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Car Advice
By Tegan Lawson
Quick Specs
$49,000 before on-road costs
Three-year/unlimited kilometre
See the full specs Read the full review
By Tegan Lawson

So, where did you go on your date?

I had family visiting so a jaunt around the city with a pit stop for lunch was the order of the day. The Mazda CX-5 Akera fitted in with our plans perfectly, offering plenty of space and comfort.

The outing also provided the chance to test the parking prowess of the diesel CX-5, as well as its many standard safety features such as a rear-view camera, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.

Ideal first date?

The beauty of being an SUV is that it's at home pretty much anywhere. Its high driving position makes navigating multi-lane city traffic that little bit easier and there's no good reason to baulk at the thought of a road trip or weekend away thanks to the level of comfort, its size, and the amount of space in the cabin and boot.

As for an ideal first date, I'd say pick your poison. The CX-5 is up for anything.

Hot or not?

After spending a day with the CX-5 Akera I'm leaning towards hot. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and while I don't think it's the best looking SUV in its class, there's a lot going for it.

When it comes to the exterior, the 2015 facelift is fairly minor but the new 19-inch alloy wheels look the part, and the grille has been tweaked, as have the headlights. It's a nice, family-friendly looking car with just a touch of attitude. Almost hot...

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

The CX-5 is not Australia's best selling SUV for nothing. The interior is spacious, well laid out, comfortable and practical - everything you want in a family car.

There's a new electronic parking brake freeing up space between the driver and front passenger and the Akera has Mazda's Commander rotary dial controller and the MZD Connect seven-inch touchscreen - the latter being a big step forward from the previous model's smaller, lower-resolution screen.

Standout features?

The boot! I know it sounds boring but the way it all works together is actually really handy for day-to-day use.

The Akera gets 40:20:40 folding rear seats offering a centre opening bigger than your typical ski port, plus there are release handles in the boot for all three sections making it incredibly easy to configure. Rather than a parcel shelf there is a cargo cover with an auto-retract mechanism. The only issue with it is that it fastens to the boot, and for those who aren't so tall it would be hard to reach up to reconnect it.

Annoying habits?

I found the rear-view camera hard to get used to. Instead of making me feel confident about where the rear corners of the car are, the camera seemed to make it harder to gauge. The satellite navigation system too didn't handle parts of the city well: according to the screen I spent a bit of time driving through buildings. The signal must get interrupted by the skyscrapers...

The lane-keep assist system gave me a bit of a shock, applying torque to the steering wheel when it thought I was straying. It feels a bit like that gentle jolt through a fishing pole when a fish is biting the bait on the end of your line.

The biggest grievance I have is that there are no rear air vents - for cars designed for families this is a major faux pas.

Ready for a family?

Absolutely, if you can live without rear air vents.

The CX-5 line-up is fairly well kitted out, even the base model Maxx coming with cruise control, push-button start and a reverse-view camera.

Boot space is decent, although not class-leading, but it's not fiddly to configure and its almost flat from the loading lip - just a small drop.

High maintenance?

Mazda offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty but servicing is recommended every 10,000km under the lifetime Service Select program.

You could end up having to book the CX-5 in every nine-months for a check up rather than every 15,000km or 12-months like some of its competitors.

Diesel models are more expensive to service, but the claimed fuel consumption is a sigh of relief-worthy 5.7L/100km.

Any deal-breakers?

Though I like the look of the fuel consumption figures, I don't like how Mazda's 2.2-litre diesel engine sounds. It didn't bother my passengers but I found it a little whiny. Where I'd usually prefer diesel over petrol in many of the CX-5's competitors, in this case, I'd think twice about going with the diesel.

Rear-visibility is frustrating with large C-pillars, small rear quarter-windows and not a lot of height in the rear windscreen. You can get around it using the rear-view camera, mirrors and moving your head around like a cockatoo.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

The CX-5 is a fantastic option if you want a car that ticks most of the boxes. It looks nice, the interior is well thought out and comfortable, it has most of what you need and would fit almost any lifestyle.

But is it exciting enough? I suspect I'd likely end-up getting bored and wanting to trade it in within a year or two.

Keeping your options open?

The CX-5 performed strongly in January, according to VFACTS it was both the highest selling medium SUV and SUV overall, snaring eighth position on the Top 10 best-selling vehicles.

It's closest competitors in its segment are the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester and Nissan X-Trail.

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

The CX-5 would be well suited to a family with two or three small children.

Its height makes it easy to get kids in and out of, it's relatively inexpensive to run and it has all the basics, plus a few bonus bells and whistles.