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2021 Mazda CX-5 Review

Powerful & Sporty Crossover SUV

Price From $25,370- To $37,505

Source: www.mazdausa.com

by | Oct 28, 2021


The Mazda CX-5 has been the go-to compact crossover SUV for many buyers since its launch in 2012. It is one of the most popular cars in the Mazda lineup, selling almost 150,000 units each year. The CX-5 received its last major update in 2017, and for 2021, the changes are mostly incremental.

From the outside, the CX-5 has not received many updates, and it remains true to Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language. It still looks sleek and sporty with the sculpted body lines and smooth curves. It is an exciting car to drive with a punchy engine and impressive driving dynamics, which makes it stand out from the crowd.

The interior feels premium and upmarket
The turbocharged engine is powerful and sporty
Best-in-class handling
Legroom is a bit on the lower side
Cargo space is below average for the segment
Base models do not get rear AC vents

Performance, Engine, and Comfort


The turbocharged engine is fun to drive, and the car handles great. It is certainly not the most comfortable car in the segment, but it does not disappoint.

Engine & Performance


The 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engines in the base models feel slightly underpowered in certain situations. Mazda has nailed the throttle response of the engine, so it feels more powerful than it is, especially in the lower end of the powerband. But when you are trying to overtake at high speeds, the engine feels a bit out of breath at high RPMs.

The turbocharged engine, on the other hand, has plenty of power. Even though the transmission shifts way before the redline in normal mode, switch it into sport mode, and it holds every gear a little bit longer, reducing the turbo lag. The mid-range power is surprisingly good. The transmission is smooth and compliments the engines nicely.

Engine and gear

The 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four engine in the base models produces 187 hp @6000 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque @4000 rpm. The 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four engine produces 250 hp @5000 rpm and 320 lb-ft of torque @2500 rpm with premium 93 Octane fuel. If you feed the regular 87 Octane fuel, it produces 227 hp @5000 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque @2000 rpm.

Both of the engines belong to the SKYACTIV-G family of engines. These engines are paired to a SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed transmission. This transmission also has a manual mode in which the gears can be shifted using the paddles behind the steering wheel.


The CX-5 has a four-wheel independent suspension. It is equipped with a MacPherson strut with a stabilizer bar at the front and a Multi Link suspension with a stabilizer bar at the rear.

The suspension is a bit stiff compared to most other cars in this segment. But that is one of the factors that contribute to the sporty nature of the CX-5. And the stiffer suspension does not automatically mean less comfortable. The ride is still very comfortable, and the suspension does a laudable job of soaking up the bumps and potholes.


Handling is where the CX-5 trumps over all the other cars in the segment. The stiffer suspension combined with the perfectly tuned chassis provides for stirring handling and driving dynamics. 

The steering is also light and responsive, so slow-speed maneuvering should not be a problem. But at the same time, it feels adequately weighted at higher speeds and provides decent feedback. The CX-5 is one of those cars which will inspire you to hit a curvy road once in a while.


Vibration and noise levels are what you would expect from a car in this price range. The cabin insulation is top-notch, and so is the quality of the materials used in the interior, so the cabin is quiet and comfortable even at higher speeds.


The ride is comfortable, and the drivetrain is highly refined. The car feels planted through corners which inspires confidence to push it further.

Safety & Reliability


The CX-5 is one of the safest cars out there, with exceptional crash safety ratings and a plethora of advanced safety tech offered as a standard.

In the test conducted by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), it earned five out of five stars for the frontal and side-impact tests and four stars for the rollover test.

The vehicle has received the highest rating of ‘Good’ in all crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It got a ‘Good’ rating for headlight illumination for all trims except Touring, which got the second-highest rating of ‘Acceptable’.It has a quality & reliability score of 81/100, which is praiseworthy.


The CX-5 is offered with disc brakes at all four corners ABS, EBD, and Brake Assist as standard across all trims. The brake pedal is light and progressive, and the brakes offer decent stopping power.


