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Mazda CX-5 Touring petrol 2017 review

The front-end design has changed slightly, featuring a new 3D-look grille. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Mazda's CX-5 was Australia's best-selling SUV in 2016. It was also the best-selling SUV in 2015, and 2014, and 2013. You get the idea. That's the force Mazda's mid-size SUV is in its growing segment.

For the greater part of last century Hoover so dominated the vacuum-cleaner market in the UK that people there just call them 'Hoovers', no matter what brand they are. And people don't vacuum, they Hoover. Or, more realistically, they argue over whose turn it is to do the Hoovering.

So if you do something well enough for long enough, eventually your brand name becomes a generic catch-all for your product. Which means we could be staring down the barrel of a future in which we jump in our CX-5 to go for a CX-5, and - on particularly long trips - take turns CX-5ing to ward off fatigue behind the wheel.

That's the kind of dominant force Mazda's mid-size SUV has become in its stuffed-to-overflowing segment. Australia's best-selling SUV in 2016, it was also the best-selling SUV in 2015. And 2014. And 2013. You get the idea.

But stiff competition from the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4 means the gap is closing on the popular Mazda in the battle for Australian hearts and wallets. And that's pushed Mazda into what it is calling a model 'step-change', but what we're calling a light redesign and equipment shuffle, which it launched earlier this year.

While Mazda points out that almost every exterior panel on the CX-5 is new, it's very hard to believe. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) While Mazda points out that almost every exterior panel on the CX-5 is new, it's very hard to believe. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The biggest change, though, is the introduction of a new, fifth trim level - the Touring, which we've tested here - which is designed to bridge the gap between the existing Maxx Sport and GT trim levels.

But is that enough to keep Mazda's CX-5 at the head of the pack?

Mazda CX-5 2017: TOURING (4x4)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$26,881

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

If it ain't broke, huh? While Mazda points out that almost every exterior panel on the CX-5 is new for 2017, if you have a good look at a picture of a 2016 model, that is very hard to believe.

The Touring gets the same 17-inch alloys as the Maxx Sport. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The Touring gets the same 17-inch alloys as the Maxx Sport. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Clearly the good folks at Mazda know when they're on to a good thing, and only a crazy person would be rocking a boat that's proven this successful, so the changes are subtle at best. The front-end design has changed slightly, with a new 3D-look grille and new thin concave strips that are designed to give the CX-5 a wider look.

But even Mazda calls it an 'evolution' rather than a revolution. Elsewhere, the new CX-5 is marginally longer than the car it replaces, but is the same width and sits on the same wheelbase as the outgoing model.

But even if it hasn't changed much, it still looks a modern and fresh competitor in the mid-size SUV segment, and the Touring cabin is a fine example of Japanese almost-premium, with a heap of soft-touch materials and a solid and satisfying feeling of quality at every touch-point, especially in the matte grey styling elements and a steering wheel that feels great under the fingers.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

It's plenty practical for passengers, less so for luggage.

The cabin is light-filled and airy in the front seat, and the ergonomics - from the seating position to the cabin layout - is on-point for the driver. Up front, you'll be sharing two cupholders housed in the central storage bin, and there's room in both doors for wine-sized bottles.

The ergonomics are on-point for the driver. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The ergonomics are on-point for the driver. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Venture to the rear and you'll find a roomy space, with backseat air vents (but no temperature controls), along with seatback storage pockets, bottle storage in the doors and two cupholders hidden in a pull-down divider that unfolds over the middle seat. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat.

Boot space, however, remains a little limited. Standard boot space has actually increased to 442 litres (but that's still not huge), and that number will grow to 1342 litres with the 40/20/40 rear seat folded flat.

The 1633kg Touring offers a braked towing capacity of 1800kg.

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

This new Touring trim slots neatly into the middle of the CX-5 line-up, above the Maxx and Maxx Sport but below the GT and top-spec Akera. It will require a $38,990 investment for the petrol-powered vehicle we've tested here, while a diesel-flavoured version will set you back a not insignificant $41,990.

For that money, though, you get the same 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lights, dual-zone climate control and push-button start as the Maxx Sport, but you add powered mirrors, a head-up display (which Mazda calls its 'Active Driving Display'), parking sensors at the front and rear and a traffic sign recognition system that reads street signs as you pass them and displays that information on the head-up screen.

