2024 Mazda CX-5

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Sometimes, a new model is sold alongside the model it was meant to replace – chiefly because the old model is still selling well. One example is the Ram 1500 “classic” – which is the old version of the new Ram 1500. Ram sold both for as long as there was still enough interest in the classic to merit keeping it around.

The situation with the ’24 Mazda CX-5 is similar.

It’s still being sold alongside the very similar CX-50, which is newer (Mazda introduced it last year as an all-new model; you can read more about it here) and it likely will eventually replace the CX-5, which remains very popular even though it’s older.

As was true of the Ram classic vs. the new Ram, there are differences enough to consider a CX-5 vs. a CX-50.

And vice versa.

What It Is

The CX-5 is Mazda’s mid-sized crossover – and so is the CX-50.

They look very similar and share the same standard (and optional) drivetrains

So – what’s the difference?

The CX-5 is a little smaller – and rides a little lower. It’s also a little bit less expensive, with a base price of $29,300 to start vs. $30,300 for the newer CX-50, which made it debut last year. The CX-5 has been around since 2017 – in its current form – and longer than that overall.

It made its debut as an all-new model back in 2013.

There are also some trim/available equipment differences. For instance, the CX-50 is available with a Meridian package that includes a set of 18 inch wheels shod with all-terrain tires, as well as a special decal package.

The CX-5 is not available with similar equipment.

On the other hand, the CX-5 is available with a Carbon Edition package that includes a set of grey-anodized 19-inch wheels with short-sidwall sport tires, LED headlights that turn with the steering wheel, additional driving modes for the six speed automatic transmission and a larger driver information display.

The Carbon Edition stickers for $31,950 to start with the standard (non-turbocharged) 2.5 liter engine and AWD. If you’d like more power, a turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter engine is available. Equipped with this engine a Carbon Edition stickers for $37,000.

A top-of-the-line Turbo Signature with a 10 speaker Bose premium audio system, heated rear seats (and heated/ventilated front seats), heated steering wheel, power liftgate, wireless phone charger, a Heads Up Display and premium brown leather seat covers with matching wood interior trim lists for $40,600.

That’s about $3,000 less than the most expensive version of the CX-50, which lists for $43,300.

What’s New For 2024

The Carbon Turbo Edition mentioned above is new; otherwise, the ’24 carries over pretty much the same as it was last year.

What’s Good

Buy a CX-5 for $1,000 less to start than a very similar CX-50.

Standard six speed automatic transmission isn’t a CVT automatic transmission.

Both the CX-5 and the CX-50 are stylish crossovers.

What’s Not So Good

Least expensive trim with the desirable 2.5 turbo engine costs $8,500 more than the base 2.5 S trim.

Style costs space. Both CXs have less cargo space than other, more practically shaped crossovers in the class.

Infotainment interface is not intuitive and takes time to learn to use.

Under The Hood

The CX-5 and CX-50 have the same standard and optional engines. They also have the same six speed automatic transmission rather than a becoming-commonplace CVT automatic transmission. The latter is becoming common in the crossover class only because of the slight fuel-efficiency advantage CVTs have over automatics that shift through gears rather than vary through ranges.

Transmissions that shift are preferred by many buyers because they don’t feel as though they’re slipping – as some CVTs do. They are also (usually) less noisy and (historically) longer-lived.

Which brings us to the Mazdas’ – plural – standard 2.5 liter four cylinder engine. It’s a large-enough engine that it doesn’t need a turbo to make up for being too-small to adequately move the vehicle its tasked with moving – as is the case as regards some of the other engines in this class, which do need turbo assist.

It makes 187 horsepower – without boost. Which means it’s under less pressure to make power – and that (historically) correlates with longer service life and fewer expensive repairs along the way.

As a competition counterpoint, consider the Honda CR-V. It comes standard (and only) with a tiny – for a vehicle this size – 1.5 liter engine that needs a turbo to boost its output to 190 horsepower, about the same as the power made by the Mazda’s 2.5 liter engine, without resorting to boost. The CR-V also comes with a CVT automatic – and that (plus the smaller engine) is why the Honda advertises 29 MPG in city driving and 34 on the highway vs. 26 MPG in city driving and 31 MPG on the highway for the Mazda.

Which by the way comes standard with AWD. With its optional (extra cost) AWD system, the CR-V’s miles dips to 27 city, 32 highway. It’s a slight difference that doesn’t make much difference – to the owner. But it does help the manufacturer – Honda, in this case – up its Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers. And that’s why the tiny, turbo’d engine and CVT automatic.

