Citroën C5 Aircross review

Category: Family SUV

The C5 Aircross family SUV is quiet, comfortable and great value for money

Blue Citroën C5 Aircross front cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross front cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear cornering
  • Kiall Garrett road testing Citroën C5 Aircross
  • Kiall Garrett loading Citroen C5 Aircross boot
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior infotainment
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross right driving
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross front cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross headlights
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross alloy wheel
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV charging socket
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear lights
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior dashboard
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior steering wheel
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior front seats
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior back seats
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross boot
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross front cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear cornering
  • Kiall Garrett road testing Citroën C5 Aircross
  • Kiall Garrett loading Citroen C5 Aircross boot
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior infotainment
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross right driving
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross front cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear cornering
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross headlights
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross alloy wheel
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV charging socket
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear lights
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior dashboard
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior steering wheel
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior front seats
  • Citroën C5 Aircross interior back seats
  • Blue Citroën C5 Aircross boot
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Citroën C5 Aircross is your archetypical Citroën. Perhaps not in terms of shape, but the brochure calls it the "Comfort class SUV", and it certainly has the French brand’s famously supple ride.

Plus, this family SUV's quirky looks could only really come from a company that arguably knows more than any other car maker about avant-garde design. 

Citroën has given the C5 Aircross pedigree DNA too. Under its skin you’ll find engines and mechanicals that are shared with the Peugeot 5008 – and that's one of our favourite seven-seaters.

Now, the C5 Aircross is only available with five seats, but it does get the same petrol and diesel options as the 5008, along with a plug-in hybrid. It also tempts buyers with a price that helps it compete at the more affordable end of the class, vying with, among others, the Dacia Jogger, Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5 and MG HS.

So, you already know how many seats it has, that it offers a smooth ride and that you won't need a second mortgage to buy one – but what about everything else? That’s what we’ll tell you in this Citroën C5 Aircross review.

Overview

Majoring on comfort and refinement, the Citroën C5 Aircross is a great-value family SUV, especially if you stick to the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine and Plus trim. It has lots of strengths, but if you want a plush interior, agile handling or seven seats, take a look at the closely-related Peugeot 5008 instead.

  • Mostly a super-smooth ride
  • Quiet inside at speed
  • Frugal engines
  • Wallowy handling
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Rear leg room tight for the class
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

If you want to keep costs to a minimum, the 129bhp 1.2 Puretech 130 petrol engine is a solid choice for the Citroën C5 Aircross. It’s our pick of the range, pulling better from low revs than the Mazda CX-5 Skyactiv and getting you up to motorway speeds with ease. You can have the same engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system, which boosts efficiency but costs lots more.

If you want more shove or intend to tow a caravan, the 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel is a better bet. It's no quicker pulling away from traffic lights than the 1.2 Puretech 130, but because it has more low-down oomph, it doesn’t require revving as hard and feels far more relaxed in the process.

Those after efficiency will want to consider the plug-in hybrid (PHEV). With 222bhp, it’s the most powerful engine in the C5 Aircross line-up, and it's also the smoothest. The 13.2kWh battery and electric motor remove any hesitation as you pull away. Better still, the official all-electric range of up to 41 miles can potentially reduce emissions and running costs.

Suspension and ride comfort

Citroën makes some bold claims about the comfort of the C5 Aircross, so are they justified? Well, yes. This is a pillowy soft family SUV that wafts over most surfaces without the fidget you’ll experience in a Ford Kuga or CX-5.

It's not perfect though. You see, while the C5 Aircross is one of the calmest and most cosseting SUVs for the money on A-roads and motorways, it often thuds over sharp imperfections and gently sways as you drive over undulations. If you prefer something that's a bit better tied down, we suggest trying the Peugeot 5008.

Citroën C5 AIRCROSS image
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The weightier PHEV version requires a slightly firmer set-up, but it’s still softer than most rivals. If anything, that added firmness helps to limit the floatiness felt in the non-hybrid versions.

Blue Citroën C5 Aircross rear cornering

Handling

Unsurprisingly given its soft suspension, the C5 Aircross would rather you didn’t drive it quickly on a twisty road. It grips well enough and is far from alarming at normal speeds, but it’s rather wallowy, leaning over in bends far more than even seven-seat SUVs including the Seat Tarraco and the VW Tiguan Allspace

Due to the C5 Aircross’s lack of agility, you won’t really notice that the heavier PHEV version is actually a bit worse, making it even less keen on a winding road. If you want something entertaining when things get twisty, we’d advise looking at the CX-5 or a PHEV Kuga.

If the wallowy handling doesn’t put you off driving briskly, the steering will. It’s light and fine around town, but offers little sense of connection to the front wheels on faster A and B roads. Selecting Sport mode does help to reduce that, adding a little more resistance to the steering wheel, but you still won’t really know what the front wheels are up to.

Noise and vibration

The three-cylinder Puretech 130 is a smooth operator. It only becomes vocal when it's worked hard, and even then it’s no worse than the MG HS and far more subdued than the equivalent Mazda CX-5.

