Buyer's Guide

2021 Mazda Cx-5
Select a Different Model (12 Available): Carbon Edition AWD
Fuel Economy $ 24 / 30 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 31/60 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 5/5
Horsepower 187@6,000
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Free Price Quote From a Local Dealer


  • Fun driving dynamics
  • Excellent interior and exterior design
  • Impressive safety scores


  • Limited cargo space
  • Sometimes tricky infotainment

The CX-5 is Mazda's compact SUV, positioned above the pint-sized CX-3 and CX-30 but below the three-row CX-9. Mazda introduced the current second-generation CX-5 for 2017, and since then, the automaker added an available turbocharged engine and standard active safety tech. Although it competes against popular picks like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester, we appreciate the CX-5 as the enthusiast's pick of the bunch.

What's the difference between the CX-3, CX-30, and CX-5? Get the full scoop here.

What's New

  • New standard 10.3-inch infotainment display
  • CX-5 Carbon Edition
  • Signature trim adds rear emergency braking, driver attention alert, and upgraded 360-degree camera system

What We Think

We're fans of the CX-5, ranking it just below the excellent top-rated CR-V. Its standout design is particularly appreciated among a segment of anonymously designed people-movers, as are the CX-5's balanced driving dynamics.

Where most compact SUVs position the driving experience low on the priority list, this Mazda offers responsive steering and confident handling that make it genuinely fun to drive, even if an eager-to-intervene stability control system can sap some of said fun. We like the gutsy available turbo-four, too, which provides the CX-5 with relatively quick acceleration.

Some buyers may find themselves wishing Mazda had spent more time on packaging. The CX-5 offers significantly less cargo volume than its competitors, although rear seat space is on the generous side. Likewise, we've taken issue before with the slight learning curve tied to Mazda's infotainment system, but the newly standard 10.3-inch display is a nice touch.

Interior style is a greater strength than its functionality, and that seems to be a theme with the CX-5. It might not be the most efficient, the best performing, or be cavernous inside, but the great-driving Mazda is more likely to get you excited than most cars in its segment.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Most CX-5s work with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-pot. The base four-cylinder develops 187 hp and 186 lb-ft and, with help from a six-speed automatic, it's offered with FWD and AWD. If you opt for Grand Touring Reserve or Signature trims, you'll find a 2.5-liter turbo-four under the hood. That engine is only offered with AWD, and it generates 250 hp and 320 lb-ft.

As you'd expect, the turbocharged CX-5 is the superior performer. Whereas the standard 2.5-liter manages its sprint to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, the turbo car accomplishes the same deed in 6.1 seconds. That performance benefit comes with a slight fuel economy hit. Entry-level cars are EPA-rated at 24-25/30-31 mpg city/highway depending on drive type. Turbocharged AWD examples return 22/27 mpg.

What's With the Carbon Edition?

Mazda introduced Carbon Editions of the CX-5, CX-9 and Mazda 6 for 2021 that, though pretty cool, don't include any carbon fiber. Instead, you get a silky metallic gray paint job, black exterior accents, red leatherette upholstery, and 19-inch black alloy wheels.


The CX-5 is among the safest cars on sale. For its exceptional performance in IIHS safety testing, the CX-5 earns 2021 Top Safety Pick+ designation. It receives a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, too. Thankfully, Mazda added its suite of active safety features to all CX-5 trims last year. That means automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are all standard.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

The CX-5 seats, well, five, with 41.0 inches of legroom up front and a roomy 39.6 inches in the back seat. Cargo volume is limited compared to the CX-5's competitors. Compared to the 37.6 and 39.2 cubic feet available in the Toyota RAV4 and CR-V, respectively, the CX-5's 30.9 cubes feels a little tight. If you fold the seats down, that number grows to 59.6 cubic feet.


Replacing the 7.0- and 8.0-inch displays offered on the 2020 CX-5, all 2021 models include a 10.3-inch infotainment system updated with the current-gen Mazda user interface we've come to know in the Mazda3 and CX-30. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard even on the base model. A 10-speaker Bose premium audio system is available on the CX-5 Touring and included on Grand Touring trims and above.

Key Competitors:

Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl 2.5 Liter SKYACTIV-G®
Transmission Name
Transmission, SKYACTIV-DRIVE® 6 Speed Automatic with Manual Mode
Carbon Edition AWD
Compact Utility
Standard MPG
Body Style
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
Maintenance Warranty Months
Corrosion Warranty Months
Powertrain Warranty Miles
Full Warranty Miles
Powertrain Warranty Months
Full Warranty Months
Roadside Assistance Miles
Maintenance Warranty Miles
Roadside Assistance Months
IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$500 Mazda announces a Bonus Cash offer for active duty Military personnel. 09-30-2021
$500 Mazda announces an APR Cash offer. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 06-30-2021
$720 Mazda announces a Lease Bonus Cash offer for a Special Lease through MCS. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 06-30-2021
$0 2.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Mazda announces APR rates on select models. 06-30-2021
$0 0% Financing available for varying term lengths : 24, 36 Months - Mazda announces APR rates on select models. 06-30-2021
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 48, 63 Months - Mazda announces APR rates on select models. 06-30-2021
$360 Mazda announces a Lease Bonus Cash offer for a Special Lease through MCS. 06-30-2021