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MSRP: $24,150 - 30,945

2018 Mazda CX-5 Review

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is one of our highest-rated compact SUV class. It offers athletic handling, excellent safety scores, and an upscale cabin with plenty of room.

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent handling
  • Comfortable, supportive seats
  • Upscale interior
  • Cumbersome infotainment system

Is the Mazda CX-5 a Good SUV?

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is a great compact SUV. Mazdas are usually some of the most fun-to-drive vehicles in their respective classes. The CX-5 is no exception, boasting dynamic handling without sacrificing ride comfort. The CX-5’s stylish, well-built interior impresses with two spacious rows of comfortable seats. Its combination of quality and value made the CX-5 a finalist for our 2018 Best Compact SUV for the Money award. 

Should I Buy the Mazda CX-5?

The CX-5 is a strong contender among compact SUV, but it never hurts to look around. You may also want to consider the spacious and similarly upscale Honda CR-V, the feature-rich Toyota RAV4, or the affordably priced Hyundai Tucson.

Compare the CX-5, CR-V, and RAV4 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mazda CX-5?

The CX-5 was fully redesigned for the 2017 model year, and it sees only a couple of changes for 2018. New cylinder deactivation technology provides a bump in fuel economy of about 1-2 mpg, depending on the drivetrain. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert became standard on all trim levels as well. You’re probably better off with a used 2017 CX-5, since these features aren’t brand new for 2018, and the fuel savings are minimal.

To research complete details on some other used CX-5s, read our review of the 2017 Mazda CX-5 or of the prior-generation 2016 CX-5. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Mazda CX-5 »
We Did the Research for You: 27 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank. This 2018 Mazda CX-5 review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Mazda CX-5 Cost?

The Mazda CX-5 starts at around $24,000. That’s a little above the median price for the class, but many of the less expensive compact SUVs undercut the CX-5’s price by less than $1,500, so it’s not a very big difference. The top CX-5 trim – the Grand Touring – has a starting price closer to $30,000, which is less than the price of many rivals’ top trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

Mazda CX-5 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V?

The Honda CR-V and the CX-5 duke it out for the top spot in the class of compact SUVs. The CR-V has an appealing combination of space and family-friendly features. In fact, we named the CR-V our 2018 Best Compact SUV for Families. Both vehicles have an average price tag for the class, but there are features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available in the CR-V that you can't get in the CX-5. However, you have to pay more to upgrade from the CR-V’s very basic, non-touch infotainment display. The CX-5 beats the CR-V in overall performance, thanks to its agile handling. Still, the CR-V holds its own around corners. It’s available with a more potent turbocharged engine, while the CX-5 is not. At the end of the day, you really can't go wrong with either of these SUVs.

Which Is Better: Mazda CX-5 or Toyota RAV4?

Despite its higher predicted reliability rating, the Toyota RAV4 places lower than the CX-5 in our compact SUV rankings. You get much stronger performance and a better overall interior with the CX-5. The Toyota has a decent ride but muted handling and a drab interior. Still, the RAV4 sells better than nearly every other vehicle that isn't a pickup truck, likely because of its cavernous cargo space and wealth of standard driver assistance features. For a couple hundred dollars less, though, the CX-5 is a great value and a better choice.

Compare the CX-5, CR-V, and RAV4 »

CX-5 Interior

How Many People Does the CX-5 Seat?

The CX-5 seats five, and both rows are spacious. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and even taller adults can fit in the back without complaint. This is still a compact SUV, though, and putting three adults in the back for anything more than a brief trip is probably not going to be a comfortable proposition.

CX-5 and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The tether anchors present no issues. The lower anchors are set a bit deep in the seat but are otherwise fine. The doors open wide, making it easy to get car seats in and out.

CX-5 Interior Quality

This Mazda SUV has a classy cabin that looks and feels nicer than many rivals' interiors. It’s attractive and well-built, and it's quiet even at highway speeds.

CX-5 Cargo Space

This Mazda has so-so cargo space compared to other compact SUVs. It has about 31 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is enough room for vacation luggage or a couple of large dogs. Fold the rear seats down, and you have nearly 60 cubic feet of space, giving you the freedom to haul larger items.

