If the middle ground is the happiest spot to occupy, then the Touring Diesel AWD is where it’s at in Mazda’s CX-5 range.
Of the vast 16-variant-strong mid-sized SUV line-up, it sits eight rungs up from the entry Maxx in hierarchy and price, if a fair wedge above its petrol-powered equivalent on account of the performance and fuel efficiency benefits the oiler format promises to bring to the package.
The Touring sits above the Maxx and Maxx Sport, if below the GT, GT SP and Akera.
It’s right to presume, then, the middleweight of Mazda’s mid-sized family hauling range brings a decent dose of goodness without unnecessary excess for those buyers not chasing it.
Fair enough. But where exactly does the Touring Diesel deliver and where does it skimp?
Is there enough gusto in the oiler all-wheel drive package to justify a three-grand stretch over the petrol alternative, or should you really be eyeballing the petrol version of the next-rung-up GT that’s a $2710 step further up the CX-5 family tree?
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Touring Diesel AWD lists for $44,280 before on-road costs, or $47,490 drive-away nationally at the time of writing.
Unlike further down the CX-5 range, where front-drive and manual gearboxes are offered, once you get to Touring level (and above) all variants fit conventional automatic transmissions and Mazda’s i-Activ on-demand all-wheel drive system.
Alternatives in the immediate family? Opting for the petrol Touring ($41,280) saves three grand, while keeping the diesel AWD format and dropping down a variant grade to the Maxx Sport ($42,490), saves just $1790.
Upgrading? The step up the GT Diesel AWD ($49,990) starts to become a fair jump with its extra $5710 investment, suggesting the Touring here on test is much closer to the Maxx Sport in spec and equipment than it is to the more upper-crust GT.
Competition? A similar $45k budget before on-roads – and the complexity that various importers’ offers bring – affords the likes of:
- Hyundai Tucson Elite 2.0D AWD: $45,000
- Kia Sportage SX+ Diesel AWD: $44,190
- Mitsubishi Outlander LS Diesel AWD: $41,490
- Nissan X-Trail TS: $37,465
- Volkswagen Tiguan 147TDI Elegance: $52,290
All prices exclude on-road costs
With powertrain and driveline flexibility comes much wider choice, roping in the likes of Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, MG HS, Peugeot 3008, Renault Koleos, Subaru Forester, Skoda Karoq and, of course, the hugely popular Toyota RAV4 that’s topped CX-5 from first place on the medium SUV sales chart.
In typical Mazda fashion, there’s a slew of nine metallic and mica paint finishes to choose from, with three of them – Soul Red, Machine Grey and Polymetal Grey – wanting a $495 premium.
Two alternative rim styles, one in satin black and one in silver, are optional ($1743) outside the standard black 15-spoke design. A quick-release-type braked towing kit rated at up to two tonnes is offered for $1425 extra.
Mazda introduced a mild update for the MY21 range earlier in the year which we detailed here, but apart from the addition of standard fit wired Apple CarPlay and Android for the carryover 8.0-inch MZD infotainment system, there’s no news on the Touring grade.
The mid-ranger gets a decent array of standard equipment that includes:
- LED headlights with auto high-beam
- Front and rear parking sensors
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Head-up display
- Heated exterior mirrors with folding function
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Keyless entry
- Push-button start
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift
- Maztex/Gran Luxe synthetic leather/suede trim
- Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Electric park brake with auto hold function
- 8.0-inch MZD Connect touchscreen infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (wired)
- Satellite navigation
- Six-speaker audio system
- AM/FM and DAB+ radio
- Bluetooth phone/audio streaming
- Internet radio integration
- Reversing camera
- Traffic sign recognition
- Adaptive cruise control
The CX-5 range fits a fulsome suite of safety features that includes forward and reverse AEB with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, active lane-keeping, lane departure warning and auto high-beam.
