2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo

Consumer Guide Test Drive

2024 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Carbon Turbo

Class: Compact Crossover/SUV

Color: Zircon Sand

Seating capacity: 5

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyB
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyB
Tall GuyA-
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Engine Specs227-horsepower, 2.5-liter
Engine TypeTurbo 4-cylinder
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Miles driven: 471

Observed fuel economy: 24.0 mpg

Driving mix: 75% city, 25% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 22/27/24 (mpg city/highway/combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Snow Performance: N/A

Base price: $37,000 (not including $1375 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($450), navigation system ($450), rear bumper guard ($135)

Price as tested: $39,410


Quick Hits

The great: Sporty character, upscale feel

The good: Comfortable cabin, plenty of power

The not so good: Coarse-sounding engine, near-premium price


Tom Appel:

Mazda knows a good thing when it sees it. Though the brand’s crossover lineup has been extensively reworked over in the past couple of years, one model remains resolutely fixed in place. While the small CX-3 gave way for the more upscale CX-30, and the midsize CX-9 was deleted from the lineup to make room for the CX-90, the compact CX-5 stayed put, despite the addition of the like-size CX-50 to the Mazda U.S. portfolio.

2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo, Christmas Lights

The CX-5 has long been Mazda’s best-selling model, and the additional of upscale “2-digit” (30, 50, 90) crossovers to the lineup has done little to challenge the CX-5’s popularity. While the new crossovers are meant to look a little more rugged, and to gently nudge the Japanese brand upmarket, consumers have not given up on the CX-5’s tempting blend of sporty character, cabin comfort, and dollar value. Last year, customers snapped up 154,000 CX-5s. Mazda’s 2nd-best selling model, the CX-30, accounted for less than half as many sales. For the record, the CX-50 came in at around 45,000 units.

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2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo

For 2024, Mazda sweetens the CX-5 pot somewhat, by adding a second, turbocharged Carbon Edition trim level to the lineup up. The Carbon Edition includes unique Polymetal Gray paint, red leather seating, unique wheels, and several other features for a value price. A non-turbo Carbon Edition was added to the lineup for the 2021 model year.

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2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo

The full—and expansive—CX-5 lineup starts with the 2.5 S Select (around $31,000), and ascends through the 2.5 S Preferred ($32,000), 2.5 S Carbon Edition ($33,000), 2.5 S Premium ($34,000), 2.5 S Premium Plus ($36,000), 2.5 Carbon Turbo ($38,000), 2.5 Turbo Premium ($39,000), and 2.5 Turbo Signature ($42,000).

All non-turbo CX-5s are powered by a 187-horsepower 2.5-liter four. Turbocharged models also come with a 2.5-liter four, but rated at 227 horsepower. All engines mate to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and all run on regular-grade gas. Note that running turbocharged CX-5s on premium-grade gas bumps the rated power output to 250 horsepower. For 2024 all CX-5 trim levels included standard AWD.

Note that the slightly longer and lower CX-50 more or less matches the CX-5 trim levels, with each coming in around $1000 higher in price. We seriously recommend that shoppers considering either vehicle test drive each. There’s a lot to like about both.

Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2024 CX-5 Carbon Turbo in optional Zircon Sand Metallic. With destination and a few options, our test car rang in at $39,410.

Inside, the CX-5 mostly lives up to Mazda’s upscale intentions. Cabin materials are of a high grade, and assembly quality appears top notch. We also found the seats to be both substantial and comfortable. Thanks, at least in part, to its upright posture, visibility out of the CX-5 is generally excellent, and the generous glass area gives the crossover’s interior an open and airy feel. Rear-seat space is also generous, and four adults will find long-trips more than tolerable.

Underway the CX-5 shines. Mazda’s “Skyactiv-G” turbocharged engine delivers plenty of power for around-town traffic handling, and offers up a deep reserve of power for passing and merging. We tested the CX-5 using regular-grade fuel. Running premium fuel will boost the fun by a meaningful 23 horsepower. Despite Mazda’s upscale aspirations, the Skyactiv engine is a little coarse at idle, and doesn’t produce the smoothest sounds when pushed. Mazda loyalists will defend the engine’s lack of refinement as character, and we’re OK with that.

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2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo

In terms of ride and handling, the CX-5 shines as few small crossovers do. Handling is entertainingly sporty, with firm, nicely weighted steering, strong-feeling brakes, and well controlled lean in corners. Despite its athletic nature, ride quality is impressive, with well-controlled body motion over larger road imperfections and no harshness over broken road surfaces.

We should address the love-it or hate-it infotainment interface. The CX-5 employs a center-console situated rotary knob for most digital actuation. The knob both rotates and acts as a plunger, the later to engage deeper menus and sub menus. Initial response to the setup—even by the automotive media—is generally negative, primarily because most other brands have moved on to simpler touch-screen systems.

They said, there is much to like about the Mazda system once a driver has become familiar with the arrangement. This author finds the system an excellent way to keep a driver’s eyes on the road. It takes only a few days to become familiarized with the system, after which many drivers come to prefer it to conventional touch-screen operation. Be sure to spend time learning how the Mazda knob-driven infotainment-system works should you take a test drive in a CX-5, or any Mazda, for that matter.

We’re big fans of the CX-5. We find that Mazda’s best-selling crossover represents a deft blend of utility, luxury, and sporty character. Some consumers may balk at the infotainment-system interface, but we promise that it becomes more familiar, and easier to use, over time. More importantly, the CX-5 can seem pricey compared to other small crossovers. But, when you compare the CX-5’s upscale cabin, available power, and general utility, the Mazda justifies its extra cost. When you test drive the CX-5, take time to check out the more-modern-looking CX-50, it’s also very good.

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2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo
2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo

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2024 Mazda CX-5 Carbon Turbo Gallery

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