You don't have to say "compact crossover" three times in a row to make one appear; the parking lot is already full of them. They've scared away most of their car counterparts, but it's crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 that make us think maybe the future isn't so spooky after all.
Our CX-5 arrived in the top Signature trim with flashy Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint and 19-inch dark-silver aluminum wheels. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and wood trim gave it a luxury feel despite its less than exorbitant price. The Caturra Brown interior combined good-quality dark dash materials with brown ventilated leather seats brought a very upscale finish to the cabin. A few accessories were added; all-weather floor mats went to good use, a rear bumper guard probably saved the CX-5 from a few blemishes, and a roof rack went largely unused.
HIGHS: Charming good looks, high-quality interior, and still the best way to drive a crossover.
A 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-banger and all-wheel drive come standard in Signature trims, but it's the 310 pound-feet of torque that gives the CX-5 an almost diesel-like power delivery. Print director Eric Tingwall pointed out, "This engine is tuned for a strong low-end tug from zero to 30 mph at about 50-percent throttle. When you floor the accelerator and ride it out through the relatively low redline, the engine feels a bit coarse and reluctant. I remember Mazda saying something about zoom-zoom, but this engine doesn't have any of that spirit." At 40,000 miles, however, the 2.5 did show a little more enthusiasm, delivering better acceleration times across the board.
But that tuning makes sense for the small-crossover use case, which doesn't typically involve regular trips to redline. It does involve regular trips, however, and on that front the CX-5 was often passed over in favor of more capacious competitors. We found the CX-5 stylish inside and out and a pleasure to drive, but its tight cargo space and lack of towing capability explains why it was overlooked for family trips. There were several staffers who asked about it having a trailer hitch—no, it didn't—but even if it did, the CX-5 maxes out at a 2000-pound tow rating. Other long-termers with more cargo space, like the Honda Passport, were often selected ahead of the Mazda despite the CX-5 delivering a more upscale driving experience.
LOWS: Lack of cargo space and not the most fuel-efficient commuter.
The CX-5 completed its test without any hiccups or gaffes, despite being rummaged through by a would-be car thief. We took it to Mazda for six scheduled maintenance visits throughout its long-term test, regular 7500-mile services, and an additional stop right at 40,000 miles to replace the spark plugs. That cost $293, although at the same time the dealer noticed that we were wearing thin of rear brake pad and that those rotors were also warped. Add $574 to the normal-wear column. In terms of reliability, the CX-5 couldn't have been more consistent if it had taken a fiber pill every morning.
The most frequent gripes concerned the Mazda's tiny and slow infotainment system. Sometimes the menu would just freeze after startup or get stuck in a loading cycle when switching between menus. This system has since been upgraded for 2020 models, solving its lagginess. We've been in a new CX-5, and the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen is also a big improvement.
How much we like driving this 10Best-winning vehicle should not be diminished by how long it took us to reach 40,000 miles. We took delivery in March 2019 and only made it to 30,000 miles a year later, before quarantine started. It took another six months to knock out the last 10,000 miles. In contrast, our long-term Kia Telluride reached 10,000 miles in only its first three months, but its three rows and usable tow rating makes it far more friendly for a road trip with four or more people.
The CX-5 took us plenty of places, just nowhere very far from home. Most trips were local. It did a lot of commuter work (back when we were still commuting to work), and it ran a lot of errands. Assistant technical editor Maxwell Mortimer was the long-distance champ, venturing as far south as Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and driving 200 miles north of the office to Harrisville, Michigan for a camping trip. We averaged 24 mpg, matching the combined EPA-estimated mileage. We achieved 30 mpg during our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test near the 40,000 mile mark, which also matches the EPA's estimate, but it's still behind the all-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and Honda CR-V. But we'd rather burn fuel in the CX-5.
After 40,000 miles we still appreciate the luxurious look and feel of the CX-5's comfortable leather seats, as well as its six-speed automatic transmission in a field rife with continuously variable automatics (CVTs). We wish its competition could step it up and offer the same effortless steering and controlled suspension as the CX-5—or that the Mazda could provide the cargo space of a Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue. The perfect crossover doesn't exist, but we respect the CX-5's prioritization of the driving experience. Better to be really good at one thing rather than mediocre at everything.
Months in Fleet: 18 months Current Mileage: 40,206 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.3 gal Observed Fuel Range: 360 miles
Service: $971 Normal Wear: $574 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
The past 30,000 miles of our long-term test with the turbocharged Mazda CX-5 have been trouble-free, uneventful bliss. It’s been the type of ownership experience you’d hope for with any vehicle. There hasn’t even been a single unscheduled maintenance visit or factory recall yet.
