Not only does the 2023 Mazda CX-5 deliver on the brand’s reputation for athletic handling, it also offers a near-luxury experience for mainstream money. It’s this particular blend of nimble road manners and interior refinement that makes the CX-5 one of our favorite small SUVs, especially higher-end models that come with the optional 256-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The entry-level engine is a pokier 187-hp four, but all-wheel drive is standard on all models—as is the CX-5’s lithe handling, which will satisfy regardless of your choice of engine. The CX-5 isn’t perfect—although, that depends on who you ask—as it’s not as spacious as rivals such as the Honda CR-V or the Toyota RAV4. Few compact SUVs can match the Mazda’s panache, though, and in a segment full of pragmatic options the CX-5’s charms are alluring.
What’s New for 2023?
The CX-5 is joined by the similarly-sized CX-50 in the lineup this year creating a sibling rivalry within the same showroom, but Mazda says it plans on selling both models for the time being. The 2023 CX-5 is largely unchanged from last year, but gains a new optional Rhodium White paint color.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the Turbo trim best exemplifies the CX-5. With the upgraded 256-hp turbocharged engine, its quickness better corresponds with its athletic handling. Its exterior is elegantly sporty with trim-specific gloss-black accents. Its interior mirrors that sportiness with red accents and stitching.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The CX-5’s standard 187-hp four-cylinder engine has great throttle response when pulling away from stoplights or hustling around town, so it feels quicker than it actually is. It’s at higher speeds, such as when trying to pass or merge onto the freeway, that it feels underpowered. The 256-hp turbocharged version we tested provided much quicker acceleration. Both engines pair with a snappy six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. You don’t need to drive the CX-5 hard to enjoy it or to appreciate its excellence. Sure, its precise steering and composed cornering make for one helluva Sunday cruise. But it also soaks up rough roads without commotion and has the ride quality of crossovers that cost twice as much. This harmonious interplay of dynamics is unrivaled by its competitors. Pavement imperfections are isolated, road noise is minimal, and the damping is neither stiff nor floaty. At the same time, the Mazda comes alive on curvy roads. The electrically assisted steering provides satisfying responses. The Signature model we tested had a reassuring brake-pedal feel that operated without delay and without being too touchy when you apply the brakes.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With two engine options, the CX-5 has two fuel-economy ratings. The base 2.5-liter engine is rated at 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The more powerful turbocharged engine is rated at 22 mpg city and 27 highway. We’ve tested both on our 75-mph highway route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and the standard engine returned 32 mpg compared with the turbo four’s 30 mpg result. For more information about the CX-5’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Wake up inside the top-tier CX-5 models and you might think you’ve been abducted by kidnappers driving an Audi or
a Mercedes. First-rate materials and a fabulous layout make it feel especially upscale. The floor-hinged accelerator pedal feels better than the more common version that is suspended above the floor, the well-crafted steering wheel is directly in front of the driver and not offset at a slight angle, and all of the front-seat armrests are at the same height for optimal comfort. Sacrifices come in small packages: in this case, the CX-5 held just nine carry-on suitcases behind its rear seats in our testing. The storage bay does benefit from a completely flat load floor. There are also several nooks and crannies in the cabin to store smartphones and other small items. For instance, the center console has a deep tray at the front and a useful bin with a removable shelf.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every model boasts a 10.3-inch infotainment display that’s primarily manipulated through a rotary controller and volume knob on the center console. The interface also operates through voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board. The CX-5 comes with Mazda Connected Services that includes access to remote vehicle functions via a smartphone app and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The CX-5 comes standard with a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology and some other optional assists. For more information about the CX-5’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia and Hyundai both offer better warranty coverage than Mazda, and some other automakers that play in this segment offer complimentary maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2022 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Turbo Signature
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $40,225/$40,745
Options: Snowflake White Pearl paint, $395; rear bumper guard, $125
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 152 in3, 2488 cm3
Power: 256 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.6-in vented disc/11.9-in disc
Tires: Toyo A36
P225/55R-19 99Z M+S
Wheelbase: 106.2 in
Length: 180.1 in
Width: 72.6 in
Height: 66.3 in
Passenger Volume: 104 ft3
Cargo Volume: 29-31 ft3
Curb Weight: 3832 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.2 sec
1/4-Mile: 14.9 sec @ 93 mph
100 mph: 17.7 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.6 sec
Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 129 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 185 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.78 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 24 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 24/22/27 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs