Mazda CX-5: The Pioneer of Sporty Japanese SUVs (Used Buying Guide)

Launched in 2012, the first generation Mazda CX-5 (codenamed KE) was the first sport utility vehicle (SUV) from Japan that revolutionized the segment. SUVs have always been people or luggage carriers, with tall and boxy designs like earlier generations of the Honda CR-V, which can look mundane to some. However, the Mazda CX-5 changed this by incorporating Mazda’s Kodo Design – which roughly translates to “Soul of Motion”.

Mazda’s Kodo Design utilizes common Japanese aesthetic elements – with single, flowing lines to create a dynamic look. As a result, the designs are more pure and refined making the CX-5 look like a calligraphy artwork.

Brief Recap of Prices

Mazda CX-5 Pre-facelift
Variants Engine Power Output Price
Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD Mid Spec 2.0-liter direct injection (153 HP, 200 Nm) RM136,943
Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD High Spec 2.0-liter direct injection (153 HP, 200 Nm) RM144,125
Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 4WD High Spec 2.0-liter direct injection (152 HP, 198 Nm) RM154,385
Mazda CX-5 Post-facelift
Variants Engine Power Output Price
Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD GL (Mid Range) 2.0-liter direct injection (153 HP, 200 Nm) RM132,272
Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD GLS 2.0-liter direct injection (153 HP, 200 Nm) RM147,658
Mazda CX-5 2.5 SkyActiv-G 2WD GLS 2.5-liter direct injection (184 HP, 250 Nm) RM159,415
Mazda CX-5 2.2 SkyActiv-D 2WD 2.2-liter twin-turbo diesel engine (173 HP, 420 Nm) RM161,529
Mazda CX-5 2.5 SkyActiv-G 4WD GLS 2.5-liter direct injection (184 HP, 250 Nm) RM171,219

used mazda cx-5 pre- vs post-facelift

Mazda CX-5 pre- and post-facelift exterior comparison

mazda cx-5 pre vs post-facelift interior

Mazda CX-5 pre- and post-facelift interior comparison

Quick Run-down on Mazda CX-5 Specs

The Mazda CX-5 came with three engines, a 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G direct injection petrol engine, a 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G direct injection petrol engine, and last but not least a 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D twin-turbo diesel. All models were paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and were available with either a 2WD (two-wheel drive) and a 4WD (four-wheel drive). The 2WD powers the front wheels whereas the 4WD powers all four wheels. 

As standard, all Mazda CX-5 came with automatic headlights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, powered seats for the driver, cruise control, and keyless entry [except for pre-facelift Mid Spec and post-facelift GL (Mid Spec) variant] with push-start button. The post-facelift GL variant also did not get the powered seats for the driver.

Safety wise, all variants came with six airbags, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist (BA), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Traction Control System (TCS), and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). All variants also came with a Tire Pressure Monitor (TPM) system as it is fundamental to keep track of your tires’ condition.

Here’s a detailed explanation of what these safety features mean:

  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – prevent the tires from locking up and skidding when sudden braking. It allows the driver to steer the car to safety.
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Traction Control System (TCS) – help prevent the car from losing control and help the driver to regain control of the car. They also reduce the risk of a rollover (when the car overturns).

Moreover, all CX-5 received six speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, reverse camera, tire inflator and first aid kit. The facelifted Mazda CX-5 was thoroughly updated inside and out. On the inside, the post-facelift CX-5 was given an all-new infotainment system (known as MZD Connect). It can be controlled via touch input or via the Multimedia Commander knob located at the center console next to the electronic parking brake, which is also new (pre-facelift was a mechanical handbrake lever) – this frees up space for a longer center armrest. 

Nonetheless, the CX-5 GL variant did not get MZD Connect or the electronic parking brake. The soundproofing was also improved in the post-facelift CX-5, which was lacking in the pre-facelift models.

mazda cx-5 center console

Mazda CX-5 center console (Post-facelift shown here)

mazda cx-5 pre vs post-facelift infotainment

Mazda CX-5 pre- and post-facelift infotainment system comparison

Do note, however, when the Mazda CX-5 was first launched in the CBU (Complete Built-Up) form, it came with a sunroof, 9-speaker Bose sound system, and larger 19-inch rims. After the locally assembled units were launched, only the 2.5-liter CX-5 came with 19-inch rims, while the 2.0-liter variant received 17-inch rims. With that being said, the CBU units were sold for less than a year making them quite rare. 

On the outside, the post-facelift Mazda CX-5 was given an updated look on the front and rear with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), LED headlights, and LED taillights for better visibility on the road. On the other hand, the 2.0-liter GL (Mid Range) variant did not get these updates. In fact, the CX-5 GL variant received fabric seats instead of leather ones.