The CX-5 has drawn some unwanted attention, though. One night, while parked at a C/D staffer’s apartment complex, someone got into the presumably unlocked CX-5 and rummaged through the glove compartment and center console but left without stealing anything—and we had a bag of tools and a USB cord in there. It’s possible the would-be thief was scared off by something, but it makes us think that this CX-5 is a lucky one.
The 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four under the hood remains a staff favorite. That said, there are a few entries in the logbook that criticize the moment of turbo lag that exists at low rpm. And some staff members complain that this engine lacks power when you twist the tach past 5000 rpm. Quipped deputy reviews editor Tony Quiroga, “This engine makes low-end power and runs out of enthusiasm at high revs like a Fox-body Mustang ‘5.0’ V-8. The quotes are there of course because that engine is actually a 4.9-liter.”
We continue to be grateful that Mazda employs a six-speed automatic instead of a CVT. Shifts are crisp and quick, and the CX-5 never suffers from the dreaded droning sound that CVTs utter under acceleration. We do enjoy the faint sighs of the turbocharger’s pressure relief valve recirculating air on most shifts.
To celebrate his completion of a two-week quarantine after returning from a press trip in Italy, assistant technical editor Maxwell Mortimer took a 1400-mile road trip to the Tennessee–North Carolina border just before Michigan’s shelter-at-home decree hit. He writes that “the CX-5 is awesome. I can’t help but keep comparing its level of entertainment with a Volkswagen GTI's.”
Senior editor Joey Capparella also took it on a trip to Tennessee, where he noted the CX-5’s unexceptional highway fuel economy: “I had to fill up about every 350 miles or so. Out of boredom, I tried to get the low-fuel warning light to show zero, but I chickened out at 17 miles.”
The CX-5 appears to have a very conservative fuel gauge, though, because when Capparella compared the tank size with the quantity he pumped, the Mazda had over two gallons left in the tank. During Capparella's trip, his average fuel economy registered 29 mpg, or 1 mpg short of what an identical CX-5 managed during our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test. Had he wanted to, Capparella could have likely pushed it beyond 400 miles before having to seriously start looking for a gas station.
Since our last update, we’ve maintained a steady 24 mpg in combined driving. Currently, the CX-5 is driving on Nokian Hakkapeliita R3 SUV winter tires, which have taken the worst the winter could throw at them. Now that spring is here, we’ll be swapping to the original equipment: Toyo A36 all-season rubber.
Inside, the nappa-leather-trimmed driver’s seat is beginning to become a bit glossy as more and more butts slide in and out of it. Small creases and wrinkles are appearing, too. Left alone and in the warmest setting, the heated seats reach uncomfortably hot temperatures. Within minutes, you end up turning them off for fear of searing yourself. The 7.0-inch touchscreen is a bit frustrating, as it often lags and takes a long time to boot up when you turn on the CX-5. You find yourself waiting for it to load, stuck watching a gear icon spin on the screen for about 20 seconds. It’s one of the few gripes we have, though, as the rest of the interior has an upmarket design and feel.
We still have 10,000 miles to go before our loan ends. We'll see if the CX-5 can maintain its perfect reliability record. We look forward to the day when we can take it for another road trip. Right now, we’ll have to settle for quick runs to the grocery store.
Months in Fleet: 13 months Current Mileage: 30,375 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.3 gal Observed Fuel Range: 360 miles
Service: $574 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
It has taken nearly a year for our long-term Mazda CX-5 to cross the halfway point in its 40,000-mile stay with us. But that gradual mile accumulation is not for the Mazda's lack of goodness as a compact SUV. While we're not petty enough to shy away from the CX-5's handsome styling, excellent driving character, and trouble-free reliability because of its irksome infotainment system, that aging interface is about the only thing we have been able to consistently criticize.
Indeed, our Mazda is so agreeable that most of the very few entries in its logbook center on the small 7.0-inch infotainment display and both its slow response and less than seamless operation. "It's irritating to have to navigate into menu structures just to browse radio stations," wrote print director Eric Tingwall. "A dedicated seek or tuning control is desperately needed. I normally like these control-knob-based systems, but if it's going to be this clumsy, I'd rather just use the touchscreen." While Mazda has enlarged that touchscreen to 8.0 inches in higher trim levels as part of its updates to the CX-5 for the 2020 model year, this operating system still feels clunky and dated compared to the brand's newer setup found in its Mazda 3 and CX-30 models.
Still, after more than 20,000 miles and no shortage of fresher competitors to sample, the CX-5 continues to impress with its optional 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four. While that engine gains an additional 10 lb-ft of torque to 320 lb-ft for 2020, we don’t miss it on our 2019 model. It might not be the quickest in the compact-crossover segment—that would be the new Ford Escape with its optional turbo 2.0-liter four—but the CX-5 turbo's smooth, responsive power delivery impart to it a little of the MX-5 Miata's spunky personality. We're also pleased with the Mazda's average fuel economy of 24 mpg, spot on with its EPA combined estimate.
