New for 2020: To ring in the new model year, Mazda is giving the CX-5 crossover extra torque and less ride. They’re also making the brand’s i-Activsense safety suite standard across the board. It builds on a vehicle that hasn’t sat unchanged for long since being introduced in 2017. Since it came out, Mazda has added a turbocharged engine, a diesel option, redone the infotainment system, and added a top-trim luxury Signature variant. A zoom-zooming stone gathers no moss, we suppose.
Mazda has long been the brand of choice for people who want some more fun in their mainstream vehicles, but now they’re moving up to provide more luxury to go with that sportiness especially in the SUV space with the CX-5.
This year, the extra zoot for the 2.5-liter turbo-four comes in the form of 10 lb-ft extra torque. That’s if you use 93 octane fuel, though. The good fuel also boosts power to 250 hp, though that’s the same as last year. Use 87 and it’ll run just fine, but you’ll get the same 310 lb-ft as last year along with just 227 hp. Still strong figures for the class, though.
Making the 2.5T trim of the Mazda CX-5 more premium is a new system Mazda calls the Engine Harmonics Enhancer. It gives the engine a more refined but more powerful sound. An off-road traction assist feature uses the brakes to act like a limited-slip differential instead of just cutting power when a wheel spins.
Mazda’s i-Activsense active safety suite is now standard across the board, coming with radar cruise control, smart city braking with pedestrian detection and collision warnings, and lane departure warnings. All useful safety kit that’s becoming common across the industry.
Pros/ Powerful engines / Driving dynamics / Mileage
Cons/ Cargo space / Dated infotainment / Suspension stiffness
Bottom Line/ A worthy option for anyone looking for an SUV with Mazda driving dynamics. Have to put up with lack of space though.
Table of contents
Mazda CX-5 Powertrain
Mazda currently offers two engines in the CX-5, though just one gearbox. But we can assume that there will be three, with the now segment-exclusive 2.2-liter diesel and its 290 lb-ft of torque returning. It arrived very late as 2019, and Mazda hasn’t yet mentioned the 2020 model in its press materials, so it might stay as a 2019 model for a bit longer.
The other options are a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four that makes 186 hp with 186 lb-ft of torque and the more fun Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-four with its 250 hp and 320 lb-ft. All get a six-speed automatic, with front-drive available on Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims with the NA motor and AWD on offer across the board.
Mazda CX-5 Features and Pricing
CX-5 Sport: Starts at $25,090
The base front-drive Sport starts from $25,090, with AWD ringing in at $26,490. For that, you get a well-equipped small crossover with 17-inch alloys, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and one-touch up/down on all four windows. Something that is still not common enough in this class for our liking. There’s a 7.0-inch full-color touchscreen display with Mazda Connect software, but you must move up the trims to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
CX-5 Touring: Starts at $26,730
The front-drive Touring squeaks in under $27,000, but an AWD model will run $28,130. That gets you the already mentioned phone connectivity software, but also dual-zone climate control and keyless entry. You also get, heated faux-leather seats up front which come with power adjustment for the driver. There are two more stereo speakers (for a total of six), USB charge ports for the rear, and tinted windows around the back. A $1,375 Preferred Equipment Package adds auto-dimming mirror, 10-speaker Bose audio system, a power tailgate, and a sliding moonroof.
CX-5 Grand Touring: Starts at $30,210
Near the top of the CX-5’s heap, the impressive interior really takes shape. This one has an eight-way power driver’s seat and adds six-way power adjustment for the driver. It has paddle-shifters and a 7.0-inch digital dashboard display as well as that Bose 10-speaker audio system. On the outside, you’ll find 19-inch alloys, adaptive front lights with LED fogs, and there’s a power rear liftgate and sliding glass roof. A $1,625 premium package adds folding mirrors, an active driving display, and heated rear seats and heated steering wheel as well as ventilated front seats.
CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve: Starts at $35,035
GT Reserve adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen audio system display as well as a head-up active driving display. It also comes with the features of the GT’s Premium Package. The 2.5-liter turbo engine and all-wheel drive are standard.
CX-5 Signature: Starts at $37,055
Signature is the top of the CX-5’s trims. It adds real wood trim to the dash and Caturra Brown Nappa leather seating. It adds navigation and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. The leather-wrapped wheel has special stitching and there are LED ambient lights inside. A surround-view camera is added along with traffic sign recognition and parking sensors.
