Subtle yet sublime – 2022 Mazda CX-5 review

It’s been around a decade since the Mazda CX-5 was first released and what an impact it’s made. It was the first Mazda to showcase their KODO design language and first to feature their full suite of Skyactiv technologies – no wonder it’s gone on to be their best selling model. This year see’s an upgrade to their ultra popular SUV, and while the changes may be subtle, the result has been somewhat sublime.

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

It would have taken a brave team to make any changes to the exterior design as the CX-5’s looks have garnered immense praise and awards over the years but in the true ‘less is more’ KODO spirit, the Mazda designers have minimised the SUV’s character lines and elevated its reflective body surfaces. 

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

The nose embraces the current family appearance direction with a new signature wing that extends outward from the front grille, a grille that has also been updated with a three-dimensional texture. Both the headlights and taillights have been modernised too, they now feature a pair of horizontally spaced, rectangular LED lights that offer added sleekness to the face and tail, while targeted use of chrome and gloss black contrast well and underscores the models sophistication.

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

The interior format remains virtually unchanged in terms of layout, it was ahead of its time anyway, however, premium quality materials have been introduced such as genuine woodgrain across the dash and Nappa leather on the seats, that have been redesigned to help provide the driver (and occupants) with greater stability for a more natural and comfortable experience.

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

The Mi-Drive now gives you access to three driving modes, Normal, Sport and Off-Road and that brings me to the changes that you can’t see – but certainly can feel. The six-speed automatic transmission is more responsive offering smoother acceleration and the performance-enhancing i-Activ AWD is now standard on all CX-5 models to elevate an already great Mazda driving experience. 

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

For those that don’t know (or haven’t experienced it yet), the i-Activ AWD system continuously monitors weight transfer, based on acceleration and cornering forces, and shifts power to the appropriate wheels, providing drivers a near instant response to inputs. By sharpening turn-in response and control based on vehicle speed, the i-Activ AWD system can help enhance the vehicle’s performance, while also providing additional safety in various road conditions.

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

Added to all the above, there have been updates to the suspension including improvements to the dampening control structure and increased frame rigidity, which will help suppress unpleasant vibrations, reduce road noise, and help to provide a quieter cabin and higher quality of ride comfort. 

Like I said in the outset, the changes may have been subtle but they’ve all been done to increase the ‘horse and rider’ driving experience – so best I tried them out.

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

My near week at the reins of the new CX-5 meant that it had a chance to join in all my family fun. That meant, football practice for my son, grocery shopping and general bric a brac chores, to which the midsize SUV simply lapped up. Its roomy cabin makes for easy access and comfort all round while the upmarket trim and Takaminess meant that everything felt solid and well crafted. But the thing I was looking forward to was the open road drive with no-one by myself on board, aka fun time. 

Having spent a fair amount of time with the CX-5 in the past, I was well aware of its handling excellent capabilities, however, it had been a while since I really blew its (or is that my) cobwebs out. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. 

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

From the get go the improvements are very noticeable. From the lack of road/wind or any outside noise for that matter, to the grip it offers in each and every corner, this is an executive and sporty SUV in reflective clothing. 

It’s no slouch off the mark with the Skyactiv-G turbo engine presenting its maximum torque (420Nm) from 2,000 rpm and is joined by its maximum power (170kW) just 3,000 rpm later, and it switches up and down the 6-speed gearbox with ease. But it’s the joy it delivered when pointing its new nose around bends that gave me the most pleasure – it’s very impressive. What’s more, having the occasional flashing light join me from the instrument cluster (essentially filling in my ‘lack of talent’ gaps) simply added to my enjoyment, it’s like being a trapeze artist knowing there’s a safety net below you (hopefully you can get the idea of me in tights out of your head soon).

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ

As pointed out earlier, there is also an off-road mode in the Mi-Drive system, unfortunately for me I didn’t get a chance to use that (or fortunately as I wanted to stay on the tarmac). But if the way it performs on the road is anything to go by, I’m certain it’ll do just fine when playing in the mud. 

2022 Mazda CX-5 review NZ
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