Additional satisfaction comes from the CX-5's six-speed automatic transmission, which shuffles gears smartly and effectively enough, especially in Sport mode, that we never feel shorted by the lack of paddle shifters on its steering wheel. Compared to the often mushy and droning continuously variable automatic transmissions found in many of the CX-5's peers, this six-speed 'box is refreshingly well tuned for both lazy and spirited driving. Staffers continue to levy similar praise on the precise and direct steering, the sorted body control that resists disturbances from Michigan's shoddy roads, and the pleasantly upscale interior of our top-spec Signature model.
The CX-5 also has been wholly reliable. Unlike many of our other current long-termers, not even a flat tire or a cracked windshield has interrupted the Mazda's clean streak. Our only visit to the dealer since our last checkup was for scheduled maintenance at around 21,000 miles, which amounted to $162 for an oil and filter change, cabin air filter replacement, and tire rotation.
Employed as a utility vehicle, the CX-5 is as capable as it is enjoyable to drive. Road warrior Scott Olman was able to fit a dining room table and six chairs in the back of the Mazda with both of its rear seats folded, which is pretty respectable in any compact ute. The colder temperatures of winter in Michigan also have helped us appreciate the effectiveness of the CX-5 Signature's standard heated front seats and steering wheel, although a shortage of snow thus far has meant we've had little opportunity to test out the excellent foul-weather traction of the Nokian Hakkapeliittawinter tires we've installed. There is still plenty of time for more of the white stuff to fall, though, and for us to put many more miles on the CX-5.
Months in Fleet: 11 months Current Mileage: 22,636 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.3 gal Observed Fuel Range: 360 miles
Service: $427 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
So far, the road to 40,000 miles in our Mazda CX-5 has been smooth, even as winter descends on these Michigan roads. There's nothing shocking about compact crossovers, other than the rate at which consumers keep buying them. So far, the CX-5 has performed as expected, with a few minor annoyances sprinkled on top.
As part of our current 17-car long-term test fleet, the Mazda CX-5 conceals its handsome face behind our more interesting, and sometimes problematic, vehicles. It's easy to be overshadowed by, say, our 362-hp twin-turbo Mercedes wagon, or a long-termer that shall go nameless but is tethered to the future of driverless cars and also has a fart button. (Yes, it's our Tesla Model 3.) The CX-5 is like a comfortable knee brace: you don't want to wear it, but when you do it's not so bad, because it's good at what it's supposed to do.
Our long-termer has the new-for-2019 250-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four. This engine is only available with all-wheel-drive models. Just after we ordered ours, Mazda added a 2.0-liter diesel engine option. The price of our all-wheel-drive Signature trim CX-5 is $39,850, which got us a Bose sound system, adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats (ventilated in front), and a 360-degree parking camera. The options on ours put it far from the $25,395 CX-5's base price and closer in price to the Jeep Cherokee or the GMC Terrain Denali.
Our experience with the turbocharged engine has generated few comments, which is a good thing. If engineers can create something to keep automotive journalists from complaining, they should box it and sell it to the masses. Mazda appears to have done just that. The new turbo engine emits a noticeable moan. The noise is somewhat expected for an engine that can send the CX-5 from zero to 60 mph in only 6.1 seconds. We've found the CX-5's 187-hp base engine feels underpowered—or, in other words, boring. Which is an adjective we would use to describe most patients in the hospital wing of compact crossovers. Our CX-5 wishes them a full recovery.
That isn't to say our romance with the CX-5 has been perfect. An overwhelming number of entries in the CX-5's logbook cry over slow infotainment loading times. After startup, several staffers were terrorized with the inability to change the SiriusXM channel from E Street to Fly FM fast enough. The 7.0-inch touchscreen loads at the same rate that old hips dance to Springsteen. On occasion, SiriusXM suffered from repetitive lost-signal errors, a problem annoying enough that one of us said it would prevent them from buying a CX-5.
Another common bruise in the logbook was the low-res camera. The 7.0-inch touchscreen is already barely larger than phones tagged XL, but the camera quality was deemed poor by three staffers who had driven the vehicle long distances. The longest trip was an 800-mile weekend journey by testing director Dave VanderWerp, who was unimpressed by the CX-5's driver-assist technology. The absence of lane centering means that when the CX-5 begins to wander from its lane, it doesn't automatically correct and nudge the car back to safety. The CX-5 just buzzes, which isn't much help compared to some of its cheaper rivals with similar assistance tech.
A fresh set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 winter tires came in handy earlier this week, when the first major snowfall hit the Midwest. Senior editor Joey Capparella wrote: "These Nokian winter tires feel pretty unstoppable. The heated seats and steering wheel get nice and toasty." Meaning staffers looking forward to working from home on snow days should not take the CX-5 the night before.