See Also: Mazda CX-5 Diesel Review
Mazda CX-5 Recommended Trim
The Signature trim and its Nappa leather seats and wood dash really show off the impressive job Mazda has done of making this a mainstream model that feels like a luxury car. But with a price that’s much more mainstream. It also gets that 2.5-liter turbo engine that really gets the CX-5 going. Really, it’s hard to recommend the NA motor when you know the turbo is available, but if your budget doesn’t reach that close to $40,000, then the Touring gets the most important tech features, can be had with front-wheel0-drive and saves you a load of cash.
Mazda CX-5 Fuel Economy
While both the turbo and naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter fours offer the same six-speed automatic, there is some gas to be saved with the less powerful engine. Though getting a front-driver instead of all-wheel drive doesn’t make much of a difference, with Mazda estimating you’ll get 25 mpg city, 31 highway in front-drive and 24/30 with the all-wheel-drive version. Get the turbo and you’ll notice the difference with a 22/27 mpg city/highway rating.
Mazda CX-5 vs Toyota RAV4
Toyota’s RAV4 is the 800 lb gorilla of this segment, and that’s not just because it was one of the first. With the latest model, Toyota’s gone for a more rugged look. If you love Toyota’s trucks, the Tacoma and 4Runner, you’ll love the RAV4‘s new sheet metal, though it’s certainly not as sleek as Mazda’s.
Also See: Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road Review
The RAV4’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, splitting the Mazda’s two engines, but Toyota also offers its fuel-sipping champion: The 219 hp RAV4 Hybrid. This one returns a shocking 41 mpg city, 38 highway. While the new RAV4 offers a pleasant interior, one that seems ready to get dirty, it lacks the refinement and the eye-pleasing experience Mazda offers. A loaded up RAV4 is $1,175 cheaper than the CX-5, a bigger gap for the hybrid, but Mazda’s extra features are worth the charge. In lower grades, the CX-5 is actually appreciably less costly, with the base model $950 less than Toyota.
Mazda CX-5 vs Ford Escape
Ford’s latest Escape looks like a revised Porsche crossover, and its bones underpin a Lincoln too. Both excellent places to start. Ford’s base engine is a 181 hp 1.5-liter three-cylinder, with the choice to upgrade to a 250 hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. Both, however, require premium gas but also offer 4 mpg combined better than Mazda’s base and top-spec engine. The Escape also offers a hybrid that can top 40 mpg.
The new Escape is nearly the same size as the CX-5 on the outside, but inside it offers six cubic feet more total cargo space, and seven more if you’re using the back seats. That’s before taking advantage of the Ford’s sliding second-row that lets you trade knee space for cargo room as needed.
Starting price for the Escape of $26,080 puts it right on top of the CX-5, and the two trade places as you move up the trim list.
Mazda CX-5 vs GMC Terrain
GMC’s Terrain, especially in Denali trim, comes closest to the level of interior elegance that Mazda has accomplished with the CX-5. That said, the model goes more for rugged than fun to drive, both inside and out. And for many buyers, that’s a definite plus. The Terrain offers a 170 hp 1.5-liter turbo-four as the base engine and a 252 hp 2.0-liter turbo-four as the uplevel choice. Both get a 9-speed automatic.
A base model front-drive Terrain comes in at just $90 less than the CX-5, though an all-wheel-drive CX-5 will cost you $3,500 less than a Terrain because GMC doesn’t offer that option on the base SL version. GMC does offer the top Denali with front-drive only, though that model still comes in at about $1,300 more than a CX-5 Signature with all-wheel drive.
|Price Range /||$25,090-$37,055|
|Engine /||2.5-liter I4, 2.5-liter turbo I4|
|Power (hp) /||186/227|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||186/320|
|Fuel economy (mpg city/highway/combined) /||25/31/28 24/30/26, 22/27/24|
|Drivetrain/ Transmission /||6AT FWD/AWD|
Our Final Verdict
When it comes to crossovers, Mazdas are near the top when it comes to driving enjoyment. They also look great inside, and for 2020 the CX-5 comes with more driver aids on cheaper models. The base engine offers enough for most drivers, but that turbo is fun to have a go as well. Though it doesn’t offer the best cargo space in the segment, this is a very appealing package all around.