2020 Mazda CX-5 – The UPGRADED suv

April 15, 2020

The Mazda CX-5 has been upgraded for 2020, with the focus on enhanced off-road traction and tweaks for added refinement and safety.

Value for money

There is one thing certain about the update for the 2020 Mazda CX-5 – it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. At entry-level, the CX-5 has risen in price by just $100. And all trim levels above the bargain-basement Maxx grade have risen in price by as little as $200.

What do you get extra?

First and foremost, the all-wheel drive models are now equipped with ‘Off-Road Traction Assist’, essentially an electronic rear diff lock.

The autonomous emergency braking system – ‘Smart City Brake Support’ as Mazda calls it – has been upgraded as well (see below).

Standard equipment for the CX-5 Akera tested includes adaptive headlights, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, six-speaker audio with digital radio (DAB+) and Bluetooth.

Other standard features include power-adjustable front seats with heating/cooling, electric fold-in mirrors with a heating element, keyless entry/start, front and rear parking sensors, a sunroof, heated rear seats, powered tailgate and Nappa leather upholstery.

Interestingly, Mazda stipulates that the CX-5 Akera comes with real wood for the door and dash inserts. That’s something you don’t see in a medium SUV every day.

Crossing the road on foot at night is safer now that the 2020 Mazda CX-5 can actually recognise pedestrians in the dark.

There’s not much new in terms of safety equipment, because the CX-5 is already pretty well equipped anyway. The CX-5 Akera tested came with blind spot monitoring, driver attention alert, lane departure warning/lane keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

While that sounds about right for a medium SUV flagship, those features are also standard on even the base-grade CX-5 Maxx.

Other features that enhance safety in the CX-5 include auto high-beam headlights (LED), adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, head-up display, traffic sign recognition, rain-sensing wipers and tyre pressure monitoring.

And again, these items are also standard on the base model.

The current CX-5 was rated five stars for crash safety by ANCAP back in 2017.

A 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the Mazda CX-5 Akera tested. It’s pretty punchy, with a guttural exhaust note to go with it, but its sporty character fades away at cruising speeds – the engine spinning quietly just below 2000rpm at 100km/h.

Bolted up to the engine, the six-speed automatic is as capable as any slushbox this side of a ZF eight-speeder. The shift paddles – now standard for all automatic CX-5 variants other than the CX-5 Maxx – make sequential shifting easy when the driver demands more torque in a hurry.

One issue with the CX-5 Akera is its real-world fuel consumption. The official combined-cycle figure is 8.2L/100km, but even on a very gentle run from Tullamarine in Melbourne’s north to Chum Creek, a rural area to the east, the CX-5 was posting a figure of 8.7L/100km. That was from a mix of freeway and country roads varying between speed limits of 60 to 80km/h.

Although the CX-5 is available with a basic 2.0-litre petrol engine driving just the front wheels, the CX-5 Akera on test was an all-wheel drive. And the high point of the upgraded model is the electronic rear diff lock, which can be actuated by pressing a button on the dash.

The CX-5 impressed with its ease of use and its overall capability on boggy tracks in the Yarra Ranges east of Melbourne. Although the CX-5 did shave the crown of the ‘road’ at a couple of points, its ground clearance was better than expected.

Approach and departure angles were commendable also, but it was the diff lock that made all the difference. Not only could it be operated entirely at the driver’s whim – at the push of the button – it acquitted itself seamlessly, even in reverse gear.

On a few occasions we tried the system backing up over a slight ramp with one rear wheel clear of the ground. With the differential locked and both rear wheels turning in unison, the CX-5 could extricate itself in reverse with little difficulty.

For rear-seat passengers the CX-5 continues to deliver headroom and legroom that will accommodate adults of average size or taller, and there are adjustable vents back there too.

The seats fold in a triple-split ratio, so you can transport your partner and two kids (even ‘20something’ kids) and still poke ski poles through from the boot. In addition, the seats can be lowered independently of each other from three separate releases in the boot.

It’s been the sales champion in the medium SUV segment for years for a very good reason. It works, and it appeals to a broad percentage of the population.


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