The mid-sized SUV was awarded a five-star ANCAP rating in 2017. It rated at 95 per cent and 80 per cent for adult and child occupant protection respectively, with 78 per cent for pedestrian protection and 59 for safety assistance, though the range has been updated with the aforementioned lane-keeping functionality since.
Airbag coverage includes dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags. ISOFIX and top-tether child seat anchor points are catered for.
Having driven a run of Mazda SUVs lately, one observation is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the CX-5’s interior feels bit more upmarket than the more cost-conscious CX-3 and not quite as opulent as the flagship CX-9.
With added investment comes larger size, of course, but as Mazda’s ranges scale upward in price so too does the sense of premium-ness in ambience, solidity and material use.
The Touring’s fake suede and leather is bit mixed, the latter some supple if conspicuously synthetic, but the rest of the cabin has a quality vibe with ample tactility is the surfaces and touch points. The leather steering wheel is excellent, while the stitched, soft padded dash and door tops do the presentation subtle favours, though the overly grey theme is, as always, a bit too humdrum.
There’s a nice dependable feel to the switchgear and buttons, and there’s nothing overly cheap nor flimsy even if the hard and shiny plastic trim is quite conspicuous in areas.
While the driver’s instrumentation is a bit bland, it’s a quantum leap above the cheapo treatment found in the CX-3 and, with its clear head-up display, at least you get a digital speedo readout in the mid-sizer. All in all, it’s well executed and feels at least as rich as the money the Touring wants for.
While some of the MY21 CX-5 range benefitted from an upgrade to Mazda’s slicker, contemporary 10.25-inch ‘Mazda Connect’ infotainment system, the Touring grade here and variants sat below it make do with the older 8.0-inch MZD touchscreen design.
Its menu system is clunkier, sat-nav more rudimentary, and it’s generally more convoluted to use, particularly given the screen’s touch control locks out on the move for the sake of safety, though ironically in effect the console control access is laborious.
I’ve written it before – in recent 3, CX-3 and CX-9 reviews – and I’ll write it again: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as smartphone mirroring, only works successfully via a touchscreen.
Trying to navigate from one app to another via the MZD rotary console controller is a complicated and convoluted mess. From the driver’s seat, at best it’s frustrating and at worst it’s so distracting it verges on being dangerous.
Storage is decent and (unlike the CX-3) cupholders are conventional. Locating the USB ports in the console bin is a bit strange given you have to run cables along the console to the logical phone cubby under the HVAC stack.
Sure, you can store the phone in the bin itself, unless (a) you’re the front passenger and (b) you actually want to store other stuff inside the bin instead. On that, there are no obvious USB ports in row two, though there’s a charge port tucked into the fold-down centre armrest. Otherwise, you’re forced to run cables form the bin to the rear seating, if they’re not being used for the front occupants.
Second-row seating is quite good, with ample support and a decent amount of adult-friendly clearance for knees, elbows and heads.
A nice low window line, too, which will please youngster hoping to get a clear view of the outside world. If there’s a gripe, it’s that the rear bench design strongly favours the outboard positions, leaving an uncomfortable hump in the centre for the unfortunate passenger who gets lumped with it.
At 442 litres, the boot looks small on paper but in practice offers good depth and the nice square load space, which converts to 1342L with the rear seatbacks folded and if you can find somewhere convenient to stow the detachable parcel shelf scrum assembly. The full carpeting of the boot space is a nice touch.
Unlike many of the other variant grade in the CX-5 line-up, the Touring brings a choice of two engines: the naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol four outputting 140kW and 252Nm and the 2.2-litre twin-turbocharged diesel on test which brings similar peak power (140kW at 4500rpm) but ups torque to a fulsome and heady 450Nm from 2000rpm.
The rather excellent turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol four is reserved for higher-grade CX-5 variants and, if your budget permits, the oiler is the clear pick of the available Touring power units.
The vastly superior energy is one clear lure, but the other is consumption: where the available petrol version aims for a claimed combined-cycle best of 7.4L/100km, the diesel is a measurably more frugal 5.7L/100km (claimed) combined-cycle prospect. Further, the diesel’s 2000kg braked towing capacity is 200kg more favourable than the naturally-aspirated petrol.
