2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active review

It’s an oldie these days, but the ever-popular Mazda CX-5 is still a goodie in many respects. We dive into a mid-spec, all-wheel-drive example to see how Mazda’s medium-sized SUV is wearing the years.

2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active

Age is often like kryptonite to car sales. As a model begins to age, and becomes inevitably joined by newer and flashier competition in the segment, sales figures tend to soften

Considering most new cars these days are replaced before they reach the eight-year mark, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 fits the definition of long in the tooth after six-and-a-half years on sale in Australia.

However, sales haven’t slid into oblivion. Instead, the Mazda CX-5 continues to outsell some fresh-faced competition like the Nissan X-Trail, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson among others.

Only the dominant Toyota RAV4 has managed to outsell the Mazda so far in 2023, with the CX-5 being the second most popular choice in the medium-sized SUV category.

What’s the secret sauce here? Is the CX-5 still worth consideration in comparison to the many other excellent options in the segment? Let’s have a closer look.

How much does the Mazda CX-5 cost in Australia?

While there are more expensive Akera, GT and SP specification levels to consider, this Touring Active spec still delivers a good level of kit for the asking price. Over the cheaper Maxx Sport, we’ve got power-folding mirrors, Black Maztec (synthetic leather) seating materials, advanced keyless entry, front parking sensors, wireless charging pad, and a reversible cargo floorboard.

This comes on top of the 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and paddle-shift gear controls, along with USB power and additional storage in the second row.

Extra standard kit (which is included across the range) covers a 10.25-inch infotainment display, 7.0-inch multifunction display, head-up display, tyre pressure monitoring, and the full suite of advanced safety technology.

Priced from $44,600 before on-road costs, the Touring Active grade is only available with all-wheel drive (unlike the Maxx and Maxx Sport with the availability of front-wheel drive), while going up another rung in the ladder will see you in a GT SP specification for $49,910 plus on-road costs. One rung down, the CX-5 Touring AWD costs $300 less, while the Maxx Sport AWD specification is $42,410 ($2190 less).

While we’re testing the 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol powertrain here, the Touring Active is also optionally available with a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine from $47,600 plus on-road costs.

Key details2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active
Price$44,600 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carJet Black
Price as tested$44,600 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price$49,276 (Sydney)
RivalsNissan X-Trail | Kia Sportage | Toyota RAV4

How much space does the Mazda CX-5 have inside?

With just under 4.6 metres of overall length, the Mazda CX-5 is starting to be a little dwarfed by some of the newer-generation entrants into the medium-sized SUV segment. Just like most other segments (and Australian waistlines, apparently), things are getting progressively bigger.

For example, a new Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail are a little bit longer than the CX-5. And anecdotally, there is a little bit of extra legroom available in the second row of these newer competitors.

However, the CX-5 isn’t left wanting in this regard. We shoved two big forward-facing baby seats (and the increasingly larger kids) and found enough space in there even for a weekend away to see the family a few hours up north.

Up front, the multifunction display in front of the driver looks clean and classy, including a big digital speedometer for everyday usage, but only a set group of display functions with little in the way of customisation.

The air vents on the dashboard are an eye-catching bright green, which is not dissimilar to the Kinetic Yellow you find on a Suzuki Jimny. This colour is repeated on the seats (as well as on the grille), but I’m not particularly sure why.

Overall, the build quality of the CX-5 feels quite nice. The steering wheel feels great in the hand, and there are some soft-touch materials about the place to help elevate the experience a little.

Having a head-up display is a nice touch in this specification, and power outlets are well catered for as well. This includes two USB-C points, a wireless charging pad, and two 12V outlets.

Your regular two cupholders are found in the middle and some well-sized storage bins in the doors.

Seating in this specification is on the regular side of things, with manual adjustment only available. They are comfortable and well dialled for long-distance driving. The mixed materials are nice, and help to elevate that experience a little. Except for, perhaps, that strange addition of green colours.