The CX-5 has been back to the dealership twice, but only for routine maintenance to change engine oil, rotate the tires, and for inspections at the 7500- and 15,000-mile marks. The cabin air filter was also changed, but other than that, our CX-5 has been trouble-free.
Through its first 10,000 miles, the CX-5 has not been the first pick by staffers rushing to lunch on Taco Tuesday. Not because it's bad, but because it's just fine. Now that we've entered snow season here in the mitten state, we'll be monitoring its competence in dealing with Siberian conditions and its ability to whisk us to warmer, sunnier climes.
Months in Fleet: 8 months Current Mileage: 16,331 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 24 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.3 gal Observed Fuel Range: 360 miles
Service: $265 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
Mazda has few obvious problems, but if prodded to highlight some, we'd cite weak brand recognition in the United States and a shortage of fun paint colors, particularly for the MX-5 Miata. If that sounds as if we're reaching, well, we are. The automaker's products are so uniformly likable that finding things to gripe about takes some pedantic effort. Mazda is also pushing hurriedly upmarket, a development that is as easily seen through the lens of the CX-5 crossover as it is in any of Mazda's recent products.
HIGHS: Classy looks inside and out, mature driving manners, smooth turbo engine.
Like the recently updated Mazda 6 sedan, CX-9 SUV, and all-new Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback, the CX-5 stands a head or two above similarly priced mainstream competitors, in this case, the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Chevrolet Equinox. The brand enjoys an enviable quirk: More than half of its sales mix, model for model, consists of the higher trim levels. Mazda has taken this to mean that buyers can and want to pay more for their vehicles, which has spurred it to add ever more deluxe Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims above the previously top-dog Grand Touring spec on some models, the CX-5 included. We've taken the same development as license to sign up for a 40,000-mile long-term test in a loaded 2019 CX-5 in range-topping Signature trim. We for sure wanted to get the newly available turbo 2.5-liter inline-four in our long-termer, and the only way to do that is with the Grand Touring Reserve or Signature trim level. The lesser Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims make do with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter. And we're not above spoiling ourselves with a top-spec example.
So what does a compact Mazda crossover costing BMW money deliver? For starters, the impression that it should cost BMW money. The CX-5 looks, inside and out, like something that belongs in the compact-luxury-SUV segment. It's mostly true, even at the CX-5's $25,395 starting price, and particularly so on the $37,935 Signature trim. Adding our test car's gorgeous $595 Soul Red paint, $70 cargo mat, $125 floor mats, $400 backlit doorsill accents, $125 rear bumper guard, $250 retractable cargo cover, and $400 roof rack rails brings the final tally to just $39,900. This, we should point out, is for the gas-powered Signature; after we took delivery of our test car, Mazda introduced a diesel engine option available only on the Signature trim. Pricing with that engine starts at $42,045.
LOWS: More people should know what Mazda is.
Mazda includes a number of features that push competitors' nicer trim levels toward the same $40,000 mark, though none of those vehicles does as good an impression of a near-luxury product. (We're looking specifically at the GMC Terrain Denali and Jeep Cherokee, which cost $42,670 and $43,150 when equipped similarly to our CX-5 Signature.) The Signature brings as standard equipment some active-safety gear that's optional on several competitors, including automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.
Also standard on the Signature: lovely Caturra Brown nappa leather seating, real wood trim, a Bose audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-folding door mirrors, adaptive headlights that point into corners, a power liftgate, power-operated and heated front and rear seats (ventilated in front), a heated steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen that can also be controlled via a central control knob, navigation, a 360-degree parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, and that aforementioned turbo four, which cranks out 250 horsepower. There are no major options offered beyond a few accessories.
The 2.5-liter in lesser CX-5s makes 187 horsepower, and all-wheel drive is a $1400 upcharge on Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models. The turbocharged CX-5s are sold only with all-wheel drive. Like every modern, automatic-transmission Mazda, the CX-5 uses the brand's slick-shifting six-speed unit.
The combination of a turbo gasoline engine and all-wheel drive delivers a 6.1-second zero-to-60-mph time and punchy acceleration at most speeds (certainly stronger than with the base gas engine). More of a huffer than a screamer, the turbo four shoves the Mazda along on a wave of low-end torque. It might not be thrilling in the "zoom-zoom" sense, but Mazda doesn't lean on that phrase for marketing anymore, so let's not dwell on the idea that a compact crossover's engine needs to feel racy in order to be wholly effective. For now, we're calling the power delivery a possible hang-up when set in the Mazda brand's predominantly sporty context; we'll deliberate further over the next 40,000 miles. So, stay tuned as we live with our luxurious Mazda day in and day out and see whether our early positive impressions of its smooth ride, quiet interior, and fine road manners are affirmed or challenged.
