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August 11, 2022

Review: 2022 Mazda CX-5 AWD Turbo

Mazda has found the fountain of youth with the current-generation CX-5. It’s hard to believe but the current generation of their compact SUV has been around for five years already. A minor update in 2019 (for the 2020 model year) did freshen things a bit, but given the competitiveness of this segment, it’s a surprise how its foundations have remained solid.

With this in mind, Mazda need not have changed the formula going into 2022. After all, it remains as one of their best-selling vehicles. Still, something was gnawing at them; an itch that was just begging to be scratched. That, it turns out, was to introduce a high-performance variant of the CX-5. The 2022 CX-5 AWD Turbo does just that. Not only does it satisfy the urge of horsepower junkies, but it’s wrapped up in a luxurious, well-mannered, and refined package. The perfect compact SUV? Close.

This story starts with where the Philippines sources its CX-5. Assembled in Malaysia, a turbocharged left-hand drive CX-5 just wasn’t on the cards even if Mazda Philippines got on their hands and knees to beg for one (economies of scale and all that). So, in a stroke of genius, the local office set their sights on Hiroshima, Japan where the aforementioned configuration was available for export.

As chance would have it, this allowed the CX-5 AWD Turbo to gain the new-for-2022 refresh. Not available for the Malaysian-made ones (at least anytime soon), it aligns the exterior design closer to the so-called seventh-generation models such as the Mazda3 and CX-30. Over to the front, a new signature wing extends outward from the front grille which also happens to get a new three-dimensional texture. The headlights and taillights also receive new horizontally-spaced, rectangular LED elements. New aluminum alloy wheels (still 19-inches in diameter) and new colors such as Zircon Sand complete the transformation.

Admittedly, the overall effect is less stellar compared to Mazda’s previous design efforts. Instead of making the CX-5 look sportier or lighter to the eye, the update actually made it look like it gained some pandemic weight. From some angles, it looks downright bloated. Personally, the decision to body-match the wheel fenders and side skirts contributed to this. It may have visually lowered the car (it’s part of their product brief to give it a more urban-centric re-design), but it also raises one unforeseen problem: it doesn’t play well on local roads. Because the lower part is all body-colored now, it’s easy to scar the trailing edges of the wheel fenders. This particular test drive unit, even with less than 2,000 kilometers on the clock, already has seen some nicks and scratches from where pebbles or loose asphalt would hit it. If there’s a car that’s a candidate for some paint protection film, it’s this.

Love or loathe the exterior re-design, everyone will agree that the CX-5 AWD Turbo has made big strides inside. Five years ago, the CX-5’s interior shamed every other compact SUV out there; that trend continues today. It’s made a huge upgrade in providing a sense of luxury with the new seats covered in full-grain dark red nappa leather, genuine wood trim on the dashboard and doors, and a frameless rear-view mirror. It also gets all the trappings typically found in more expensive vehicles such as ventilated front seats with power adjustment (and memory for the driver), a sunroof, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, and new for 2022, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging (Android Auto’s still a wired affair though).

Speaking of the infotainment system, the CX-5 AWD Turbo does offer a slightly larger screen (it’s up an inch from 7 to 8 inches), but it still houses the old Mazda Connect system. Though the system works fine, it’s just not as good as the newer, more modern interface used in the Mazda3 and CX-30. And while the screen itself offers a decent resolution; the cameras used for the 360-degree system are still pretty low-res. Adding insult to injury, the display defaults to splitting the feed into two making everything look small and almost undecipherable.

As always, the CX-5 remains arguably the driver’s choice in the compact SUV segment.

Starting with the most important bit, the engine, the CX-5 AWD Turbo serves up the goods. When loaded with a fuel that can unlock a more powerful performance such as Petron Blaze 100—the only 100-octane and Euro-6 compliant fuel in the Philippines—it serves up 253 horsepower and 434 Nm of torque. With a 0 to 100 km/h time of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 224 km/h, mental images of the now-discontinued Subaru Forester XT come to mind. In reality though, their character couldn’t have been more different.

Whereas the Forester XT drives like a blunt instrument—powerful but largely unrefined, the CX-5 AWD Turbo is a sharpened rapier. It serves up a level of smoothness aligned with Mazda’s upmarket aspirations; push the pedal down though, and it’s still willing to play along. Unlike the on/off engagement of the last turbocharged Forester, there’s always power on tap available here. The 2.5-liter’s Dynamic Pressure Turbo works to keep a surge of power coming the moment it moves away from stoplights all the way to high-speed cruising. Along the way, it also happens to serve some enjoyable acoustics too.

