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.