Months in Fleet: 1 month Current Mileage: 2429 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 15.3 gal Observed Fuel Range: 350 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature 2.5 Turbo AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$39,900 (base price: $37,935)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
152 in3, 2488 cm3
250 hp @ 5000 rpm
310 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.6-in vented disc/11.9-in disc
Tires: Toyo A36, P225/55R-19 99V M+S
Wheelbase: 106.2 in
Length: 179.1 in
Width: 72.5 in
Height: 65.3 in
Passenger volume: 102 ft3
Cargo volume: 31 ft3
Curb weight: 3812 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS: NEW
60 mph: 6.1 sec
100 mph: 16.2 sec
130 mph: 39.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.2 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.4 sec
¼-mile: 14.6 sec @ 95 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 175 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.78 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D TEST RESULTS: 40,000 MILES
60 mph: 5.8 sec
100 mph: 15.5 sec
130 mph: 35.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.4 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.1 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.3 sec
1/4 mile: 14.4 sec @ 97 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 174 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.77 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 24 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 31 mpg
Highway range: 470 miles
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 24/22/27 mpg
3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper
5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
5 years/Unlimited miles corrosion protection
3 years/36,000 miles roadside assistance
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
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What Makes a Reliable Brand?
Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.
There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.
Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.
What Impacts a Car’s Reliability
Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.
Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.
And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500.
Mazda CX-5 Specs
Vehicle Type: SUV
Engine options: 2.0 L SkyActiv-G PE-VPS I4, 2.5 L SkyActiv-G PY-VPS I4, 2.5 L SkyActiv-G PY-VPS I4-T
Total internal combustion range: 367 miles
Is The Mazda CX-5 Reliable?
As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the Mazda CX-5 is reliable or unreliable.
To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the CX-5’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.
The CX-5’s NHTSA History
As collected by the NHTSA, these are the CX-5’s issues throughout the years.
Recall: Software Error May Cause Engine Stall
Recall: Software Error May Cause Engine Stall, Curtain Air Bags May Not Deploy Properly/FMVSS 226
Recall: Trailer Hitch Wiring Harness May Short Circuit
Common Mazda CX-5 Problems and Repair Costs
As with other car brands, not all CX-5 models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic CX-5 offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.
2016 Model Year: Daytime Running Light Failure
Repair Costs: $1,130, according to CarComplaints.
“We are senior citizens and purchased this vehicle thinking it would be our last. We love this SUV but feel like the led lights going out in the headlight on our passenger side is a safety defect & should be fixed by the Mazda dealership. The cost associated with this fix was quoted to be about $1200, As most senior citizens we do not have extra money for this type of repair cost, The SUV was still under warranty when we purchased, but was told this problem was not included in our warranty. So it remains unfixed at this time. Mazda should stand by their products and issue a recall to fix this design flaw.”
2015 Model Year: Windshield Easily Cracks and Divots
Repair Costs: $780, according to CarComplaints.
“I have never had a window crack this size. I was not even driving behind any big trucks and I do not tail people. Never saw a rock coming, but boy did it make an impact. The shop said it could not be repaired. It would need to be replaced.”
2016 Model Year: Premature Brake Wear
Repair Costs: $660, according to CarComplaints.
“Rear brake pads and rotors need to be replaced. The left brake caliper is frozen and will also need to be replaced at a considerable cost. At 45000+ miles I am disgusted that this has happened. Perhaps the car manufacturer did not grease everything properly. Blah!! I have not been told by the shop what replacing the caliper will cost, but it will be expensive!!”
JD Power Consumer Reliability Score
According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.”
FAQs About the Mazda CX-5
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q: Is The CX-5 Expensive To Maintain?
A: That depends on how you treat it, how the previous owner treated it, and if you’ve followed the CX-5’s regularly scheduled maintenance.
Q: Is a CX-5 High Maintenance?
A: It doesn’t seem to be, at least according to CarComplaints and the NHTSA reports, but there is a regular maintenance schedule you need to follow.
Q: How Many Miles Does a CX-5 Last?
A: Consumer Reports states that new cars are all designed to exceed eight years or about 200,000 miles. However, individual mileage may vary based on, as stated above, how you treat your car.
Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the CX-5?
A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. If it’s a loose body panel, likely not.
The Mazda CX-5 is a fun compact SUV that combines sporty driving with practicality.
Ideal for families, the CX-5 is safe, spacious and provides good fuel economy.
In this article, we’ll examine the average lifespan of a Mazda CX-5, read on to find out more…
Here is the short answer to how long Mazda CX-5s last:
A Mazda CX-5 can last between 200,000 and 250,000 miles when driven conservatively and well maintained. The Mazda CX-5 is considered to be a reliable, durable vehicle, and owners can expect 13 – 17 years of service based on driving 15,000 miles per year.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Mazda CX-5?
