The CX-5 is Mazda’s most popular vehicle and is one of the best sellers in the small crossover segment. It hasn’t seen significant change since 2017, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a winner in many popularity contests. Including the one that matters most: the consumer market.
The 2023 Mazda CX-5 has a lot going for it. Like most Mazda vehicles, it’s an engaging drive with just the right amount of feedback to keep the driver interested. It looks good and has a very well-done interior. And it’s comfortable and quiet on the road.
Probably the greatest complaint we can give for the CX-5 is that its CX-50 counterpart, which is geared towards more “adventure” use with a more rugged look and higher ground clearance, muddies the water. Consumers are going to have a rough time truly telling these two apart and that means Mazda needs to work on some marketing to differentiate. If history is a guide, though, marketing isn’t Mazda’s strong suit.
That is our only concern, though. Everything about the 2023 CX-5 is well-done.
Driving the 2023 Mazda CX-5, we found it comfortable and well balanced. Steering is predictable, engine output is smooth, and it handled daily driving without any problems. The cargo space is just about right sized for the size of this Mazda and the CX-5 has large enough rear seating that someone over six feet will find it comfortable enough for short trips.
There are a lot of trim level to choose from (eight in all), but those can be distilled into five basic choices. The base model is nice, but honestly nobody buys base models. So the real start to the CX-5 is with the next step up. The Carbon Edition is all about the cool blackout look, but only a few people are into that. And the top end models are either turbocharged or they aren’t. They’re otherwise largely the same.
Whatever package is chosen, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is a great choice, we think. Our recommendation is to start shopping with the S Select (about $30,000 plus delivery) and then jump to the Premium options (about $35,000) if that lower end model doesn’t have the equipment you’d like. That is assuming that the engine choice isn’t your prime motivator.
The turbocharged upgrade sounds great and drives really well, but the base engine isn’t bad either. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder offers 187 horsepower by default and is what propels most of the trim levels for the CX-5. It offers power at fairly low RPM and is smooth about delivering it. The turbo bumps HP to 227, which is not insignificant. If you feed it premium fuel, though, it will push out a much more respectable 256 hp.
Both engines run to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The six-speed is a little surprising, given that most have moved on to more gearing, but the Mazda CX-5 in this second-generation has been around for six years and thus pre-dates the push towards more gears. The good news is that it hasn’t adopted a CVT, the bane of many vehicles in this class.
To be frank, though, the CX-5 doesn’t really need all that power. Odd to say, we agree, but the reality is that the standard 2.5L engine puts out plenty for this car. And the Mazda CX-5 is not, for all its goodness, a sports car. We see little reason to spend the extra money to get the turbocharged engine in a vehicle like this. It’s perfectly fine and still fun to drive without having that.
The 2023 Mazda CX-5 comes loaded with advanced safety systems, adaptive cruise control, and a 40/20/40 split-fold rear seat as standard equipment. Plus a three-year trial period to Mazda Connected Services, a kind of personal assistant for your car with a free app to coincide with it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included as standard.
In all, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is a great choice in the small crossover segment. It comes standard with AWD, has a good-looking interior, and it has a plethora of standard features without breaking the bank. There’s a reason this Mazda keeps winning popularity contests.
This review first appeared on DriveModeShow.com.