We’ve been fans of the Mazda CX-5 since we first tested it in 2012. A mid-life update has rounded off a couple of rough edges and made the CX-5 into a really superb tow car.

Road and wind noise used to be excessive, but the Mazda is now a quieter car to travel in. The handbrake struggled to hold the car and caravan still when we tested the CX-5 in 2012, but now there’s an electronic parking brake and no worries about the car and caravan rolling backwards.

Other changes build on strengths rather than fix flaws. The CX-5 was already a stable tow car, but now it’s even better. It’s completely settled at 60mph, and very nearly as comfortable at 70mph. Even crosswinds don’t seem to upset the CX-5.

Tall SUVs can struggle in the lane-change test, but not the Mazda. Even when thrown around on the third and fastest run, the CX-5 took the punishment and felt like it could cope with more.

The engine has always been one of the Mazda’s strengths. The 2.2-litre engine has 173bhp and 310lb ft of torque. That’s serious muscle. Towing from 30-60mph, as you might when joining the motorway, took 12.8 seconds. You could argue that the lower-powered version of the CX-5 is even better for day-to-day driving, but if you regularly tow a mid-sized caravan you’ll be glad of the 173bhp engine’s extra poke.

In everyday driving, the CX-5 is just as much fun as it has always been, but revised suspension settings now cope better with lumps and bumps in the road. It makes the Mazda a more rounded car than it used to be.

Our practicality judges were impressed as well as the drivers. The boot is big enough to handle a full load of holiday luggage, and the reversing camera is a great help when hitching up.

A fair price and a long list of standard equipment add to the Mazda CX-5’s appeal, and strong resale values make it a sensible buy.

2019
Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners
2018
1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2017
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*

2016
1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business

2015
1400-1549kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG

2014
1400-1549kg

Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

2013
Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance

2012
1725–1899kg

Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury

2011
1425-1574kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport

2010
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS

2009
1900kg+

Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic

2008
1575-1724kg

Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto

2007
1575-1724kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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