Plus, the decision to plop in the Skyactiv-Turbo engine didn’t seem to have a negative impact on fuel economy. Driven mostly in urban confines, the on-board computer still registered 7.7 km/L—close to the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport.

Hand-in-hand with the revised suspension bits that were introduced in 2020, the CX-5 AWD Turbo balances the ride/handling equation perfectly. The front dampers are now larger, while the rear has a new geometry. Driven back-to-back with a 2019, the differences are subtle, but noticeable, especially when going over small cracks and bumps. With new vibration-absorbing material put in, it’s also pretty quiet, keeping unwanted exterior noise to a bare minimum. If there’s anything to nitpick here, the steering provides less feedback than before. Though a crossover isn’t expected to have communicative steering, the CX-5 always had that knack. However, they seemed to have traded that for a lighter effort. Well, at least it remains precise.

Completing the package for the CX-5 AWD Turbo is the full suite of Mazda’s i-Activsense driver assist system. Aside from Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Driver Attention Alert, Smart City Brake Support – Forward (4 to 30 km/h), and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, it adds Mazda Radar Cruise Control (30 km/h and up), Smart Brake Support (15 to 145 km/h), and Smart City Brake Support – Reverse (2 to 8 km/h).

The P 2,380,000 price tag may result in initial sticker shock to some folk. However, considering that the Honda CR-V AWD and its dinky turbodiesel engine’s already at P 2,238,000, and the Toyota RAV4 LTD is at P 2,500,000, the CX-5 AWD Turbo actually represents phenomenally good value. The new engine, added safety features, and the multitude of smaller, sometimes imperceptible tweaks have not only made this the perfect iteration of Mazda’s compact SUV, but it’s also managed to breathe life on an otherwise mature formula. Of course, the biggest bonus? Because of the Forester XT’s demise, it’s now pretty much in a segment of one.

2022 Mazda CX-5 AWD Turbo

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Ownership 2022 Mazda CX-5 AWD Turbo
Year Introduced 2017 (Refreshed: 2020, 2022)
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 253 @ 5,000 (95 RON up),
231 @ 5,000 (91 RON)
Nm @ rpm 434 Nm @ 2,000 (95 RON up),
420 Nm @ 2,000 (91 RON)
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.70 km/L @ 15 km/h
(fueled with Petron Blaze 100)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,575
Width (mm) 1,845
Height (mm) 1,680
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,712
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electronic, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Toyo Proxes R46A 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
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Lane Departure Alert
Lane Keep Assist
Driver Attention Alert
Smart City Brake Support - Front
Smart City Brake Support - Rear
Blindspot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps No
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Electric
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 10-way, Electronic, w/ memory, Ventilated
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 8-way, Electronic, Ventilated
Seating Surface Nappa Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 40/20/40
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 10, Bose
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Best in the segment if you want a TOTL compact crossover.

    Buyers should also consider the cost of free 5 years PMS which easily is around 100K+

  2. The only real decent crossover around. Subaru wussed out and removed the Forester XT. Ford didn’t bring the new Escape with the new 2.0L Ecoboost which is a shame.

    1. The Forester XT was very famous when it had a hood scoop. When the hood scoop was removed, its sporty image subsided.

  3. Also, where did the Chevrolet Captiva go?

    1. The old Craptiva had an awful and noisy interior and unreliable mechanicals (particularly the diesel). The new one sold overseas, which is a rebadged MG crossover, will probably not be any better.

  4. Wow, this is one of the few crossovers/SUVs that can outrun the Kicks E-Power. It's also pretty clear that both the 120hp CR-V AWD & that gas-guzzling RAV4 LTD are overpriced.

  5. Very fun to drive na yung CX-9 with the turbo engine and never ka mabibitin sa power, and it weighs more. Pano na lang kaya sa lighter na CX-5, Dang!

  6. CX-5 is old and still cramped..RAV-4 LTD is a Hybrid and its bigger than the CX-5

    1. This updated version is larger than the old one. Old but still has a better drive and interior than the newer overpriced RAV-4.

    2. Still better than that overpriced, thirsty RAV4, which only has half the torque of this CX-5, uses a CVT, & is FWD only. It should have been called the RAV2 Fanboy Edition.

  7. Hey Ulysses! Powerwise and driving pleasure which one wins your heart subaru forester xt with the cvt tranny or this new cx5 turbo? Would like to hear solid thoughts about comparing these cars :)

    1. Di mo ba binasa yung article? Nandun na yung sagot sa tanong mo

    2. Would like to hear from him more. Input abt it :)


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