CX-5 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include a four-speaker sound system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Available features include a 10-speaker Bose audio system, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, navigation, and a moonroof.

Unlike many rivals, the CX-5 doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It also has some counterintuitive control mechanisms, so it’ll take practice to master the audio settings.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

CX-5 Performance

CX-5 Engine: A Bit of a Letdown

The CX-5 has only one available engine: a 187-horsepower four-cylinder. It isn’t as exciting as the turbocharged engines offered by some rivals, but it never holds the vehicle back, and it delivers ample power and acceleration for driving around town and on the highway.

CX-5 Gas Mileage: A Strong Suit

This Mazda gets better fuel economy estimates than many compact SUVs, though it isn’t at the top of the class. It earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. With optional all-wheel drive (AWD), each of those measurements drops by 1 mpg. You’ll spend about as much on gas whether you drive the CX-5 or the Honda CR-V. However, the CX-5 will save you about $200 per year compared to the Toyota RAV4.

CX-5 Ride and Handling: A Class Leader

When it comes to handling, the CX-5 stacks up well against any compact SUV. This Mazda has precise steering and is one of the most agile SUVs in any class, making it incredibly fun to drive. The suspension smooths out roadway imperfections nicely, but some rivals have more cushioned rides.

Read more about performance »

CX-5 Reliability

Is the Mazda CX-5 Reliable?

The 2018 CX-5 has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five points from J.D. Power.

Mazda CX-5 Warranty

The Mazda CX-5 comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. These are similar to the warranty terms of many other compact SUVs.

Read more about reliability »

CX-5 Safety

CX-5 Crash Test Results

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 earned a four-out-of-five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+.

CX-5 Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features in the CX-5 include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking. Available features include lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, full-speed automatic emergency braking, and a head-up display with traffic sign recognition.

Read more about safety »

Which Mazda CX-5 Model Is Right for Me?

There are three CX-5 trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. All three come with a 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. You can add all-wheel (AWD) drive to any trim for $1,300.

While the Grand Touring trim offers some tasty features, the midlevel Touring trim is a great choice for most buyers. It’s closer to the base trim than the top trim in terms of price, but it has a lot of standard features and offers most of the technology you can get in the top trim.

Mazda CX-5 Sport

The CX-5 Sport has a base price of $24,150. Standard features include a four-speaker sound system, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and low-speed automatic braking.

You can add the Sport i-ActiveSense package ($625), which includes lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more.

Mazda CX-5 Touring

The CX-5 Touring has a starting price of $26,215. In addition to the Sport’s features, the Touring comes with leatherette upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, two additional USB ports, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

The Preferred Equipment package ($1,200) adds a 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, a moonroof, and a power liftgate.

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

The CX-5 Gran Touring’s starting price is $29,645. The Grand Touring comes with a moonroof, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, and satellite radio.

The Premium package ($1,395) adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a head-up display with traffic sign recognition.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mazda dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mazda deals page.

See 2018 Mazda CX-5 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 is an athletic and upscale SUV that has far more strengths than weaknesses. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but the CX-5 deserves its spot near the top of our class rankings, and it absolutely deserves consideration if you’re looking for a new compact SUV.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Depending on who you are, what you value, and your requirements in this kind of vehicle, the CX-5 definitely puts a smile on your face and brightens your day. Plus, it has the design, the materials, and the attention to detail that lends credibility to Mazda's premium positioning, and at a price in line with mainstream competitors." -- New York Daily News (2017)
  • "Since its 2012 debut, the Mazda CX-5 has been praised widely and consistently for its inspiring steering and confident handling, peppy and efficient four-cylinder engine, engaging exterior, and handsome interior designs. … For 2017, this excellence remains, yet myriad changes further improve the redesigned CX-5." -- Motor Trend (2017)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 9, 2018

Rising Sales: Sales of the Mazda CX-5 rank mid-pack among compact SUVs, with the best-selling Toyota RAV4 outselling the CX-5 nearly 3 to 1. However, sales of the CX-5 are up 22.5 percent in 2018 relative to the same period in 2017. While it’s not the best seller in its class, the CX-5 is far and away the most popular vehicle in Mazda showrooms. In fact, CX-5 sales account for about half of all Mazda sales so far this year.  

Research more buying advice »
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