2018 Mazda CX-5 Review
The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is one of our highest-rated compact SUVs, and deservedly so. The CX-5 delivers arguably the most engaging performance in the class and one of the nicest interiors.
Is the Mazda CX-5 a Good SUV?
The Mazda CX-5 is a good SUV. This is one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs out there, thanks to its dynamic handling and sharp steering. It delivers that performance without sacrificing ride quality, and it gets above-average gas mileage. Inside, you get one of the most upscale cabins in the class, as well as two rows of spacious, comfortable seats. In fact, the CX-5's many virtues and strong long-term value make it a finalist for our Best Compact SUV for the Money award.
Should I Buy the Mazda CX-5?
It never hurts to comparison shop, so you might want to check out the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 to see how the CX-5 stacks up against the competition. But the CX-5 brings a lot to the table, and it should be a strong contender for any compact SUV shopper.
We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed
We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.
The Mazda CX-5 was redesigned for the 2017 model year, and there are no major changes for 2018. As a result, this review uses applicable research and data from the 2017 and 2018 model years.
How Much Does the Mazda CX-5 Cost?
The Mazda CX-5 starts at around $24,000. That’s a little above the median price for the class, but many of the less expensive compact SUVs undercut the CX-5’s price by less than $1,500, so it’s not a very big difference. The top CX-5 trim – the Grand Touring – has a starting price closer to $30,000, which is less than the price of many rivals’ top trims.
Mazda CX-5 Versus the Competition
- Which Is Better: Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V? The Honda CR-V is one of the CX-5’s chief rivals for the top spot in the compact SUV class. The CR-V has an appealing combination of space and family-friendly features, and it has more cargo space than the CX-5. Both vehicles have similar price tags, but the CR-V offers features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration (neither of which is available in the CX-5) and more advanced driver assistance features. The CX-5 beats the CR-V in performance, mostly due to the CX-5's agile handling. The CR-V is no slouch in the corners, though, and while its base engine is about as capable as the CX-5's, you can get a more potent turbocharged engine in the CR-V. At the end of the day, though, these are both great choices.
- Which Is Better: Mazda CX-5 or Toyota RAV4? The Toyota RAV4 doesn’t match up to the CX-5 as well as the CR-V does. The Mazda has much stronger performance and a better overall interior than the RAV4. The Toyota’s ride quality is good, but it’s not nearly as fun to drive as the Mazda. The RAV4 has a lower-rent interior overall, but its cargo space is significantly more than the CX-5's and is among the class leaders in this regard. The RAV4 also has more standard driver assistance features. Still, the CX-5 is the better overall vehicle and the better option.
- How Many People Does the CX-5 Seat? The CX-5 seats five, and both rows are spacious. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and even taller adults can fit in the back without complaint. This is still a compact SUV, though, and putting three adults in the back for anything more than a brief trip is probably not going to be a comfortable proposition.
- CX-5 and Car Seats; There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The tether anchors present no issues. The lower anchors are set a bit deep in the seat but are otherwise fine. The doors open wide, making it easy to get car seats in and out.
- CX-5 Interior Quality; This Mazda SUV has a classy cabin that looks and feels nicer than many rivals' interiors. It’s attractive and well-built, and it's quiet even at highway speeds.
- CX-5 Cargo Space; This Mazda has so-so cargo space compared to other compact SUVs. It has about 31 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is enough room for vacation luggage or a couple of large dogs. Fold the rear seats down, and you have nearly 60 cubic feet of space, giving you the freedom to haul larger items.
- CX-5 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation; Standard features include a four-speaker sound system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Available features include a 10-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, navigation, and a moonroof. Unlike many rivals, the CX-5 doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It also has some counterintuitive control mechanisms, so it’ll take practice to master the audio settings.
- CX-5 Engine: A Bit of a Letdown; The CX-5 has only one available engine: a 187-horsepower four-cylinder. It isn’t as exciting as the turbocharged engines offered by some rivals, but it never holds the vehicle back, and it delivers ample power and acceleration for driving around town and on the highway.
- CX-5 Gas Mileage: A Strong Suit; This Mazda gets better fuel economy estimates than many compact SUVs, though it isn’t at the top of the class. It earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. You’ll spend about as much on gas whether you drive the CX-5 or the Honda CR-V. However, the CX-5 will save you about $200 per year compared to the Toyota RAV4.
- CX-5 Ride and Handling: A Class Leader; When it comes to handling, the CX-5 will take the Pepsi challenge against any compact SUV. This Mazda has accurate steering and is one of the most agile SUVs in any class, making it incredibly engaging to drive. Ride quality is decent, but some rivals have more cushioned rides.
- Is the Mazda CX-5 Reliable? The 2018 CX-5 doesn't have a reliability rating yet, but the comparable 2017 model earned a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. That’s an average rating for a new vehicle.
- Mazda CX-5 Warranty; The Mazda CX-5 comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. These are similar to the warranty terms of many other compact SUVs.
- CX-5 Crash Test Results; The 2018 Mazda CX-5 earned a four-out-of-five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick.
- CX-5 Safety Features; Standard driver assistance features in the CX-5 include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking. Available features include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a head-up display with traffic sign recognition.
Which Mazda CX-5 Model Is Right for Me?
There are three CX-5 trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. All three come with a 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. You can add all-wheel drive to any trim for $1,300.
While the Grand Touring trim offers some tasty features, the midlevel Touring trim is a great choice for most buyers. It’s closer to the base trim than the top trim in terms of price, but it has a lot of standard features and offers most of the technology you can get in the top trim.
- Mazda CX-5 Sport; The CX-5 Sport has a base price of $24,150. Standard features include a four-speaker sound system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking. You can add the Sport I-ActiveSense package ($625), which includes lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more.
- Mazda CX-5 Touring; The CX-5 Touring has a starting price of $26,215. In addition to the Sport’s features, the Touring comes with leatherette upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, two additional USB ports, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. The Preferred Equipment package ($1,200) adds a 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, a moonroof, and a power liftgate.
- Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring; The CX-5 Gran Touring’s starting price is $29,645. The Grand Touring comes with a moonroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, and satellite radio. The Premium package ($1,395) adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a head-up display with traffic sign recognition.