2018 Mazda CX-5 Expert Review

4.7 Overall Score
Performance 4.6 Comfort 3.9 Styling 4.7 Value 4.6

Editor's Overview

From its sleek styling to its handsome interior, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 feels far more premium than its $25,000 asking price might suggest. Although not the most powerful or roomiest vehicle in its class, the CX-5 delivers an exceptional driving experience with impressive fuel economy. A long list of standard and available features further adds to the CX-5’s appeal.

You'll Like The 2018 Mazda CX-5 If...

If you’re looking for a small SUV that rides and handles like a sporty hatchback (think Mazda3), the 2018 Mazda CX-5 stands above all rivals. Excellent fuel economy from an available diesel engine further separates the CX-5 from the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape.

You May Not Like The 2018 Mazda CX-5 If...

If you’re looking for a compact SUV with a big interior and/or the ability to venture off-road, a Subaru Forester is a better choice. Diesel fans can get on a waiting list, or stop by a Chevy dealer and pick up a diesel-powered Equinox right now.

What's New

Changes for the 2018 Mazda CX-5 include the addition of cylinder deactivation for the 2.5-liter engine and more features added to each trim. The Sport gains blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection, while the Touring gets the full i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety assists (now optional on the Sport).

Interior Features

All CX-5 models have two rows of seating for up to five passengers. Like its rivals, though, trying to fit three adults in back can be a squeeze. On the other end of the spectrum, installing child seats is now easier thanks to wide-opening rear doors. Mazda’s interiors feel a class-above: From the standard push-button start and 7-inch touch-screen display with command dial down to the elegant air vents surrounded by brightwork, this is one classy cabin. With 40/20/40-split rear seats folded, cargo room maxes out at just under 60 cubic feet -- nearly 16 less than a Honda CR-V.

Exterior Features

The CX-5 has always been a fine-looking vehicle, but this latest version ups the ante to arguably the classiest in its segment. Thank the cues taken from its svelte big brother, the CX-9. Like that midsize SUV, Mazda's compact-crossover SUV begins with a prominent trapezoidal grille connected to fancy-looking -- and bright -- LED headlight slits and extends to a flowing "Kodo" design meant to invoke a "refined toughness." We think it works well. This is most true in the new Soul Red Crystal paint, a production color so deep and glossy that it'd do justice to an exotic sports car.

Driving Impressions

We’ve always considered the Mazda CX-5 to be one of the most spirited and enjoyable-driving compact-crossover SUVs money can buy. While not the quickest or most powerful in its class, the CX-5 has enough muscle to make it feel swift when accelerating from a stop or merging with fast-moving traffic. The CX-5’s beauty lies in its agility and nimbleness. If you’re the type of driver who prefers twisting back roads to vast expanses of freeway, the CX-5 is the SUV you’ll want. Feedback from the taut steering never feels too heavy or artificial, and the CX-5’s Sport mode helps deliver better response from the engine. The ride is firm, but not harsh, something to keep in mind if you prefer the softer ride of the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. Updates last year helped the suspension better absorb road imperfections without diminishing ride quality or comfort, and Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control is standard on every model.

Pricing Notes

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $25,125, including destination. The more recommendable Touring model, with its additional safety features and amenities, still offers a lot to like for $27,190. Top-line Grand Touring models begin at $30,620. Adding all-wheel drive to any model is an additional $1,300. Fully loaded, a 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring model dressed in Soul Red Crystal ($595) can reach past $34,000. At its starting price, the CX-5 is right in line with the Honda CR-V, slightly under the Toyota RAV4, and slightly above the Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue. A Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Subaru Forester also start below the CX-5. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. Historically, the CX-5's resale value has held up well, though not to the extent of the CR-V.

