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Mazda CX-5 2019 review: Maxx AWD

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Is the Mazda CX-5 Maxx best when paired with the brand's 2.5-litre engine? Peter Anderson thinks so. Here's why...

The bargain-basement CX-5 Maxx is exactly that; a bargain. It's a very well-equipped machine (with a couple of notable exceptions), and you can even get it with a manual transmission, which is nice.

Every time I ever drove one, however, it was fitted with the 2.0-litre engine. And it's a bit of a gasper when it's dragging the CX-5's heft around (even though the Maxx isn't especially heavy).

Even my father, who is almost an octogenarian, found the 2.0-litre engine a bit sub-par for his needs. And he owned a series of Magnas - speed is clearly not something that interests him.

But now I've got the recently upgraded CX-5 Maxx (by recent, I mean May), running the updated 2.5-litre engine with cylinder deactivation that is perched at the top of the three-level Maxx trim.

Mazda CX-5 2019: Maxx (4x2)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$32,880

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Being the top of the Maxx tree, this 2.5 will set you back $33,690. For that, you get a set of dodgy-looking (but perfectly serviceable) 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo, air conditioning, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, a comprehensive safety package, cruise control, LED headlights (that's a solid win), keyless entry and start, a leather wheel and shifter, and space-saver spare.

The CX-5 Maxx gets 17-inch alloy wheels as standard. The CX-5 Maxx gets 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.

Mazda's MZD Connect arrived in the Maxx a couple of updates ago, which is a very welcome thing as it brings pretty decent phone integration (still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though), DAB+ digital radio and the usual Bluetooth and USB. It's controlled by the 7.0-inch touchscreen when stationary or the rotary dial and shortcut buttons when on the move. Sat nav is an option.

As always, Mazda leads the way on paint pricing - out of eight colours, only two will cost you more (the lovely 'Soul Red' and 'Machine Grey') and even then, they're just $300.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The new Mazda CX-5 looks a lot like the old one, just... better. This major model facelift mostly occurred underneath the skin, but put the two side-by-side and the difference is marked.

The Maxx looks a lot better - steel wheels aside - with the slim LED headlights, sharper creasing and even more resolved surfacing. It's in line with the CX-9's sleek look and I think it looks pretty good. The only problem I have is the slightly high-looking rump from certain angles, but you can't please everyone all the time.

  • The slim LED headlights, sharper creasing, and even more resolved surfacing looks great. The slim LED headlights, sharper creasing, and even more resolved surfacing looks great.
  • The only problem I have with the CX-5's looks is the slightly high-looking rump. The only problem I have with the CX-5's looks is the slightly high-looking rump.

The interior update reduced clutter - a common thread across the Mazda range - bringing more calm to an already calm interior. Here in the Maxx, though, it's probably too calm. It's a fairly dark interior, with a lot of grey and not a lot else to break it all up. Having said that, it's better than before and much better than the almost grim interior from the CX-3.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Little has changed over the years, but the CX-5 is still a good package for a young family. The front seats have plenty of space for most heights and offer a good view out of the windows. Storage includes a pair of cupholders up front, plus two in the rear, along with bottle holders in each door, a sizeable central bin and a tray under the dash.

  • It's a fairly dark interior, with a lot of grey and not a lot else to break it all up. It's a fairly dark interior, with a lot of grey and not a lot else to break it all up.
  • Thee is tight legroom for taller folks, but it's not bad at all for people up to six-foot tall. Thee is tight legroom for taller folks, but it's not bad at all for people up to six-foot tall.
  • The boot is still a fairly ordinary 448 litres. The boot is still a fairly ordinary 448 litres.
  • Fold the rear seats down and the space grows to 1342 litres. Fold the rear seats down and the space grows to 1342 litres.
  • The CX-5 comes with a space-saver spare. The CX-5 comes with a space-saver spare.

Rear seat passengers aren't exactly spoilt for space (the winner in this segment is the more expensive Tiguan). Thee is tight legroom for taller folks, but it's not bad at all for people up to six-foot tall.