Another rival, the Toyota RAV-4, still has a size-appropriate standard 2.5 liter engine that makes 203 horsepower – more than the Mazda’s 2.5 liter engine – and the Toyota also lacks a CVT automatic transmission (and eight speed automatic comes standard). It also posts 27 city, 35 highway – so it’s a pretty fair fight.

But the RAV4 no longer offers an optional engine. The V6 you used to be able to get is gone.

CAFE, again.

If the CX’s standard 2.5 liter, 187 horsepower engine  isn’t enough, there’s a turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter available that makes at least 227 horsepower – on regular unleaded. If you fill the tank with premium, the computer will sense the higher octane and up the boost and the power to 256 horsepower, knocking the 0-60 time down to about six seconds flat.

Interestingly, this more potent version of the CX doesn’t use all much more fuel: 22 city, 27 highway. It’s a difference of about 4 MPG overall, which isn’t a big price to pay for the extra 69 horses.

On The Road

What makes these crossovers different from all the others? That’s easy. The CX twins – fraternal, not identical – were designed by people who think that driving ought to be about  something more than transportation. A bus will get you where you need to go. But you don’t take the ride for the enjoyment of it.

You’ll enjoy taking these CXs – either one – for a drive.

In italics to emphasize what used to be meant by that. It does not mean lowing along with the herd. It means leaving the herd behind – especially in the curves, which is the place for people who like to drive. Anyone who has a right leg can push down on the accelerator. It takes something more to be able to keep your foot down when the road isn’t straight. For that, one also needs the right equipment – and these Mazdas are it.

Part of it being the six speed automatic, which doesn’t have too many gears and so isn’t constantly shifting. Part of it is the high-compression (13.0:1) which makes the standard engine a very responsive engine. The standard 2.5 liter engine is also a revvy engine, with a redline of 6,500 RPM.

And the turbo engine is a ballsy engine. That’s a quality lacking in the CR-V and the RAV-4, both of which are superb appliances – if that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something else, here it is.

Especially if you’re not looking for a mobile smartphone.

Yes, there’s an LCD display screen – but it’s wide rather than tall and it’s not in front of the driver. It’s off to his right and not a distraction from driving. In front of the driver there are things related to driving; these are called gauges – including a large speedometer in the center of the cluster and an almost-as-large 8,000 RPM tachometer to the left; both look eager to show you what the CX can do.

And there’s no ASS to be a pain in yours. The Mazdas’ engines do not shut themselves off at every red light and pause in stop-and-go traffic; they stay on until you turn them off. This alone makes these Mazdas more pleasant to drive than vehicles with pain-in-the-ass “technology” no one seems to want yet has oddly become standard equipment in nine-out-of-ten new vehicles, regardless.

Here, it’s not.

And while Mazda does include “driver assistance technologies” with every CX – including automatic emergency braking and lane departure mitigation, the former is so unobtrusive as to be unnoticeable and the latter can be easily turned off.

The chief difference between these two CXs is that the CX-5 sits lower to the ground (7.6 inches of ground clearance vs. 8.3 for the CX-50). It’s not a huge difference in terms of handling, though the extra clearance (plus the CX-50 Meridian’s all-terrain tires) make the CX-50 the better option for unpaved and not well-maintained gravel/dirt roads.

Regardless, both of these otherwise similar Mazdas are very different than the typical transportation appliance.

At The Curb

In addition to being enjoyable to drive, the CX-5 (and CX-50) are also nice to look at. They are  crossovers that don’t look like the rest of them. The front end is longer than usual – and relative to the rest of the CX – and this is more pleasing to the eye than the usual jellybean look most appliances have.

But style comes at a cost.

The CXs – both of them – have less room for cargo (30.8 cubic feet behind the second row for the CX-5 and 59.3 cubic feet if you fold the second row down) than more utilitarian-shaped appliances such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. The latter has 39.3 cubic feet of space behind its second row and 76.5 cubic feet all told. The former has 37.6 cubic feet behind its second row and 69.8 cubic feet in total.

But which of these would you rather be inside of?

Besides, there is still a lot of room for cargo in either of these Mazdas. 30.8 cubic feet is about twice the space you’d have in the trunk of a current full-sized luxury sedan – and you can still fold down the second tow to nearly double the space available.

The new-for-2024 Carbon Turbo package is only slightly more expensive than last year’s Turbo (no Carbon), which stickered for $36,850 vs. $37,000 (for the ’24 Carbon Turbo) and isn’t really even that when you factor in inflation. It’s also $1,000 less expensive than the least-expensive version of the CX-50 with the turbo engine, which stickers for $38,000 to start.