Since the first Mazda CX-5 rolled off the assembly line in 2013, the model has demonstrated its longevity.
Based on current data, owners can expect their Mazda CX-5 to last somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 miles, with newer models having an easier time reaching or exceeding these milestones.
Reportedly, some Mazda CX-5 owners have surpassed 300,000 miles, and although careful maintenance makes this possible, it should not be expected.
One of the best ways to extend the life of your Mazda CX-5 is to keep up to date with maintenance requirements.
The Mazda CX-5 owner’s manual outlines regular service intervals that an owner must adhere to after a certain number of miles.
Following these maintenance intervals and carrying out repairs as problems arise, thereby preventing more significant issues, can help you get the maximum mileage from your vehicle.
Smooth driving habits can also help prevent mechanical problems from appearing by reducing wear and tear on components.
How Soon Should You Expect Rust on a Mazda CX-5?
Owners have not reported extensive rust problems for the Mazda CX-5, and it is not considered to be a widespread issue.
There have isolated reports from CX-5 owners on the Mazda forum mazdas247.com of surface rusting in the following areas:
- Exhaust pipes
- Other parts of the vehicle’s underside
Most of this was reported to be harmless and did not impact the safety or performance of the vehicle.
One owner we encountered who lives in a ‘rust prone region’ reported that surface rust appeared after 3 years of use on their CX-5’s underside.
Where you live can play a large role in the likelihood and severity of developing rust, some high risk areas are:
- By the coast – where salt in the air can cling to your vehicle and accelerate corrosion.
- Regions that salt their roads in the winter – the salt/chemicals used to melt the snow are corrosive agents and can wreak havoc on your vehicle.
- Areas with high humidity due to the amount of moisture in the air
To help keep rust to a minimum we advise the following:
- Apply a rustproofing treatment: This provides an added layer of protection for your CX-5, and can help prevent or delay rusting.
- Washing. Regular washing of your CX-5 can help prevent the buildup of substances that speed up corrosion. Washing is an absolute must after driving on muddy, snowy or salt-covered roads.
- Storage. Keep your Mazda CX-5 in a garage or under a carport to help reduce the vehicle’s exposure to the elements.
- Keep an eye out for rust. Rust usually starts small before it becomes a big issue. Inspect the car’s undercarriage for rust regularly, and be sure to pay attention to chips in body paint that can expose the untreated metal to moisture – if it’s too severe for a DIY fix have a body shop take a look at it.
You may also be interested in our article: Mazda CX-3 in snow and winter driving
How Long Does the Mazda CX-5 Last Compared to Similar Car Models?
There is no shortage of options when it comes to compact SUVs, in this section we’ll see how the CX-5 fares against its closest competitors.
Mazda CX-5 vs. Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV that is priced to compete with the CX-5.
The Nissan Rogue has a slightly shorter lifespan than the Mazda CX-5. The Rogue is estimated to last around 200,000 miles, while the CX-5 can reasonably last 250,000 miles.
On RepairPal, the Mazda CX-5’s reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5 exceeds the Nissan Rogue’s rating of 4.0.
Compared to the Rogue, the CX-5 experiences fewer and less severe breakdowns.
Furthermore, the estimated annual repair cost of the Nissan Rogue is $467 compared to the Mazda CX-5s estimated yearly repair cost of $447.
This means that Nissan Rogue owners pay more each year for a less reliable vehicle than the Mazda CX-5.
Please also read our article: How long do Nissan Rogue last
Mazda CX-5 vs. Honda CR-V
The Honda CR-V features a stylish appearance and sporty performance like the CX-5.
The Honda CR-V is one of the longest-lasting compact SUVs on the market, offering an expected lifespan of 250,00 to 300,000 miles. Drivers can expect up to 20 years of service.
The Mazda CX-5 is more expensive to maintain than the CR-V.
The annual estimated repair cost of a Honda CR-V is $407, while the Mazda CX-5’s estimated annual repair cost is $447.
Both the CX-5 and the CR-V have a reliability rating of 4.5 on RepairPal, indicating that both models are highly reliable.
In terms of overall reliability rankings, the Mazda CX-5 is rated 1st out of 26 compact SUVs (reviewed by RepairPal), whilst the Honda Accord gets the 2nd place spot.
Both the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 have an exceptional reputation for reliability, although the CX-5 costs slightly more to maintain.
Mazda CX-5 vs. Ford Escape
The Ford Escape is one of the most common and well-known midsize SUVs.
It features a bulkier body style than the CX-5 and boasts similar performance features.
Despite updates in recent model years, the Ford Escape has one of the shortest lifespans of vehicles in its class, with an expected service life of only 150,000 to 200,000 miles.
The Ford Escape has a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5 on RepairPal, which is above average but still lower than the Mazda CX-5’s rating of 4.5.
