When it comes to fun-to-drive compact crossovers, it’s hard to beat what the 2020 Mazda CX-5 has to offer. While some small SUVs tout good fuel economy or a versatile interior, the CX-5 lays claim to these attributes while serving up a healthy dose of performance, styling and interior luxury. A turbocharged engine option puts the CX-5 at the top of the horsepower charts, and Mazda will finally have a diesel engine model out later this year.
With its turbocharged engine, the 2020 CX-5 offers hope to those mourning the loss of the turbocharged Subaru Forester XT, and it fills in the tech gap by offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Despite a taut suspension and responsive handling, the CX-5’s ride isn’t harsh or jarring, giving it a leg up on many competitors, such as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV. However, unlike the Subaru Forester, the Toyota RAV4 and the Jeep Cherokee, the CX-5 isn’t designed for off-road adventure, meaning that this urban SUV is pretty much confined to tackling dry pavement, snow covered roads and modest dirt paths.
What’s New for 2020?
For 2020, the CX-5 gets Mazda’s full suite of i-ACTIversusENSE driver assists as standard equipment, while the turbocharged all-wheel-drive models gain increased torque and off-road traction assist. See the 2020 Mazda CX-5 models for sale near you
What We Like
- Beautiful interior
- Smooth ride
- Excellent handling
- Sophisticated AWD setup
- Turbocharged engine
- Reasonably priced
What We Don’t
- Dash-mounted touchscreen only operates when the car is stopped
- Antiquated navigation
- 19-inch wheels create a firm ride
- Heated mirrors only offered on most expensive trims.
Standard on the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is Mazda’s 2.5-liter SKYACTIV direct-injection gasoline inline 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation, mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The hp is a respectable 187, with 186 lb-ft of torque. For front-wheel-drive models, the Environmental Protection Agency gives the CX-5 a rating of 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Models equipped with AWD earn a slightly lower rating of 24 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.
Optional is a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine good for 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine requires premium fuel, and using regular drops the hp to 227. Models with the turbocharged engine come standard with AWD, with an estimated 22 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
Mazda’s CX-5 for 2020 is offered in five trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature. AWD is an option for the first three trims and standard on the last two.
The CX-5 Sport ($26,135 FWD; $27,535 AWD) includes power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry with push-button start, 17-in alloy wheels, cloth seating, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering column, manual air conditioning, variable wipers, LED headlights, Smart City Brake Support, G-Vectoring Control, a 6-way manual driver’s seat, an electronic parking brake, a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, a 7-in color touchscreen with 4-speaker audio, Mazda Connect with voice activation, a rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and two front USB ports. Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and Advanced Smart Brake Support with collision warning. Navigation can be added for an additional $400.
The CX-5 Touring ($27,775 FWD; $29,175 AWD) adds a 6-way power driver’s seat, leatherette seating with suede inserts, automatic on/off headlights, heated front seats, rear privacy glass, auto-leveling headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, an additional two speakers for the audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Mazda Advanced Key proximity keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear-seat vents, a rear-seat center armrest, reclining rear seats and rear-seat USB ports. Optional on the Touring is the Preferred Equipment package, which includes a 10-speaker Bose CenterPoint 2 audio system, a power moonroof, a power lift gate and an auto-dimming mirror with Homelink.
The CX-5 Grand Touring ($31,255 FWD; $32,655 AWD) adds the Touring’s optional packages plus leather seating surfaces, 19-in alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, a 6-way power passenger seat, rain-sensing wipers, heated exterior mirrors, adaptive headlights and LED fog lights and taillights.
The optional Grand Touring Premium Package adds a head-up display with traffic-sign recognition, driver’s-seat memory, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve ($36,100) adds the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, AWD, power-folding side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and Active Driving Display with traffic-sign recognition.
The CX-5 Signature ($37,935) adds unique 19-in wheels, front and rear footwell illumination, Caturra Brown Nappa leather seating, real wood trim, LED interior lighting, 360-degree monitor and front and rear parking sensors.
The 2020 CX-5 comes with the standard complement of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, electronic traction, stability control and six airbags, including front-seat side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Standard Smart City Brake Support can sense an impending collision (at speeds of up to 19 miles per hour) and prepare the brakes for faster activation. The system emits an audible alert and will even apply the brakes if the driver fails to take action. A number of active safety features are also included, such as autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.
In crash tests, both the government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CX-5 excellent scores, with a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.
Behind the Wheel
We always enter a Mazda vehicle expecting a superior driving experience, and the CX-5 does not disappoint. The moderate engine output feels balanced with the crossover’s intended use. It’s not a rocket ship off the line, but the CX-5 is sprightly and eager to romp. The traditional 6-speed automatic transmission keeps the engine in the power band without droning (as we sometimes complain about with continuously variable automatic transmissions), and the CX-5 cruises comfortably at freeway speeds. If you want greater speed, spring for the 2.5-liter turbocharged models, which deliver excellent performance with minimal damage to fuel economy figures.
The CX-5 has always been one of the best-handling crossovers in its class, and the 2020 model offers subtle improvements. The front suspension is handled by independent MacPherson struts, while the rear suspension is an independent multi-link setup. Stabilizer bars are fitted to both the front and rear assemblies. AWD vehicles benefit from Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control — a sophisticated system that sends power to the outside rear wheel during cornering, which has the effect of sharpening response. The well-tuned electric power steering has good feel that’s pleasantly heavy at speed and light in parking lots. Mazda claims chassis rigidity has been improved by 15% over the first-generation car, which translates to a quieter ride and less body roll. The CX-5’s low stance and taut suspension show their stuff when the road twists, and it’s a pleasure to drive around town. Great outward visibility in all directions and a higher-than-sedan driving position validate the crossover choice.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Kia Sportage — The Sportage offers equally handsome styling, features and safety equipment, with options for adding a turbocharged engine, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-5, however, offers a bit more room, as well as superior ride and handling.
2020 Honda CR-V –The CR-V has more interior room, a larger cargo hold and gets better gas mileage. But the CX-5 can tow more weight (2,000 pounds vs 1,500), has a more upscale interior and more luxury options.
2020 Ford Escape — The Escape is all new this year, with a larger interior, more engine options — including a hybrid — and more features. However, it’s too new to know about long-term reliability or resale yet.
Used Subaru Outback — A 2014 to 2018 Subaru Outback will give you more room, superior off-road ability, better ground clearance and a number of driver assists, including the excellent EyeSight system. The Outback also gets slightly better fuel economy.
We think the best value is the Touring trim with the optional Preferred Equipment package. This version gives you everything you’ll need for both comfort and safety. We also feel the CX-5’s ride is much better with the 17-in wheels. Find a Mazda CX-5 for sale