In the back of the CX-5, you’ve got enough space for reasonably sized adults front and rear, or a young family. There are air vents in the back here and seat comfort is good, but you do miss out on power outlets on the centre console.

In terms of rear seat storage, the fold-down centre armrest hides two cupholders, as well as a small lidded storage area. There are also two 2.1-amp USB-A power outlets in there, which is quite a handy addition (provided you’re not going five-up).

The boot of the CX-5 – which is 438 litres in size – isn’t near the biggest in the segment. Some of the bigger options getting around in this regard have numbers starting with a five, for example.

However, I’d classify the size of the boot as being good enough for most uses, without feeling overly commodious.

2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active
Boot volume438L seats up
1340L seats folded

Does the Mazda CX-5 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Despite being a decent 10.25 inches in size, the infotainment system in the Mazda CX-5 is a bit of a let-down, and the clearest indication of the age of the vehicle in comparison to new models.

Despite gaining a bigger display, and Mazda’s newer-generation infotainment software, there are still some lingering bugbears. For all intents and purposes, it does the job it needs to do. It has digital radio, native navigation and a decent six-speaker sound system.

However, some fresher-faced offerings in the segment show how different and new things have become in this regard, with a bit more wow factor when you step into the cabin.

Our tester was missing Android Auto functionality, something especially evident for me considering that’s my habitat. According to Mazda this technology will be coming through on vehicles around about now. So if you’re buying, I’d double-check this will be included (cars shipped without can be updated).

However, there is Apple CarPlay connectivity, which is wired and did work well for somebody else’s compatible phone.

The infotainment system isn’t a touchscreen, so you instead use the multifunction rotary clickwheel and buttons down behind the gear shifter for moving around the system. It works okay once you get your head around things, but I still maintain that a touchscreen is preferable for ease of use.

Is the Mazda CX-5 a safe car?

In keeping with the age of the current-generation Mazda CX-5 platform, the five-star ANCAP safety rating also goes back to 2017. These tests are not as arduous as current testing protocols in 2023, but the results for this CX-5 are still good with five stars.

Adult occupants get a 95 per cent protection rating, while child occupants get an 80 per cent figure. Pedestrian protection rates at 78 per cent, while the safety assistance systems come in relatively low at 59 per cent, and let down by a zero for lane support systems.

And since crash ratings have an expiry date, the CX-5 will go without a crash rating at the end of 2023. It’s worth noting here that the car doesn’t become less safe, but because crash testing and evaluation is constantly evolving, ratings nowadays don’t last forever.

2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active
ANCAP ratingFive stars (tested 2017)
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report

What safety technology does the Mazda CX-5 have?

Despite the passing of the years, the Mazda CX-5 maintains a good level of active safety technology for 2023. This includes all of the usual suspects like forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (both forward and reverse), driver attention alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assistance, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, and parking sensors front and rear.

There are six airbags, which includes curtain airbags that cover the second row, and tyre pressure monitoring is helpful for slow leaks and punctures.

For mounting up baby seats, there are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether points to choose from.

How much does the Mazda CX-5 cost to maintain?

Mazda’s capped-price servicing schedule keeps a lid on your maintenance costs, but it’s not the cheapest offering in this regard. Three years of servicing works out to be $419 per year on average, while five years works out to be only slightly more ($422.80 per year, on average).

Insurance costs for a CX-5 of this specification are $1562.22 based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active
WarrantyFive years, unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs$1258 (3 years)
$2114 (5 years)

Is the Mazda CX-5 fuel-efficient?

Against a claim of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, we saw a number that was a bit higher at 8.6L/100km. However, the kicker here is that we spent the majority of our time plugging on the highway (which is good for economy) while being loaded up with humans and gear (not so good for economy).

However, I’d wager a bet that driving with more of a focus on suburban and stop-start driving would see that number pump upwards, more than likely into double-figure territory.