The Escape is more expensive to repair, and is reportedly more prone to breakdown.
The Mazda CX-5 has an annual estimated repair cost of $447, while the Ford Escape has an estimated annual repair cost of $600.
|Reliability Comparison Chart|
|Mazda CX-5||Nissan Rogue||Honda CR-V||Ford Escape|
|Annual Repair Cost||$447||$467||$407||$400|
|Lifespan(miles)||200,000 – 250,000||200,000||250,000 – 300,000||150,000 – 200,000|
|RepairPal Reliability Star Rating||4.5 out of 5||4.0 out of 5||4.5 out of 5||4.0 out of 5.0|
|RepairPal Reliability Rank||1st out of 26||13th out of 26||2nd out of 26||16th out of 26|
How Reliable is the Mazda CX-5?
Japanese cars are synonymous with reliability and the Mazda CX-5 is no exception.
The CX-5 is one of the most reliable cars in its class and has gained a solid reputation for reliability and longevity. This is atestament to the Japanese automaker, who is well regarded as one of the most reliable brands in the industry.
The RepairPal rating of 4.5/ 5 for the Mazda CX-5 shows that the CX-5 is exceptionally reliable.
RepairPal also gave the CX-5 the 1st-place position on their list of most reliable compact SUVs.
The Mazda CX-5 achieved a reliability rating of 8.1/10 from Edmunds.
A rating of 8.1 indicates above-average reliability compared to similar vehicles.
Kelly Blue Book awarded the Mazda CX-5 a reliability rating of 4.5/5 based on customer feedback, which again indicates that the CX-5 has above-average reliability.
Overall, it is safe to say the Mazda CX-5 is a very reliable vehicle.
The Best and Worst Years for the Mazda CX-5
While the Mazda CX-5 has gained a reputation for reliability, some model years are worse than others…
Mazda CX-5 Worst Model Year
The database Car Complaints, which archives owner complaints about their vehicles, indicates that the worst production year of the Mazda CX-5 was 2016.
The 2016 CX-5 received the highest number of complaints compared to any other model year by quite some margin with 137 complaints in total.
This model year was known for windshields that broke easily and premature brake wear and in some cases, complete brake failure.
The loss of braking action associated with this model year was a severe safety issue.
Many owners also reported the failure of the LED daytime running lights, costing around $1,100 to fix and occurring at around the 44,000 mile mark.
These three issues dominated the complaints for this model year.
You may also be interested in our article: where are Mazda CX-5 made?
Mazda CX-5 Best Model Year
Since 2016, the Mazda CX-5 has seen a big drop in the number of complaints, this shows they’ve been proactively addressing issues and fine tuning their vehicle.
From our research, we believe the best model year is the 2020 Mazda CX-5.
At the time of writing it has no complaints registered against it on Car Complaints.
It is the most technologically advanced of all the model years and is also the most environmentally friendly.
Complaints by model year:
- 2013: 57 complaints
- 2014: 96 complaints
- 2015: 38 complaints
- 2016: 137 complaints (worst year)
- 2017: 17 complaints
- 2018: 25 complaints
- 2019: 4 complaints
- 2020: 0 complaints
What About Recalls for These Models?
According to statistics collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there have been a total of 8 recalls for the Mazda CX-5 since 2013.
Mazda issued a recall for the 2016 CX-5 due to a possible failure of a critical bolt in the steering assembly.
When this bolt breaks, it causes the vehicle to become impossible to steer.
A recall was issued for the 2018 and 2019 Mazda CX-5 model years concerning engine operation. In some cases, the engine computer can fail and cause the engine to shut down while driving.
Recalls for individual model years are listed below:
- 2013: 0 recalls
- 2014: 0 recalls
- 2015: 0 recalls
- 2016: 4 recalls
- 2017: 1 recall
- 2018: 1 recall
- 2019: 1 recall
- 2020: 1 recall
Mazda CX-5 Model Year List
- 2013 Mazda CX-5
- 2014 Mazda CX-5
- 2015 Mazda CX-5
- 2016 Mazda CX-5
- 2018 Mazda CX-5
- 2019 Mazda CX-5
- 2020 Mazda CX-5
Are Mazda CX-5s Expensive to Maintain?
Owners can expect to pay less than average to maintain their Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 has an estimated annual repair cost of $447, significantly lower than the average annual repair cost of $526 for similar vehicles.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Mazda CX-9 Last?
How Long do the Brakes Last?
Factory-standard brakes on the Mazda CX-5 should last between 30,000 and 60,000 miles depending on how aggressively the vehicle is driven.
Controlled and smooth braking will help make your brakes last longer.
How Long do the Tires Last?
Standard tires on a new Mazda can last approximately 50,000 miles.
- Maintain the correct tire pressure as specified by your owner’s manual.
