The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favourite family cars, whether you go for the earlier model that we’re focussing on here, or the later model that was introduced in 2017. A spacious SUV that’s nonetheless easy to drive while being compact enough to feel wieldy around town, it’s affordable to buy, practical to live with and good value. It may not have made it to the top of our reliability selection for family SUVs, but it wasn’t far off.

The evolving Mazda CX-5

It was first sold in 2012, when it was offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine or a 2.2-litre diesel in 148 and 173bhp power outputs. 

At launch, there were SE-L and Sport trim levels, with an SE-L Lux introduced in October 2013 that included a standard sunroof and leather trim.

We’d recommend going even later if you can, as from early 2014 there were improvements to ride quality and sound insulation, while a full facelift followed in 2015 and increased standard equipment, improved the interior finish and upgraded the size of the central infotainment display to seven inches.

Checking under the hood of the Mazda CX-5

We’d definitely recommend going for the diesel – the lower-powered version is more than punchy enough, but both power outputs are good on economy and will easily return over 40mpg. The diesel was also available with a four-wheel drive and automatic gearbox, while the petrol was front-wheel drive and manual only. Bear in mind that the auto will return worse economy, so you are paying for the convenience of two-pedal driving. 

Spec and tech

All of the CX-5 models get alloys, climate control and parking sensors, while the more expensive Sport models get a reversing camera and leather upholstery, although that can wear more noticeably than the upholstery in SE-L. Go for a ‘Nav’ model and, as you’d expect it gets nav as well. We wouldn’t worry too much about that as the nav software on older CX-5’s will feel dated now, as will the small 5.7-inch screen it had in pre-2015 cars. You’ll find the nav apps on your phone easier to use. 

The CX-5 has a great reliability record, and there are no recalls. Apparently, there can be issues with the Bluetooth phone-pairing system that was included on every model, and it can refuse to pair with any phone – so check that before you buy. Otherwise, it’s been reported that diesel can leak into the engine oil in rare cases, which is an expensive fix.

Our verdict on the Mazda CX-5

but by the standards of any car the Mazda is as solid as it gets. It even gets a timing chain rather than a belt, which will last for the lifetime of the car, although it’s still recommended that you service the car every year or 12,000 miles. 

Overall, the CX-5 is a great execution of the family SUV that is as recommendable used, as it is new. If you want the high-riding, indomitable feel of a chunky 4×4 without big running costs – whether it’s for the school run or for peace of mind on awkward rural roads – this is a great choice.

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