Mazda CX-5 long-term test: report 3

Our sub-editor wants a car that's relaxing on the motorway, capable on tricky terrain and fun to drive elsewhere. Can this family SUV deliver?...

Mazda CX-5 2022 long-term riverside

The car Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD GT Sport Auto Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor

Why it’s here To see how a traditional, petrol-powered, four-wheel drive large SUV fits in with daily life

Needs to Shrug off rough roads and tough weather, soothe in motorway traffic, entertain on a twisty road

Mileage 7643 List price £38,905 Target Price £37,389 Price as tested £39,485 Test economy 33.1mpg Official economy 34.2mpg 

21 October 2022 – I wish it would rain down

What better way to test how my four-wheel drive Mazda CX-5 deals with adverse weather conditions and tricky terrain than with a camping trip in Cornwall? For years my wife and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Millendreath, and we’re reliably rewarded with gale-force winds and monsoon conditions that have sped a good few tents to a premature demise.

Mazda CX-5 2022 long term camping

Alas, this year's trip was warm and dry, if generally overcast, so the CX-5’s four-wheel drive set-up was given much less of a workout than the climate control. I can happily report that the latter works very well indeed, as do the ventilated seats, which do a great job of preventing the horrible sticky-back syndrome that can manifest itself with leather upholstery in a hot car. 

Also proving a hit is my CX-5’s sunroof. It isn't a full length panoramic job, but it’s big enough to be worth having and it opens and closes at the touch of a button. When trundling around scenic corners of Cornwall it was a real pleasure to switch the air-conditioning off, open the windows and sunroof and let the outside in.

Mazda CX-5 2022 long term sunroof

As with most cars, opening the sunroof at speed introduces an ear-bashing turbulence, but this dissipates if you crack the rear windows open by a few centimetres. In fact, I’m not sure why car makers don’t rig the windows to do this automatically when the sunroof is opened; I’ve never driven a car in which this technique doesn’t cure the buffeting.

On a visit to Polruan, it was easy to imagine how the four-wheel drive system might have come in handy in less clement conditions; the village's grassy, vertiginous overflow car park can easily turn treacherous after a cloudburst. To celebrate that I was driving such butch machine, I selected a spot right at the top, with a commanding view over the River Fowey.

Mazda CX-5 2022 long term Polruan

In preparation for the savage incline, I popped the CX-5's Mi-Drive mode selector into Off Road, which readies the car to send power to whichever wheels are best disposed to use it. Of course, this was total overkill, given the rather tame conditions, and the car scampered up the dry slope as if it wasn't there. Still, a more low-slung car, such as my elderly Audi A4 or antique Rover 800, would never have managed it.

Anyway, we still had one more test up our sleeves. After Cornwall, we made our way to the Beautiful Days music festival in Devon – an event that usually has our wellies well and truly muddied. The car park is a grassy field, which typically gets nicely churned up in the rain; at the end of last year’s festival, the route out resembled the Somme and the front-wheel-drive Kia Soul EV I was driving scrabbled for traction. Unfortunately, this year it was sunnier than we've ever known it to be, so I’m none the wiser as to how the Mazda CX-5 would have coped in swamp conditions, because the ground was tinder dry.

Mazda CX-5 2022 long term Festival

I’m not ready to wish the sunshine away, but I’m looking forward to encountering the kind of conditions that might tax the CX-5’s rugged underpinnings at least a little. It’s like my Swiss Army knife; I often use the screwdriver, bottle opener and scissors it conceals, but I’ve yet to find a situation where the saw has come in handy. And yet I wouldn’t want to be without it, just in case. 

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