, do they even come with day time running light’s, AKA LEDs???

    If not, that will be added to the midlife facelift, you cannot see that coming.

    • Fgh

       I dont understand why anyone would want to pay that much, but why on earth are day time running lights so important to you? I couldn’t car less about day time running lights. Besides, conventional lights are perfectly capable of operation during the daytime.

    • TG

      Ummm, no, forget the AKA bit. Not all DRLs are LED. The CX-5 GT and Akera utilise incandescent type DRLs.

  • Mazdas with fog-lights..,, OMG! So yesterday and looks very cheap.

  • Al Wal

    It’s a pity you can’t get the significantly lighter FWD model with this engine and a manual transmission – that combo would be great!

    • Kampfer

      What wrong with Mazda3 SP25?

      • matt

        its not this engine yet, thats whats wrong

  • KiddingMe

    Personally, I think the CRV and the new RAV4 are a better looking vehicle than the CX5, inside and out.

    The interior is just very… bland.

    • Estiff

      Kidding me, for once someone agrees with me. Cx5 boring, boring on all accounts.

      • Sumpguard

          I think all 3 are awful.

  • maz convert

    have had a CX5 diesel for 10 months now and it is just awesome. We are toyota fans but this really is a hard act to beat. You really can’t comment until you’ve it..then you’ll understand. Justifiably was COY in NZ.

  • Bob

    I would like to know the sale figures for the sector, for if this would have been the highest selling – given it had been available all year – then I must wonder as I am on the roads everyday and I have only every seen 2 in the past 6 months or so in Brisbane. Doesnt suggest a high selling car to me. Granted, I am not in all places at all times, yet you get a feel sales of a cr if you see them, and this I havent seen. P.S. I did test drive one about 3 weeks back – ohhh, yuck! It would be the last car in the Mazda range I would buy – and given we have owned a 323, 3, MX-5 and 6 and our business partner has a CX-7 then we tend to like Mazda’s.

  • Theo

    I’m shellshocked that these can cost about 50K!. This is further proof of how Australians are ripped off. And these prices are transmitted faithfully by these journalists to the readers with a “straight face”. It’s a scandal.

  • F1orce

    I’m warming up to this..

    At first I didn’t like it, but it drives pretty good.

  • TS

    This was looking like a small family friendly upgrade from my mazda3 SP25 But the servicing costs(from Mazda) for the SP25 have left a sour taste in my mouth, $350 for 10k/20k/30k and $600 for a 40k service so far. I would rather pay slightly more in base price then feel like I’m being bent over every time i have a service. I will certainly be looking at other options

    • KiddingMe

      I get my SP25 done at City Mazda in Melbourne for $280 for a minor and $600 for a major.

      • TS

        My services were performed in western Sydney. Looking at forums it seems common for Sydney, some a little lower or higher depending on location.

      • mmmm

        shop around more I’ve never paid that much, never had a major service over $500

  • Bob222

    The servicing costs seem pretty high. I was quoted today at the dealership a $350 service required every 6 months (for the diesel version). That’s double the Tiguan’s servicing costs and double the estimate for the new RAV diesel (also based on info provided by the dealership).

  • Iggy

    I no longer service my car at Mazda, 360 x 2 per year…a lot for 2 hours of Labour + parts. NRMA is my choice now, for 3 reasons , very good service, very good price $189 and most important thing its next door to my work. Does anyone know if the software/ECU mapping update on the new CX-5 is applicable to the previous cx-5?

  • A.

    But Mazda doesn’t offer capped price servicing, that’s really big no-no to me. Hyundai SantaFe(diesel), Nissan Dualis(which seems always on 0~1% finance) or even Ford Territory is a good option. I mean you can buy Mazda, if you like, but then again VW Tiguan is a far better car and it’s only slightly(few hundreds) expensive.

    • Gdfs

      ‘Far better’ car? A quick Google reveals that the first few comparison reviews that come up (from Drive, Carsguide and The Motor Report) have put the CX-5 ahead of the Tiguan.

      • Hehe

        that’s because of marketing

    • BenHaynes

      Mazda offers its “Recommended Maintenance Service Price” for vehicles.
      For a CX5 Diesel Auto in NSW, the RMSP for minor is $307, mid is $373 and major is $565. Servicing every 6mths/10000km following pattern of minor, mid, minor, major.
      My first minor service was a very competitive $262 from Blue Mtns Mazda. Thanks Guys.

  • Dl9898

    Was there leather interior with the top spec?

    • KiddingMe

       It’s Maztex.

  • Ben Haynes

    The reviewer may be dyslexic quoting the Mazda 3 boot space as greater than the CX5.
    Current Mazda 3 has 340L boot (not 430L) which will drop to 308L with the new Maz3.
    The CX5 has an entirely adequate 400+ litres, flexible and flat folding rear seats.

Mazda CX-5 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$26,620 - $30,250
Dealer Retail
$27,660 - $32,890
Dealer Trade
$20,900 - $24,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
250Nm @  4000rpm
Max. Power
138kW @  5700rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1800  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/65 R17
Rear Tyres
225/65 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Reversing Camera, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Front Floor
Country of Origin