Dual front airbags, front side impact airbags, and side-impact air curtains are offered as standard across all trims.


Some of the most notable features are:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning and automatic braking
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Automatic high beam headlights


LED headlights and DRL are offered for the base trims. The top trims get adaptive signature LED headlights with auto-leveling and a small LED fog light towards the bottom of the bumper. The top trims also get LED combination tail lights.

Traction control

All trims have Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control as standard. An optional all-wheel-drive layout is also available across the trims.

Fuel Economy


The fuel economy is pretty average irrespective of the engine and drivetrain layout. Both of the engines are quite efficient, considering their decent power output.

Engine size and Towing

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is available with either a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine or a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It can tow about 2000 lbs.

Gas per mileage consumption

The naturally aspirated engine can achieve a fuel economy of 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged engine can return a fuel efficiency of 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. These numbers are only for the FWD layout. In the AWD layout, 1 mpg is lost from the economy.



The interior looks sophisticated but still elegant. All the materials used are high-quality, and the fit and finish are top-notch. The cabin feels a bit cramped compared to rivals, but it is still very comfortable.

Driving seat

The driving seat is 8-way power-adjustable and comes with two driver profiles. The seat is very comfortable with adequate bolstering, which provides decent lumbar and under-thigh support. The seat upholstered in Nappa leather has heating and cooling functions.


All of the surfaces on the dashboard, as well as the door panels are covered in soft-touch materials. The AC vents have an aluminum insert around them, and similar aluminum inserts can be found in several spots, such as the door handle. The all-new 10.25-inch infotainment is placed above the AC vents, and weirdly enough, it is not a touch screen. You control it with the rotary knob that sits in front of the gear shifter. Below the vents, there are the controls for the dual-zone climate control system. You get a 12V socket there and 2 USB Type-A ports inside the armrest. 

The instrument cluster has a 7-inch digital screen in the center with analog gauges on the left for the tachometer and on the right for an oil temperature gauge and a fuel gauge. The central digital screen can display a wide range of information, and it offers a lot of customizability.

Passenger seats and extras

The front passenger seats are very comfortable, and it offers a decent amount of bolstering. Lumbar and under-thigh support is not bad, and it has six-way power adjustability. The rear passenger seats also offer a limited amount of recline.

The front passenger seat is both heated and cooled, but the rear seats only get the heating function. The rear seat temperature is controlled with the buttons inside the central armrest along with two USB ports. Mazda does not offer AC vents for the rear passengers in the base trims. It should have been standard but the cooling is not significantly affected.

Overall height and space

The CX-5 is 179.1-inch long, 72.5-inch wide, 65.4-inch tall, and has a wheelbase of 106.2-inches. It has a ground clearance of 7.5-inches. The cabin is a bit cramped, and legroom might not be sufficient if you are a tall person. There is a generous amount of headroom in both rows.

Trunk space

With the rear seat up, it has a volume of 30.9 cu-ft and 59.6 cu-ft with the seats down. These numbers are not particularly impressive, and the low cargo space has been one of the major gripes about the CX-5.

Price and Extras


The 2021 Mazda CX-5 starts at $25,370. There are seven variants at different price points with different features.

Market Price

Sport $25,370
Touring $27,110
Carbon Edition $28,955
Carbon Edition Turbo $30,760
Grand Touring $30,560
Grand Touring Reserve $35,385
Signature $37,505


All variants except the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature are equipped with Front-wheel drive (FWD) as standard. AWD is an optional extra which can be equipped for $1400.


Mazda offers a limited warranty with coverage of three years or 36,000 miles. Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles and there is no complimentary scheduled maintenance.


The CX-5 is one of the best crossovers in the current market, and it has found a spot in almost all top 10 recommendation lists. It is a sporty SUV that is exciting to drive, and it offers immense practicality as well. It has very high safety scores and good reliability. The Honda CR-V is the most important rival. It offers a bit more space and comfort but lacks the character of the CX-5. Choose based on your priorities as you can’t go wrong either way.