The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The CX-5 has the typical lofty driving position that SUV fans will appreciate; you feel farther from the ground than you do in smaller family SUVs such as the Seat Ateca and Peugeot 3008. The driver's seat is pretty comfortable, with height adjustment and adjustable lumbar support, which helps to stave off back pain on long journeys, fitted to all trims. The top two trims – Sport and GT Sport – have a fully electrically adjustable driver’s seat as standard.
In addition, the CX-5's pedals line up neatly with the driver's seat, so you’re not sitting at an awkward angle, there’s loads of range to the height and reach adjustable steering wheel, and the dashboard controls are sensibly arranged and therefore easy to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The CX-5's slim windscreen pillars help you see clearly when approaching junctions. At night the standard LED headlights light the way very clearly, and GT Sport trim adds adaptive LED headlights, which you can leave set to full beam without dazzling any cars in front.
Having a sizeable rear screen means the view directly backwards isn’t too bad, but the thick rear pillars create some issues looking back diagonally. Still, all CX-5s come with front and rear parking sensors and the mid-level Sport trim adds a rear-view camera. Range-topping GT Sport trim upgrades that to a 360deg camera, which displays a bird's eye view of the car on the infotainment screen.
Sat nav and infotainment
The CX-5’s infotainment system is relatively easy to get your head around. You can control it via a touchscreen – the same interface as you get with most rivals – when parked up, but not when you're on the move. Mazda considers that a touchscreen is too distracting while driving, and we agree.
In motion, it’s far safer to use the CX-5’s rotary dial controller, mounted just behind the gearlever. It works much like the BMW X3’s iDrive system: you simply twist the dial to scroll through menus and press down to make selections. The 8.0in screen is pretty clear and the software is far more responsive and intuitive to use than the Citroën C5 Aircross’s or the Peugeot 5008’s.
In-built sat-nav, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, are standard on all trim levels, as are two USB ports, which are positioned helpfully above a tray that can hold your phone. There are two more USB sockets in the rear. A punchy 10-speaker Bose sound system is standard on Sport and GT Sport trims.
The CX-5 really delivers when it comes to interior quality. It’s much classier than the Ford Kuga, really solidly put together and it’s only the pricier premium rivals, such as the Audi Q5 and X3, that manage to improve on the CX-5’s high standards.
Most surfaces are soft to the touch, and those that aren’t tend to be hidden low down. There’s an eclectic mix of materials that work well together to enhance the ambience, including leather highlights around the base of the dashboard and, on range-topping GT Sport, attractive dashboard inserts.
A fine SUV, particularly in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) form
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