Notable Equipment

The 2018 CX-5 is offered in three main trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The least expensive CX-5 Sport model includes cloth seats, keyless entry with push-button start, 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, electronic parking brake, the Smart City Brake Support active-safety system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rearview camera. The base infotainment system includes a 7-inch touch screen with 4-speaker AM/FM/HD Radio, twin USB inputs and an auxiliary port. To date Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not in the offing, but Mazda says the systems can be retroactively added later.

Notable Options

For less than $2,000 more, we recommend the mid-trim CX-5 Touring model, which replaces the base model's 6-way-manual driver's seat with a power-adjustable one and adds Leatherette, plus heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, two rear USB charging ports, rear privacy glass, auto-leveling headlights and the full i-ACTIVSENSE safety suite including adaptive cruise control, Smart Brake Support, lane-departure warning and assist, auto high beams and rain-sensing wipers. Grand Touring models add leather seating, 10-speaker Bose premium audio system and navigation. Further options include a head-up display, heated steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats.

Favorite Features


Active at speeds up to 19 mph, Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support can reduce or altogether prevent the damage incurred from a front-end collision. The system senses danger ahead and, if the driver fails to act, automatically applies the brakes. Best of all, it is standard on every 2018 CX-5.


Using sensors and a windshield-mounted camera to read the painted lane lines, this system helps alert the driver when the car is drifting from its lane. A low-pitched audible warning alerts the driver and if no action is taken, the system will gently pull the car back into its lane.

Under the Hood

To date, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 comes to showrooms with just one engine, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Skyactiv gasoline powerplant with cylinder deactivation. Tied to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the engine is neither the most powerful nor most efficient in its class, but it puts up respectable numbers, especially in fuel economy of up to 31 mpg. The standard setup is front-wheel drive (FWD), with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. The CX-5 is rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds. After years in the making, Mazda says it will finally bring a diesel CX-5 to the U.S. market. The diesel model is set to use a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder that is touted for its torque and fuel efficiency. Stay tuned for our impressions on that one.

2.5-liter inline-4

187 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

186 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm (4,000 rpm for AWD models)

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/31 mpg (FWD), 24/30 mpg (AWD)

Editors' Notes

Among the vast field of compact-crossover SUVs roaming the freeways, there’s one that offers an exceptional combination of styling, economy and sports-car-like driving dynamics. It’s the 2018 Mazda CX-5, and if you’re shopping this segment it’s an SUV you’ll definitely want to test-drive. From its sleek styling to its handsome interior, the CX-5 feels far more premium than its $25,000 asking price might suggest. There’s a new diesel model coming this year, as well as an advanced gasoline engine with cylinder deactivation, a first for a 4-cylinder car in North America. And of course, there’s the CX-5 generous equipment roster that includes such amenities as a Bose audio system, a power tailgate and a full suite of driver-safety and collision-avoidance systems.

Road Test Video Reviews

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Owner Reviews


149 Reviews

74% 23% 3% 2 star 0% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

New Mazda CX-5, Better than most!

My first new vehicle and I love it! I mean let's be real, any new car is nice and we are spoiled so there are a few things I've noticed. The a/c works good but with only 3,000 miles on the car sometimes it feels like it doesn't blow as cold as most times so I turn the knob to the heat setting and turn it back and it goes cold again. The radio works however if you turn the station there is a noise glitch that it makes before hearing it normal on any station that's chosen.

- Deena G

My lights follow the curved roads.

I love all the safety features on my car especially the lane assist and backup camera. The headlights are also very bright and actually move when you are driving on a curved road. The leather seats are not as comfortable as the regular seats, but I do really like the seat warmers and that you can electronically adjust the set position. I also live the way my car looks and the pearly white paint soaked in the sunlight.

- Gail R

It has the Driver Assist for lanes, breaking and cars beside you.

I was looking for a quieter car and found this in my price range. Mileage is not bad for city driving (I drive very short distances) at approximately 21.5. I like the in dash navigation. About the only thing so far I don't care for is the amount of sun/heat through the clear windows let in, so in turn it takes a bit longer than I thought it would to cool down. Otherwise so far it has been a good car.

- Michele P