You do get a better suede seat material, which Mazda calls 'Maztex'.

You're entertainment functions are still controlled through a 7.0-inch touchscreen that's paired with a six speaker stereo, but you do get a better suede seat material, which Mazda calls 'Maztex'.

So what are you missing? Well, step up to the GT and you'd get bigger wheels, a better stereo and a sunroof, along with an auto-opening boot and adaptive headlights. But the Touring does successfully fulfil its brief of striking a kind of happy place that lives smack-bang in the middle the CX-5 lineup.

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

Our petrol-powered Touring gets Mazda's very good 2.5-litre, four-cylinder unit, which will produce 140kW at 6000rpm and 251Nm at 4000rpm. It's paired exclusively with a six-speed automatic gearbox, and like all Touring models, is all-wheel drive.

That's enough to produce a 190km/h top speed, while the sprint from 0-100km/h will take a leisurely 9.6 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mazda claims a 7.5L/100km official fuel use number on the combined cycle, while C02 emissions are pegged at 175g/km.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Slide into the Maztex-lined (honestly, who names these things?) driver's seat of the Touring and it becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly why the Mazda is at the top of the mid-size SUV food chain.

Every car arrives with rear parking sensors (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Every car arrives with rear parking sensors (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The obvious stuff is all there; the interior is beautifully put together for a car in this price bracket, and it's all very thoughtfully laid out. The engine isn't overpowered, but feels well matched to the CX-5, and offers an uninterrupted power delivery that always feels smooth and effortless.

The transmission (at least when in 'Normal' mode), goes about its business seamlessly. And the suspension is just firm enough to ensure there's some connection with the road below, but is supple enough to sort out bumps and imperfections without rattling the teeth from your mouth.

But there are other, more hidden gems at work here, too. For one, it does a marvellous job of feeling smaller than it is. We jumped straight from the CX-5 into a genuine small SUV, and the bigger Mazda felt just as compact from behind the wheel.

Boot space, however, remains a little limited. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Boot space, however, remains a little limited. (Image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

But the critical win for the everywhere Mazda is that it's a confidence-inspiring drive no matter which way you attack it, like all its bits and pieces are working in unison to ensure you feel in control and connected to the road below.

It's not perfect. Despite an increased focus on a refined and quiet cabin this time out, the 2.5-litre petrol engine is still crazy loud under heavy acceleration, and using the Sport button transforms the gearbox into a stubborn and annoying creation that clings onto gears like a drowning man clings to a flotation device.

We also had trouble with the in-cabin technology (we never could get an iPhone to pair), while the system itself is a little buggy and slow to load when you first fire up the engine.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Let's start by talking standard safety stuff no matter which CX-5 you buy, because Mazda's list is among the most impressive in the industry.

Every car arrives with dual front, side and curtain airbags, along with rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and a reversing camera. But you also get hill start assist and AEB as part of the standard offering right across the range, which is impressive.

Springing for the Touring trim adds front parking sensors and Mazda's traffic sign recognition system.

All in all, it adds up to a maximum five star ANCAP safety rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

In a world of five- and seven-year warranties, Mazda's three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty is a little underwhelming, and made more so by the fact that roadside assistance is a cost option, priced at about $70 per year.

Still the capped-price servicing helps. Maintenance is scheduled for every 12 months/10,000km, with prices for the first, third and fifth services set at $304, and the second and fourth at $333. You'll also need to factor in a cabin air filter every 40k at $67, and brake fluid every 40k (or two years) at $64.

Verdict

The CX-5 is a fine offering from the folks at Mazda, and its sales success speaks for itself. The good news, then? The Touring, while not cheap, does exactly what it says on the box, picking the best bits from the CX-5 features list to create a new and well-equipped model in the line-up.

Is the CX-5 your medium SUV top pick? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing guides

$32,990
Based on 324 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$21,990
Highest Price
$41,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Akera (4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $29,260 – 35,310 2017 Mazda CX-5 2017 Akera (4x4) Pricing and Specs
GT (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $31,862 – 39,990 2017 Mazda CX-5 2017 GT (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $21,990 – 26,990 2017 Mazda CX-5 2017 Maxx (4x2) Pricing and Specs
Maxx (4x4) 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,670 – 27,390 2017 Mazda CX-5 2017 Maxx (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.4
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership6
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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