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.

2018
Category Winners
2018 Up to 1400kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L DSG

2018 1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L Executive

2018 1550-1699kg

Peugeot 5008

2.0 BlueHDi EAT8 S&S GT

2018 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2018 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE

2018 Best Family SUV

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro

2018 Best Petrol Tow Car

Kia Stinger

2.0 T-GDi GT-Line

2018 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Volkswagen Polo

1.0 TSI 115PS SEL DSG

2018 Fuel Economy Award

Hyundai i30 Tourer

1.6 CRDi 110PS Premium

Previous Winners
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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