Recap of Mazda CX-5 Used Car Prices

YEAR MODEL MILEAGE (~) PRICE (~)
2013 Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD High Spec 109,648 KM RM62,400
2016 Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD GLS 108,096 KM RM83,600
2016 Mazda CX-5 2.5 SkyActiv-G 4WD GLS 42,913 KM RM89,900

A Fair Price to Pay

From our website, the price for a used Mazda CX-5 ranges from RM62,000 to RM90,000 depending on the year, variant, condition, and mileage of the car. A fair price to pay would be around RM83,600 as that can get you a facelifted 2016 Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD GLS with a mileage of 108,096 KM. With a 10-percent down payment, you’re looking to pay an estimated sum of RM916 per month for nine years.

Alternatively, if that is out of your budget, then take a look at the pre-facelift 2013 Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD High Spec for RM62,400 with a mileage of 109,648 KM. With similar loan calculations, you’re looking to pay an estimated sum of RM684 per month. For all intents and purposes, the pre- and post-facelift CX-5 drives the same, so you’ll be getting a similar driving experience with either option.

Nonetheless, if you want more power and larger rims then take a look at the facelifted 2016 Mazda CX-5 2.5 SkyActiv-G 4WD GLS. Again, with a 10-percent down payment, the estimated monthly installment is RM985 per month.

Which Mazda CX-5 Model to Buy?

I would recommend the post-facelift Mazda CX-5 2.0 SkyActiv-G 2WD GLS as I personally drive the 2.0-liter model and it is safe to say that the car is well-equipped even for today’s standards. You get leather seats, Bluetooth with hands-free connectivity, automatic headlights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and a reverse camera

Most importantly, the 2.0-liter models get the smaller 17-inch rims (which won’t hurt your pocket when it comes to replacing the tires). It has enough power for daily driving and overtaking and it is also the most fuel-efficient out of the three engines. So, you will not feel short-changed with the 2.0-liter model. 

The post-facelift CX-5 is also a better option when purchasing a used car as Mazda would have addressed some of the complaints by the pre-facelift model owners.

Pros and Cons of a Mazda CX-5

Pros Cons
Comfortable ride, absorbs shocks on uneven roads with ease Doesn’t absorb shocks from deeper potholes well
Seats are comfortable with lumbar adjustments for the driver No electric seat adjustment for the front passenger
Above average handling compared to other competitors in its segment. The CX-5 can handle twisty roads at a high speed Poor sound insulation, the tire noise is quite apparent on the pre-facelift models
Premium materials used all around the interior Paint job is notoriously thin, scratches easily
Fuel efficient for its size Life expectancy of absorbers is below average
The Engine and transmission work in perfect harmony to get the car up to speed – allows easy overtaking No powered tailgate (boot lid release)
The keyless entry with push-start button is convenient when your hands are full Rattling noises in the doors as well as the dashboard

What Are the Common Problems?

The Mazda CX-5 is a fairly reliable SUV with hardly any common mechanical problems, and with regular service and maintenance, you can keep it problem-free.

Nevertheless, it is well-known that direct injection engines are more susceptible to carbon deposits and buildup. Without getting too technical, carbon deposits are the black stains (soot) you find on surfaces where combustion happens such as on barbeque grills, chimneys, and in vehicle engines. Over time, it can harden and can cause engine failures. Therefore, it is recommended to get the carbon cleaned especially when your mileage is nearing the 100,000-kilometer mark. It’s not so much a common problem but simply the nature of direct injection engines. These are machines at the end of the day and the parts do not last a lifetime.

Furthermore, many owners have followed the service guide by Mazda which provides that the gearbox oil or Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) can last a lifetime but this is not true. The ATF should be replaced every 40,000 kilometers. Again, this is not a common problem but a regular preventative maintenance.

A good rule of thumb is to replace all the fluids in a used car after collection as fluids deteriorate over time. Nonetheless, if your budget doesn’t allow it then doing a minor service when you get the car is good enough.

Other things to note are that the CX-5’s paint is notoriously thin and there are also rattling noises inside the cabin, which most owners are unable to find a fix for.

However, with CARSOME Certified Lab being Southeast Asia’s largest car refurbishment facility, CARSOME promises to deliver quality-assured cars that are as good as new.

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How Much to Maintain?

Maintenance Costs (~)
Road Tax RM439.20 (2.0-liter)

RM830.40 (2.5-liter)

Tires/pc (~) RM300 – RM900
Minor service (Engine oil and oil filter) [~] RM260 – RM360
Transmission fluid (gearbox oil) [~] RM222
Coolant (~) RM49/liter
Throttle body carbon cleaning (~) RM75
Hydrogen carbon cleaning (~) RM400
Brake fluid (~) RM150
Absorbers (~) RM2345 

The Mazda CX-5 Is Not the SUV You Need but the SUV You Want

With the Kodo Design in mind, the first generation Mazda CX-5 was in fact the original sporty SUV from Japan. It doesn’t have the largest interior space, not the most comfortable, and it certainly does not have the largest boot capacity. Nonetheless, these drawbacks are not dealbreakers to those who are already considering the CX-5. If you are haven’t looked at the Mazda CX-5 as one of your options, it is worth shortlisting as it provides all the practical qualities of an SUV while retaining the “sport” in an SUV.

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Check out our CARSOME Certified Mazda CX-5 here.

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