The only driveline format for the oiler offered is the six-speed conventional automatic transmission backed by on-demand all-wheel drive, which is essentially front-drive until traction comprise brings the rear axle into play.
It is, though, a sophisticated system that uses 27 sensors to facilitate its adaptive traction smarts. The CX-5 also fits Off-Road traction assist as well as G-Vectoring Control Plus electronic chassis assistance for on-road handling benefit.
Weighing in at a hefty 1714kg, the CX-5 Touring Diesel sits on strut front and multi-link rear suspension, sat on large-sidewall 225/65 tyres fit to 17-inch rims.
The 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel is a good unit. There’s some muted chatter at low rpm but nothing like your typical dual-cab ute, with a surprisingly pleasing note under load when the engine rides its assertive torque wave from the depths of the rpm range.
It’s not quite as linear and flexible as the beaut 2.5-litre turbo petrol found further up the CX-5 range, but it really does everything from you want from a fine oiler. The auto it’s tied to mightn’t be the slickest unit on the market and its ratio count seems limited, but it doesn’t suffer any driveability foibles and is quite a clean operator.
There’s no Sport mode, per se, but this powertrain is responsive and cooperative enough that it doesn’t really warrant one in the way some petrol formats do. It’s punchy if pliant around town, and has long enough legs to make for quite the cruiser out on the open road.
Mazda’s done a good job with refinement, our test car quite the quiet operator with very little wind or tyre noise penetrating the cabin environment, with a nice sense of solidity on the road.
The narrow and tall 17-inch wheels mightn’t look as sharp as the low-profile rolling stock offered in GT and Akera, but they do bring an added sheen of comfort through minimal noise and a little more give in the ride compliance.
The ride quality is fine – no sloppy body control, plenty of give across road imperfections small and severe, a sort of middling tune that’s not remarkable in any way but is fault free, apart from the odd rear-axle thump if you attempt to negotiate speed humps too quickly.
The steering, too, is pleasant and evenly weighty, neither feeling too aloof or plying too much resistance at low speed during parking manoeuvres and U-turns.
Bar some thick A-pillars, the CX-5 is easy to see out of and judge in confined areas, and the Touring fits a particularly good reversing camera that seems to illuminate its viewpoint in darkened areas such as underground carparks.
Off-roadable? To a limited extent. Its rubber and ground clearance aren’t really up to too much of a challenge, but with the recently introduced off-road traction smarts there’s enough talent in the CX-5 package for well-graded and slippery conditions, be it the farm, campsite access or trips to the ski fields.
The CX-5 get Mazda’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty with roadside assistance for the same period.
Servicing is required every 12 months or short 10,000 kilometres. Not ideal if you’re planning on clocking up the kays and when many rivals have friendlier 15,000km intervals.
Capped-price servicing alternates between $349 and $379 for the first five visits, or $1805 in total, which could be considered expensive when you consider that covers 50,000kms against the 75,000km coverage offered with longer servicing intervals.
As one of the top ten sellers in the Aussie car market, the Mazda CX-5 remains a trusty and dependable family hauler offering enough charisma is the right places to lure a great many buyers, and enough quality in the right areas to largely justify the attention.
It is, unsurprisingly, a huge model line with lots of choice and its variants are shrewdly priced if not overly keenly.
Would we pick the diesel over the petrol Touring? Yes – but you pay extra for it and the oiler version isn’t really what we’d call a bargain but rather a fairly solid value pitch.
One thing to really consider is that the Touring is much closer in spec to the grade below, the Maxx Sport, rather than the one above, the GT.
You miss out on a lot of goodies against the walk-up to pricier CX-5 variants but, again, everything in range looks priced accordingly.
As a petrol prospect, the Touring isn’t quite as compelling as it is in diesel AWD form, where suddenly there are far fewer alternatives out there offering its balance of goodness and qualities.
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