The boot - probably the only contentious part of the package - was subtly enlarged by six litres in the last update, but is still a fairly ordinary 448 litres with the rear seats up and 1342 litres with them folded flat.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The 2.5-litre, four-cylinder SkyActiv petrol engine develops 140kW and 252Nm. As it's a 2.5-litre CX-5, all-wheel drive is mandatory, as is the six-speed automatic. These numbers compare with the 2.0-litre's 115kW/200Nm.

The updated engine also features cylinder deactivation, which shuts down cylinders while you're cruising to cut fuel use. The updated engine also features cylinder deactivation, which shuts down cylinders while you're cruising to cut fuel use.

The updated engine also features cylinder deactivation, which shuts down cylinders while you're cruising to cut fuel use. This is paired with a stop-start function for traffic.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The 2.5's official combined figure is listed at 7.4L/100km. Our week with the car, with a fair bit of suburban bashing and some highway work, resulted in a nice round 10.0L/100km, which is just inside my 30 per cent rule (if it misses the offical figure by more than 30 per cent, it's disappointingly thirsty).

The 2.0-litre's figures are 6.9L/100km, but I've rarely seen anything like that.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

I have always really enjoyed having a CX-5 for a week or so, and one of the things that absolutely hasn't changed is the car's dynamic capability. I would also go so far as to say that many owners buy this car because on a test drive it just feels right.

What has improved over the years is the attention to detail, like the noise from the front suspension, engine noise suppression and general buzzes and bonks. It's now a much quieter cabin than it has ever been. The 2.5 is also less rackety as a rule, which is helpful.

The updated engine has had a few improvements, but mostly around boring stuff like thermal efficiency. So it still feels like it has always felt, which is adequate without being startling.

Having the Maxx with a 2.5 means a more relaxed drive than the 2.0, which needs a bit of a whipping. Having the Maxx with a 2.5 means a more relaxed drive than the 2.0, which needs a bit of a whipping.

It's well matched with the six-speed auto, which has firm, positive shifts without being annoying when you're pushing it, and lovely smooth shifts when you're not. You'll also be hard pressed to detect the new cylinder deactivation doing its thing.

Having the Maxx with a 2.5 means a more relaxed drive than the 2.0, which needs a bit of a whipping to get going and stay going.

One of the details I particularly like about Mazda's stop-start system is that you can control it yourself with brake pressure. A normal smooth stop at the lights gets the i-Stop light flashing in the dash and so you push a little harder and the engine stops. It's a nifty idea and I'm surprised nobody else (that I know of) is doing it.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Maxx has seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward and reverse AEB, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. I would go so far as to say that this is easily the most impressive standard safety list in its class.

The CX-5 scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in September 2017.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Mazda recently lifted its warranty to the (now almost standard across the board) five years/unlimited kilometres, which is cause for celebration after previous stubborn refusals to do so. Roadside assist still isn't part of the deal, though, available for between $99 and $109 per year.

You'll need to roll into the dealer every every 12 months (good) or 10,000km (oh...), but capped-price servicing applies, so you at least know what you're up for. The average service is upwards of $300.

Verdict

The CX-5 has always been an excellent all-rounder, and one of the most likeable cars Mazda has ever made. It's certainly got under the skin of Australians, probably helped by the vast number of variants the company offers to capture as many wallets as possible.

The Maxx, to my mind, hasn't always been particularly compelling - the Maxx Sport is twice as popular - but it's getting there. Unlike a CX-3 Neo, the entry level CX-5 is a lot more comfortable, loaded with stuff and does all the things the rest of the range does well.

There's a lot of stuff in the Maxx - do you really need a Maxx Sport?

Pricing Guides

$41,005
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$30,880
Highest Price
$51,130

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Akera (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $48,130 2019 MAZDA CX-5 2019 Akera (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GT (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $43,780 2019 MAZDA CX-5 2019 GT (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $32,880 2019 MAZDA CX-5 2019 Maxx (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $35,880 2019 MAZDA CX-5 2019 Maxx (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features8
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety9
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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