The Blue HDi 130 diesel is rowdier but perfectly acceptable, while the PHEV is near-silent in electric mode. It's pretty muted when the engine kicks in but does have a slightly coarse edge at higher revs, with vibrations you can feel through the steering wheel thrown in for good measure. 

The standard six-speed manual gearbox that comes with the Puretech 130 has a light clutch pedal but can feel rather vague – the CX-5 has a much more precise and satisfying gearshift action.

Meanwhile, the automatic gearboxes (eight-speed in the Blue HDi and PHEV or six-speed in the Hybrid) shift through the gears smoothly enough but can be a little hesitant when you want a burst of power.

"The C5 Aircross is very quiet when cruising at 70mph, and is enjoyable and comfortable to drive on motorways." – Kiall Garrett, Senior Videographer

Driving overview 

Strengths Comfortable ride; refined engines; decent gearboxes

Weaknesses Rivals handle better; numb steering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The chances are that most people will love the driving position in the Citroën C5 Aircross. The pedals, steering wheel and seat line up well, so you're not sitting skewed while driving, and the armrests are generous and perfectly placed (there's one on the door and a large one in the centre).

The driver's seat doesn't have a lot of bolstering to hold you through bends, but it's fabulous to sit on for a long motorway jaunt. It's soft like a favourite armchair while still offering support in all the key places, and can be adjusted for height and lumbar support in every trim. Top-spec ë-series trim has an electrically adjustable driver's seat, but lumbar adjustment is still manual. The steering wheel has loads of height and reach adjustment too.

A 12.3in digital instrument panel is fitted as standard and, while some controls around the dashboard fall easily to hand, the C5 Aircross doesn’t have physical controls to adjust the climate control temperature. Like in the Peugeot 5008, you have to delve into the infotainment touchscreen, which is a bit of a distraction when you're driving.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

You sit high up in the Citroën C5 Aircross. Combined with the fairly narrow windscreen pillars, that means you get a good view of the road ahead. Unfortunately, the car's quirky styling means there are small side windows and wide pillars at the back, making it trickier to reverse than in the Peugeot 5008.

Despite that, you shouldn’t struggle when it comes to parking, thanks to all versions of the C5 Aircross coming with front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera as standard.

The good news continues at night time and in poor visibility, with all trim levels including bright automatic LED headlights and automatic front windscreen wipers on their standard equipment lists.

Kiall Garrett road testing Citroën C5 Aircross

Sat nav and infotainment

Regardless of which trim level you go for, the C5 Aircross spoils you when it comes to infotainment. All versions have a 10in touchscreen infotainment system that’s mounted high on the dashboard and includes DAB radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, and built-in sat nav (with a one-year subscription to live traffic and speed camera services).

A mid-life facelift introduced updated infotainment graphics, making the screen much sharper and easier to read than the previous version. The problem is that you operate the system using fiddly touch-sensitive buttons and the touchscreen. That’s far more distracting than using the physical controller you get in the Mazda CX-5 and the (much more expensive) BMW X3.

Things aren’t helped by the fact that the infotainment system has lots of sub-menus and can start to lag if you tap around too quickly, which is frustrating when you’re trying to quickly add a destination to the sat-nav or make speedy adjustments to the climate control.

Quality

The C5 Aircross's interior has plenty of showroom appeal, thanks to soft-touch materials in all the right places and a leather-look dashboard and steering wheel. 

In contrast, you’ll find gloss-black trims around the air vents and centre console, which lift things further, and you’ll have to search around if you want to find any scratchy plastics.

"It’s still not quite as plush as the Mazda CX-5, but it’s impressive for the price and the C5 Aircross just has the edge over the MG HS." – Kiall Garrett, Senior Videographer

Interior overview 

Strengths Quality feeling interior; good driving position 

Weaknesses Fiddly infotainment system; seats could do with more support

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

You get more leg room in the front of the Citroën C5 Aircross than in the Mazda CX-5, but head room isn’t quite as generous, especially if the panoramic sunroof is fitted (optional with Max trim and standard on ë-Series).

Indeed, while there’s enough for a six-footer to fit in with a little space above their head, the CX-5 and the MG HS offer more.

Between the seats there are a couple of cupholders that will each take a large coffee with ease, and there are plenty of storage spaces dotted around. One of the biggest is under the front centre armrest – you can literally stick your whole arm into it because it's so deep. And that's good, because the glovebox is tiny.

Rear space

If you’re likely to have adult back-seat passengers regularly, you’ll want to avoid the panoramic sunroof because it reduces rear head room to the point that six-footers will find their heads grazing the roof lining. Middle-seat passengers don’t have the same issue, actually gaining head room with a panoramic roof fitted.

It’s much the same story when it comes to rear leg room, with the C5 Aircross proving passable rather than generous. What does that mean? Well, while six-footers will have enough room to sit fairly comfortably in the seats, they’ll find that knee room is tight and there isn’t all that much space going spare.

Buyers who want a bigger car should look at the Dacia Jogger or the closely related (but more expensive) Peugeot 5008. Those two rivals offer more interior space in general and also have two extra seats at the back.

