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October 30, 2018

Review: 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport D

Whether you like it or not, crossovers are now officially the modern-day family car. Raised, boxy, and utilitarian, they’re compromised to a degree but remain a no brainer option for buyers who want something flexible. But every now and then, there comes one that goes beyond the norm. In this case, it’s the CX-5 AWD Sport D—Mazda’s full-bodied compact crossover.

As a bit of a refresher, the second-generation CX-5 entered the market in late 2017. It rode on the same platform as its predecessor and carried the same variety of engines. As such, it gave a “same but different” feel since it upped every single aspect from comfort to refinement while staying true to the same driver-centric or, if you will, jinba-ittai Mazdas are known for.

This starts with the CX-5’s stellar man-machine interface. Compared to any other crossover in the market, it delivers a sporty but comfortable driving position. It’s posture-perfect, a great way to spend countless miles in. The steering wheel and pedals are already placed in a way that promotes a relaxed driving position, but add to that impeccably supportive seats, and it’s achieved perfection.

Thankfully, the CX-5’s driver-centric cabin translates to great on-road behavior as well; after all, it’s just one letter away from Mazda’s famed MX-5. The steering is linear, natural, and consistent. It’s equally good at slow speeds—quick and responsive, and at high speeds—precise and weighty. The suspension it’s attached to is well-tuned too. Aside from a hint of body roll and understeer at the limit, it shifts weight easily, offering a feeling of agility usually absent in this class.

Funny thing though that the predictive i-ACTIV AWD system is its weakest link. Though it’s sharper than other on-demand all-wheel drive systems, press down on the accelerator, especially with a bit of angle dialed in, and there’s a moment when the steering lightens up before grip levels settle down.

This variant has a hefty premium over the gasoline-engined AWD Sport, but my god, this is the engine to have. Compared to the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G which is more sufficient than exciting, the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D turns the tables around. It’s fun, effortless, and frugal. Being more measured with the gas pedal is needed to calm its power delivery, but once mastered, it’s smoother and more refined than any other diesel out there. Admittedly, the 9.29 km/L fuel economy figure still isn’t as high as some of its competitors, but it’s still a marked improvement from the gasoline’s 7.58 km/L.

While fuel efficiency is a bit down, at least the CX-5 has made leaps and bounds when it comes to on-road refinement. The ride still borders on the firm, but because of its solid body structure, it doesn’t jostle the occupants as much anymore. Plus, they seemed to have made inroads when it comes to quietness too.

A year on, the CX-5 remains the segment’s sexiest offering. Unrestrained by its need to look tough and rugged, it avoids the typical squarish SUV look and goes for something more appropriate for the urban landscape. It stands out for its sleek and sinewy design, with an imposing front-end.

Inside, the cabin is straightforward and simple. Putting more focus in the materials used, the CX-5 simply shines here. The variety of finishes from dark wood, metal alloy, and high-gloss piano black sound eclectic, but they all work well together. Plus, the plastics and leather are absolutely top-notch.

This particular unit now comes from Mazda’s new Kulim assembly plant in Malaysia which now serves the Philippine market. Assembly quality seems to be at par with units from Japan, well perhaps except for an occasional rattle or two that wasn’t present in the gasoline variant tested from Japan.

Compared to other crossovers in the market, the CX-5 still doesn’t deliver the segment’s roomiest interior or largest cargo space, but it’s still family-friendly. The rear seats are actually quite habitable with good levels of leg- and headroom. Supportive seats make it a winner for road trips. However, cargo space isn’t too great, but since the seats do fold in a 40/20/40 split, at least there’s a bit more flexibility baked in.

Priced at P 2,230,000 the 2019 CX-5 AWD Sport D isn’t cheap. Compared to its main rival, the Honda CR-V SX Diesel, it commands a P 75,000 premium. Thankfully, it’s got the toys to back it up. Aside from its top-notch fit and finish, the CX-5 gets powered front seats (with memory for the driver), sunroof, Bose sound system, power tailgate, proximity sensors with reverse camera, blind spot indicators—it’s absolutely everything you need in a premium-priced compact crossover.

The operative phrase here is “premium-priced compact crossover” and it should already tell you that the Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport D isn’t for everyone. Some may say that the CR-V is a more practical choice because of its 7-seater configuration or that the diesel engine isn’t worth the added P 250,000 premium over the CX-5’s own gasoline-engined variant, but that’s not the point. For the few who understand what the CX-5 AWD Sport D stands for, they’ll appreciate and love it for what it is. In the end, it’s the crossover for the discerning few who value full-bodied flavor and experience above all else.

2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport D
Ownership 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport Skyactiv-D
Year Introduced 2017
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-Door Compact Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.2
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Common Rail Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 175 @ 4,500
Nm @ rpm 420 @ 2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.29 km/L @ 14 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,550
Width (mm) 1,840
Height (mm) 1,680
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,668
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Toyo Proxes R46 A 225/55 R 19 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear, with Camera
Other Safety Features Hill Hold Assist
Blindspot Monitoring System
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Keep Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (front)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 40/20/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 10
Steering Controls Yes


  1. There's a bit of a compromise. But still, im gonna consider these once i've built a family in the near future.

  2. While its pretty good, the drawback is that it has the interior space of a subcompact car. At 2.2m there are many diesel SUVs out there which makes sense as a family SUV

  3. Hello sir. How is your Mazda 3 Speed? Can you make another long term after-the-buzz review? Any more issues you encountered so far? Were very interested to buy a Mazda 3 after owning the 2016 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 so far is very good, except with one constant issue: the adaptive led headlights are very problematic. The beam always go low. Other than that, the cx-5 is fine.

  4. the fastest diesel compact crossover hampered by small interior space

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Will these Mazda diesel engines have DPF issues if only driven in Metro Manila traffic?

    1. Hi Andy.

      We haven't received any reports of Mazda DPFs getting clogged when driven purely in traffic. For as long as you follow the prescribed maintenance schedule, you should be fine.

    2. Hi Sir Uly!

      Thanks for your reply. We were really worried about this.


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