You can also get the Carbon’s visual upgrades – and its more aggressive 19-inch wheels with short-sidewall tires – without the turbo and for significantly less ($31,950).

The Rest

There is one significant functional difference between the two CXs. The CX-5’s maximum rated towing capacity – even with the optional turbo engine – is only 2,000 lbs. The CX-50 is rated to tow up to 3,500 lbs. when equipped with the optional turbocharged engine. Given how similar these two CXs are – including identical drivetrains – this difference is likely on-paper-only. As in a selling point for the CX-50.

But the CX-5 can probably pull just as much.

The Bottom Line

It’s nice to have the choice of not just one but two CXs – both of which share the same virtues but also offer something different, too.

. . .

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  1. When did this gov’ment of ours go to hell? an impossible one to answer directly; but just relating to autos…we really do get the bottom-of-the-barrel.
    why don’t we get Hybrid Diesels? Seems to me (limited knowledge) that they out-perform (efficiency/HP/etc.) the turbo-punching-outside-their-weight-class 4-bangers.
    To wit: the Mazda CX-60 eSkyActiv D https://www.dieselworldmag.com/features/mazdas-diesel-evolution-pioneering-the-e-skyactiv-d-diesel-hybrid/
    hate to sway away on another site. Whilst I am a normal red-blooded liberty-fighting American–through-and-through, and I detest hatchbacks, I would like this CX-60!
    What say you? Are Hybrid Diesels the cure for power-to-fuel-efficiency balance we semi-Luddites will settle for?

    • I agree, D –

      Hell, I’d like for the diesel-powered Toyota HiLux that’s for sale in Australia and other parts of the world to be available for sale here, too. But, nope.

      • well i will have to get a pair of birkenstocks and pink hairdye…those look like the ol’ subaru brat! joking aside–i’d still like one
        I listen to you on Bill Meyer Show every wednesday (big fan) and have heard you mention the Hilux a few times…they do seem like greats. thank you!

  2. While poking around on the Mazda site yesterday, I discovered that many of the CX-5’s being made do not have the awful auto start/stop or cylinder deactivation at the moment due to the chip shortage. But they promise to bring both back as soon as possible. Seems to me that they should leave that crap off of them permanently, along with all the other driver assistance safety crap.

  3. A friend of mind bought a CX-50 to replace his totaled 2019 Jeep Cherokee. I looked around and inside of the Mazda, and it seemed roomy to me. He got his CX-50 in that incredible Mazda red paint. I also noticed on the door jam sticker, that the vehicle was built alongside Toyota. That would explain why the quality of Mazda has shot up tremendously. They were garbage when Ford controlled them. Mazda seems to offer a lot of value, and for less money than Toyota. I think they are a very underrated brand now. Its nice they stick with a large 2.5L 4 cylinder, like Toyota. I wonder if they share the same engine block with Toyota, and add their own stuff around it (engine computer control, fuel injection, etc)?

  4. I like Mazda a lot. Tried to buy one of these, didn’t care which one, but our local dealer is not good, exaggerating costs well above MSRP with their games. Likely because there are no other Mazda dealers close. We walked.

  5. I had a 2010 CX-9 and drove it for 10 years. Only issue I had with it was the road noise seemed excessive. Otherwise had no issues with it.

  6. I had planned to get a new CX-5, but there isn’t any way to PERMANENTLY disable all that safety/driver assistance crap. I’d have to punch multiple buttons and scroll through menus every time I started the thing, which would just make me angry.

  7. I like Mazda cars. I actually owned one, a 2014 Mazda 6. I drove it to Colorado, Florida and many other places. I never had any problems with the car and it handled like a sorts car. The 2.5 4 cylinder engine was quick and responsive. The gas mileage was very good. It was a sports sedan for the not so rich. One of my my sisters in law referred to me as cheap.
    My son is on his second Mazda CX-5. He liked the CX-5 that much that he bought another. The pickup and gas mileage is quite decent. Plus it seemed to me that the Mazda salesmen are a very decent bunch without the BS that one would get at other dealerships.
    I am down to two cars presently. I used to own four but one was stolen and I sold the other one. I would like to own more cars but garage space, insurance and licensing are very expensive. As an example, for my two cars I currently shell out on a yearly basis approximately $ 2,400 full coverage. State and city license is about $600 yearly. That’s a shitload of money. Like I said I would own more cars but the government and Insurance mafia are very extortionist. And the funny thing is that I hardly put any miles on the two cars ( about 4 thousand a year avg.). I can only drive one car at a time.
    I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore. I should move out to a rural area and stop giving my money away to the local government when all the locals do is preach about social justice, systemic racism and White man guilty.


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