Kiall Garrett loading Citroen C5 Aircross boot

Seat folding and flexibility

This is where the C5 Aircross really excels. All models – including the PHEV – come with 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats that are identical in size and can be slid back and forth independently of one another.

That makes it really versatile, allowing you to choose from several set-up combinations that prioritise either boot space or rear passenger space. It gives you far more flexibility than the 60/40 split seats in a Ford Kuga or Skoda Kodiaq.

No matter which trim you go for, the front passenger seat has basic manual adjustments, including for height and lumbar support.

Boot space

We were able to fit nine carry-on cases below the parcel shelf of the C5 Aircross, and that’s a very competitive tally for the class, although it's equalled by the Kodiaq. If you need even more space, we’d point you towards the Peugeot 5008.

The large tailgate means you also get a large boot aperture and low loading height, which makes getting bulky items in and out easy. There's also a height-adjustable boot floor – if you raise it when the rear seats are folded down, you're left with a flat space that you can slide items along easily.

The PHEV version’s battery sits under the boot floor, so you lose the adjustment option (it's permanently in its highest setting), but that still leaves a big enough space for most requirements, and there's a bit of storage under the floor for the charging cables.

"You can slide the C5 Aircross's back seats back and forth, which is very handy. If the boot is empty, you can have a terrific amount of rear leg room." – Kiall Garrett, Senior Videographer

Practicality overview 

Strengths Big boot; versatile rear seats

Weaknesses Less interior space than rivals

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

In our preferred entry-level Plus trim, the Citroën C5 Aircross undercuts pretty much every rival except the Dacia Jogger. Indeed, even if you upgrade to mid-spec Max trim, it’s only undercut by a top-spec MG HS Trophy and costs less than the Ford Kuga and the Mazda CX-5. Compared to the Honda CR-V it's a bargain.

Over three years, the C5 Aircross is predicted to depreciate slightly more slowly than most rivals, including the HS, the CX-5 and the 5008. That helps to keep it very competitive when it comes to monthly PCP finance costs – make sure you check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages

If you’re a company car driver and want to keep your monthly benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax payments low, you’ll want the PHEV due to its low CO2 emissions. It should charge up from empty in less than two hours if you use a 7kW home wall box. Using the optional lead for a three-pin plug will take about six hours.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level Plus trim helps to keep costs low but that doesn’t mean it’s poorly equipped. It comes with 18in alloy wheels, automatic windscreen wipers, dual-zone climate control, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror, keyless start and privacy glass. 

That should be all you need, but if you want one of the hybrid engines, you’ll need to upgrade to at least Max trim. Even then, you wouldn’t call the C5 Aircross expensive and it adds a few more niceties, including keyless entry, heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, roof bars, a black roof and a few other styling tweaks. 

Top-spec ë-series trim is only available with the two hybrid engines and gets bigger 19in wheels, electric driver’s seat, bespoke styling, laminated front side windows and the panoramic roof. Given the equipment you get with mid-spec Max trim, we’re not sure it’s worth the extra (assuming you want a hybrid car).

Citroën C5 Aircross interior infotainment

Reliability

The C5 Aircross didn’t feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey but Citroën featured as a brand. It managed to claim 14th place out of the 32 car makers included – that puts it above Skoda, Ford, Peugeot, Renault, MG and Vauxhall but below Honda, Kia and Mazda.

Citroën gives you a two-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and an additional one year’s cover provided by the dealer (up to 60,000 miles).

That’s pretty standard for the class, and doesn’t come close to Hyundai and MG’s five-year warranty, Kia’s seven year cover or Toyota’s offering (up to 10 years). Citroën allows you to extend your warranty for a fee.

Safety and security

Unlike previous versions of the C5 Aircross, you now get the Safety Pack as standard. That means every version comes with lots of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning. Meanwhile, opting for Max or ë-series trim adds blind-spot monitoring.

When it was tested by the experts at Euro NCAP in 2019, the C5 Aircross scored the full five-star rating, matching the MG HS’s score.

Digging deeper into the results, you’ll find that the C5 Aircross was the best of the pair when it came to protecting child occupants in the rear and the HS better at protecting adults in the front.

"I tried to keep my PHEV C5 Aircross's battery charged up when I could, but I didn't get anywhere close to the official fuel economy... my long-term figure of 38.1mpg was a bit disappointing." – Kiall Garrett, Senior Videographer

Costs overview 

Strengths Very affordable; lots of standard equipment; stronger resale value than rivals

Weaknesses So-so warranty


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FAQs

  • Yes, the C5 Aircross is slightly taller and longer than the Peugeot 3008. That said, the difference is negligible and we don’t think you’d notice a difference when it comes to interior space.

  • No – it's strictly a five-seater. If you like the look of the C5 Aircross but want seven seats, you’ll want to take a look at the closely-related Peugeot 5008.

  • The closest rival is the Peugeot 5008 which is closely related but has seven seats. Otherwise, you might want to look at the Dacia Jogger, the Ford Kuga, the Mazda CX-5 or the MG HS.

At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £23,934
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From £20,990
RRP price range £24,280 - £39,135
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol parallel phev, diesel, petrol
MPG range across all versions 200.3 - 54.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £802 / £1,894
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,603 / £3,787
Available colours