- Have your tires rotated regularly to ensure even wear.
How Long do the Spark Plugs Last?
Like most modern vehicles, the modern spark plugs in a Mazda CX-5 should last at least 100,000 miles.
How Long do the Transmissions Last?
With appropriate maintenance, a Mazda CX-5’s transmission should last over 150,000 miles.
- Check your transmission fluid regularly to keep your car running smoothly and safely
- Immediately bring your CX-5 in for service if you hear grinding or whining from the transmission.
What About Insurance Cost?
The Mazda CX-5 costs about the same to insure as most vehicles in its class. The average annual insurance cost is reported to be $1,350.
Tips to Prolong the Life of your Mazda CX-5
- Follow maintenance procedures closely.
- Wash and inspect your vehicle regularly.
- Drive gently and avoid aggressive stops and starts.
- Be vigilant and aware of problems as they occur.
- If you notice a problem, address it before it becomes a more significant issue
However, we found the ride to be choppy and road noise pronounced, making it a loud car. Early versions were powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that returned a good 25 mpg overall in our tests, but it was underpowered. Look for a later model with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which is much more responsive and returns the same fuel economy. The smaller engine was eventually phased out. Happily, the cabin is roomy and versatile. Touring and higher trims have standard blind spot monitoring, a welcome feature. If budget permits, we suggest focusing your used-car search on a 2014 or newer model as these did better in the IIHS small overlap crash test. 2016 brought a light freshening that made the car marginally quieter, spiffed up the interior, and brought the Mazda Connect infotainment system, which is frustrating to use. Automatic emergency braking became available on Touring and Grand Touring models, with forward-collision warning an exclusive option on the top trim.More
Suv reliability mazda
With positive reviews using words like “dreamy” and “fun,” the 2020 Mazda CX-5 sounds like one to rush out and buy. But is this a crossover SUV that buyers can count on for years to come? For thoughts on reliability, we turn to Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates.
How is reliability measured?
Both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates rate vehicle reliability using surveys. Consumer Reports surveys its members about any problems in 17 different categories they’ve had with vehicles over the past 12 months. Vehicles are compared to other vehicles from the same model year. Brand new vehicles have their reliability ranked based on brand history or similar models.
J.D. Power surveys owners, and one of their studies, the Vehicle Dependability Study, asks owners about complaints they’ve had on three-year-old vehicles. Their findings are also used by U.S. News & World Reports for their scorecard ratings.
The 2020 Mazda CX-5
Consumer Reports says the 2020 Mazda CX-5’s handling “is responsive and enjoyable.” Car and Driver calls the 2020 CX-5 “a winner” and put it on their 2020 10Best list. The CX-5 offers five trims to pick from: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. All-wheel drive is an upgrade for the first three trims and is standard for the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature.
There are currently two four-cylinder engine options. The first three trims have a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Grand Touring Reserve and Signature come with a 250-horsepower turbocharged engine. The new highest trim, Signature, will have an additional engine option, a 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, although it isn’t yet available.
Consumer Reports gave the interior a positive review for appearance and comfort but said the infotainment system took some time to learn. Although there have been mainly minor updates for 2020, the i-Activsense suite of driver-assistance features is now standard for all trims. It includes automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlamps, plus additional features.
Reliability of the 2020 Mazda CX-5
Consumer Reports calls the 2020 CX-5 “one of the best small SUVs.” They gave it an overall score of 84 out of 100 and ranked it number one out of 17 compact SUVs. It has an 80 score for its road test and was given a predicted reliability of five out of five along with a predicted owner satisfaction rating of four out of five. J.D. Power provides ratings for the different trims and configurations, but all received an 82 out of 100 for quality and reliability. The 2020 CX-5 earned an 80 out of 100 overall score.
Reliability in past model years
Since the 2020 model year ratings are based in part on recent past ratings, it’s useful to look at the years since the CX-5’s 2017 redesign. While the 2017 model year resembled the past generation, Mazda made a number of changes and improvements. The engine and good handling were retained, but the cabin noise was reduced.
Reliability and owner satisfaction ratings from Consumer Reports were both solid for 2017 through 2019 model years. Model year 2017 had fours for both, while 2018 and 2019 received five out of five for reliability and four out of five for owner satisfaction. Looking in detail at the 2019 model year, Consumer Reports ranked the CX-5 number two of four in reliability among 2019 SUVs, including the Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester.
All potential trouble spots earned the highest green mark, except for in-car electronics. J.D. Power also gave the 2019 CX-5 good marks. Like the 2020, it earned an 80 out of 100 overall score and an 82 out of 100 for quality and reliability. There is a recall on the 2019’s automatic transmission, which can unexpectedly stall.
It appears that Mazda took a solid car and made some positive adjustments to the driving experience. In addition, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates give it strong ratings for reliability.
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