Utility vehicles seem to be crowding out every other kind of vehicle, except for pickup trucks, on American streets and roads. So, it is no surprise manufacturers based around Detroit are exiting the old-line passenger car business, probably forever, and replacing them with utility vehicles of various sizes.

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 retains the brand’s reputation for good driving dynamics while offering plenty of room.

Other manufacturers from Asia and Europe also are edging away from the shrinking passenger car segments, which are increasingly defined by the smallest vehicles or luxury sedans built with the thought they could be driven by a chauffeur.

Even manufacturers such as Mazda, which has a history of making smart, fun-to-drive, sporty cars, has moved into the crowded utility vehicle space with vehicles such as CX-5, which is a direct competitor to popular utilities such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape. 


The 2023 Mazda CX-5 carries on the company’s best traditions. The CX-5 comes with ample power and torque as well as impressive driving dynamics. Besides being practical and versatile, the CX-5 is equipped with the kind of features motorists laying out more than $30,000 for a new vehicle have come to expect such as connectivity, driver assistance features and cruise control to keep pace with its competitors. At $32,000 for version I drove, it is also relatively affordable by current standards.

Mazda’s stylists have worked at slimming the sheet metal in CX-5 so it looks more like a sleek passenger car.


Mazda’s stylists have worked at slimming the sheet metal in CX-5 so it looks more like a sleek passenger car. It’s a tall order. But the laid-back windshield, slopping roof and spoiler at the roof line in the rear of the vehicle all give the CX-5 a sportier look that fits Mazda’s brand image. 

The front of the CX-5 carries a bold grille with Mazda badge in the center and the signature black wings. The light fixtures are designed to accommodate the LED light fixtures that are part of the overall design both in the front and in the rear. The exterior design is set off by 19-inch alloy wheels.


Many manufacturers seem to overload their interiors with too many features and a confusing collection of materials, designed to convey an impression of luxury. Mazda avoids all that with a simple design, set off, in the version I drove, neatly by a carefully stitched, leather-wrapped dashboard. The seats are also trimmed in leather, while the information and navigation screen is set into the center stack. 

The slopping roof and spoiler at the roof line in the rear of the vehicle all give the CX-5 a sportier look that fits Mazda’s brand image.

The careful design of the interior also creates a roomy space around the five seating positions. The interior is also equipped with folding seats and space for luggage, sporting gear or packages. The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent.


The 2023 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition AWD is equipped with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission and an active all-wheel-drive system. The powertrain is capable of 186 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the CX-5 has a combined fuel economy rating of 26 mpg, including 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. In keeping with Mazda’s intentions to make all of its vehicles for all drivers, the CX-5 also is equipped with multiple drive modes and paddle shifters to override the automatic transmission.

Safety and Technology

Mazda’s interior features a carefully stitched, leather-wrapped dashboard.

The safety features include multiple airbags for protection in front- and side-impact crashes. The 2022 Mazda CX-5 also is equipped with driver assistance features such as blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.  

It also equipped with Bluetooth, Sirius XM radio connection, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition, automatic high-beam controls for the LED lights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. It also is equipped with wireless phone charging and four USB ports as well as a moonroof and rear-view camera.

Driving Impressions

Even though it is designed to be a utility vehicle, the latest version of the CX-5 still has lots of Mazda in its engineering and turns out to be a terrific vehicle to drive, I think. It has ample power and torque from the from the 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed transmission. 

It also comes with a well-tuned chassis and the independent suspension at the front and rear of the vehicle. Mazda also equipped the CX-5 with G-vectoring control, dynamic stability control, as well as off-road traction assist to help the driver keep the vehicle under control in all kinds of situations on pavement or on a dirt road of trail. The power from the drivetrain comes into play quickly. The shifts are smooth, and the Mazda CX-5 has impressive driving dynamics, which deliver a smooth ride.

2023 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition AWD Specifications

DimensionL: 180.7 inches/W: 72.6 inches/H: 66.1 inches/Wheelbase: 106.2 inchesWeight3,728 poundsPowertrain2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, AWDFuel Economy24 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combinedPerformance Specs187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torquePriceBase price: $26,700; As tested: $32,225 including $1,275 destination chargeOn-Sale DateAvailable now

Wrap Up

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 is not flashy, but it is a practical, well thought out vehicle that is fun to drive. It’s compact size places it at the heart of a growing market segment. I suspect anyone shopping for a vehicle in this segment would be shocked by the jump in prices. 

But the CX-5 is versatile and a good size for urban and suburban drivers who don’t have to haul around part of a hockey team. Mazda solid engineering is another plus and helps make the CX-5 stand out against some very tough competition.

2023 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition AWD ­— Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Mazda CX-5 a good vehicle?

The Mazda CX-5 remains one of the best small SUVs around. It offers a high-quality interior, sharp handling and a competitive price. It comes up just a bit short in terms of rear passenger space, cargo capacity and fuel economy, but overall it’s an outstanding vehicle in its class.

What are the exterior colors for the 2023 Mazda CX-5?

For 2023, the Rhodium White Metallic Mazda CX-5 exterior color replaces the Snowflake White Pearl option. Rhodium White Metallic joins Soul Red Crystal Metallic and Machine Gray Metallic as the exclusive exterior paint color options on the Mazda CX-5. Each of the premium paint options is achieved through the automaker’s unique Takuminuri painting technology.

What kind of Infotainment system is in the 2023 Mazda CX-5?

All the trims of the 2023 Mazda CX-5 come with the 10.3-inch infotainment display that is neatly integrated into the center of the dashboard. This infotainment comes packed with features such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM radio, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.

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