Being a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine, this isn’t necessarily surprising. The optional turbo diesel engine will reduce consumption, but it comes at a cost. However, smaller turbocharged petrol engines and hybrids found elsewhere (as well as the base 2.0-litre engine in the CX-5 range) will beat this one for efficiency.

Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp

Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)7.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)8.6L/100km
Fuel type91-octane regular unleaded
Fuel tank size58L

What is the Mazda CX-5 like to drive?

Once driving the CX-5, you come to realise that old dogs don’t need a new trick or two. And as old as the CX-5 is, the inherent driving quality of the CX-5 will likely be appreciated by owners on the daily drive.

Most noticeably, it’s nicely dialled through the throttle and gearbox calibration, which remains smooth and easygoing in most scenarios. Perhaps it’s the combination of a six-speed automatic torque converter gearbox and 2.5-litre engine – without any turbocharging, hybrid assistance or nefarious clutch packs – that is the secret here.

The steering feel, ride quality and handling all feel bang-on as well, and are a credit to the quality of the underlying engineering of this Mazda platform. For a family car that will be running through roundabouts, over speed bumps, and the endless supply of 90-degree turns in the ‘burbs, it doesn’t really put a foot wrong.

This sentiment is further improved by the addition of all-wheel drive, which eliminates unwanted wheel spin from the front wheels and allows a sure-footed feeling from behind the wheel.

The 2.5-litre engine is nicely balanced, with enough of a sugar hit of power available for when you need it. And thankfully this engine is not struck down with the same kind of malaise that most 2.0-litre engines in this segment have of feeling overworked and underdone.

The additional torque from this increased capacity helps with the drivetrain feeling well suited to the vehicle, and chasing that 140kW in the upper rev ranges (when you need it) delivers the right amount of acceleration.

There is a sports-oriented driving mode to choose, if you’d prefer a response from the accelerator pedal with more aggressiveness through the transmission, but the regular driving mode does feel nicely balanced for most situations.

There’s also an off-road driving mode that can add in a little more capability to this suburban SUV on dirt tracks and fire trails.

Key details2023 Mazda CX-5 Touring Active
Engine2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power140kW @ 6000rpm
Torque252Nm @ 4000rpm
Drive typeOn-demand all-wheel drive
Transmission6-speed torque converter automatic
Power-to-weight ratio84.4kW/t
Weight (kerb)1659kg
Spare tyre typeSpace-saver
Tow rating1800kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle11.0m

Should I buy a Mazda CX-5?

There’s no shortage of newer, fancier and up-specced competition to choose from, but you have to give credit to the Mazda CX-5 for staying right among the top of the class in some respects. It’s a nice car to drive, and feels tailored towards those who want to feel engaged in the driving experience. The interior is well packaged and finished with materials, which feels like another crucial element to get right.

The infotainment system is falling behind the pack, however, and one doesn’t need to look far to find something cheaper to keep fuelled and well maintained.

And as key competitors in this segment continue to get bigger, you’ll also be drawn towards the higher levels of space available in other vehicles.

But those core elements of driving, ride quality and interior presentation continue to underpin the appeal of the CX-5. And after a week in one myself, I totally get it.

How do I buy a Mazda CX-5 – next steps?

Aside from those garish green vents inside, we’d hazard a guess that Touring Active could be close to the sweet spot in the all-wheel-drive CX-5 range. And while you might not be planning on anything other than manicured bitumen roads, adding all-wheel drive does have benefits for a daily driving suburban battler.

Currently, Mazda Australia is reporting strong levels of supply across its range of models, including the popular CX-5. This means depending on specific dealer stock, buyers should be able to find something in a trim level and colour they want either in the country already or on its way.

The next steps on the purchase journey are to check the Mazda website for stock of your preferred CX-5 variant. You can also find Mazdas for sale at

Good news for medium-sized SUV buyers is that it’s one of the most popular segments in Australia for both buyers and carmakers alike. That means there is plenty of new and good metal to consider, with options like the Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Kia Sportage and Mitsubishi Outlander (among many others) more than worthy of consideration.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to the CX-5 range since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

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