Mazda CX 5 Problems – A Good Purchase Or Not?

Mazda CX 5 Problems – A Good Purchase Or Not?

So, you are on the market for a Mazda CX-5 and you want to learn the Mazda CX problems? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to this Mazda model.

Performing good research before you purchase a new or used vehicle is really important for you as a future owner. You just don’t want to deal with vehicles that are of poor quality and vehicles that will make you lose a ton of money in the process.

Buying a car is an investment and you as a future buyer need to make a good investment. Imagine that you purchase a used car for $10,000. Then immediately something breaks and after a few months, something else breaks. Almost immediately, you can be $5,000 deep into that car only for repairs.

That’s why learning all the possibilities that are out there when it comes to problems will give you that extra edge and a bit of security when it comes to knowing what to expect from this vehicle. And we are going to help you out with that.

First, we are going to learn what is the Mazda CX-5. Then we will cover both generations of this model. We will discuss the specs, fuel economy, safety, and the Mazda CX 5 problems. Then we will give our overall reliability score for each of these models. Lastly, we will discuss the alternatives that are out there. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is The Mazda CX-5?

So, before we learn the specs and the Mazda CX 5 problems. Let’s first focus on the basics. What is the Mazda CX-5 and what are its main characteristics? Let’s elaborate.

The CX-5 is Mazda’s take on the compact crossover SUV market. This model is one of the few models that Mazda is selling in the US market and this model is competing with the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape. As you can see, the competition in this market is something insane and is difficult to beat all these car makers in all of the categories.

The CX-5 is performing fairly well when it comes to sales and steadily improves the numbers year by year. Starting from 43,000 units sold in 2012 when this model was introduced to about 168,000 units sold in 2021. A really hefty number of cars are sold here in the states. This tells you a lot about the popularity of the CX-5 in the US and the growing demand for this model.

What is important to note is that there are two generations of this model. The first generation was introduced in 2012 and was produced until 2016. In 2016, Mazda introduced a new generation for the 2017 model year. This is the generation that is currently in production. Meaning that the current model of the CX-5 is about 7 years old. But as of 2021, there was a facelift of the model with new styling and improved performance.

These models are including the Skyactiv technologies developed by Mazda that focus on the fuel economy and efficiency of these vehicles while delivering the best performance out there. But what about the Mazda CX 5 problems? We will get there, let’s first learn the specs of the CX-5.

First Generation Mazda CX-5,  2012 – 2017

Before we dive into the Mazda CX 5 problems. Let’s first discuss the specs of the first generation of the CX-5. Knowing the specs will make your life easier in terms of purchasing a car since you will be able to tell if this model is the right one for you or maybe not based on the power it makes and also the features it implements.

Nevertheless, the first generation of the CX-5 was introduced in 2011 for the 2012 model year. This model implemented advanced Kodo design language along with the Skyactiv technologies invented by Mazda. The first model was a good looker I must admit. It looked much more attractive than anything else back in the day.

Mazda CX 5 Problems

This model was available with both FWD and AWD. Normally, for the AWD you had to pay some extras to get it. But if you were not an off-road enthusiast FWD is the way to go.

In terms of trim levels, there were a few of them. The base trim was the Sport, then there was the Auto Sport, Auto Touring, with the Auto Grand Touring as the top trim.

In 2016 there was a facelift update for the Mazda CX-5 and here come the biggest problems for the Mazda CX-5.

So, what are the Mazda CX 5 problems? We will cover them in a bit. Let’s first learn what engines and transmissions were used in this model.

Engines And Transmissions

Before we learn the Mazda CX problems, let’s discuss more the engines and transmissions that were offered with this model. They are important to know if you want to purchase one of these models.

There were two engines on the Mazda CX-5. The first was the 2.0L straight-4 engine. This engine was introduced in the base model and is producing about 155hp and 150lb-ft of torque. Not a powerhouse. But it gets the job done.

The second engine was more powerful. This engine was a 2.5L straight-4 engine that produces 184hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. If you want something more powerful, this is the engine you need. Both of these engines are using the Skyactiv technologies by Mazda and also use direct injection.

In terms of transmissions, there were two of them available. One was a 6-speed manual transmission with an overdrive on the base model. The second transmission was a 6-speed automatic with an overdrive (to learn more about this, check out our guide on the meaning of O/D off). The automatic is probably the one you want if you want comfort. And the manual if you want reliability.

But what about the Mazda CX problems? We will get there in a bit. Let’s first learn more about the fuel economy this Mazda gets.

Fuel Economy

Now before we discuss the Mazda CX problems. Let’s first learn more about the fuel economy that you will get with this model. Fuel economy is one of the most important aspects that future buyers look for in a vehicle.

The 2.0L engine had a fuel economy of 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined. These are healthy numbers, to be honest.

The 2.5L on the other hand is getting quite similar numbers. With 26 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined fuel economy. Not that bad since this is a much more powerful engine that produces 30 hp more than the base one.

Overall, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt since these are the EPA numbers and were performed in laboratory tests. The real-world numbers are based on your driving and they can differentiate in a few mpg.


Now before we talk about the Mazda CX 5 problems. Let’s learn more about the safety of this model. According to the NHTSA, this model has an average safety score of 4 stars.

This model performed well in its tests but it wasn’t one of the best performers in its class. So, if you are picky, you might want to look for other models. Now let’s focus on the Mazda CX 5 problems.

Mazda CX 5 Problems

Now let’s discuss the Mazda CX 5 problems. Since we are here to learn more about these issues that this model has. We studied the internet and we gathered some important pieces of data on the model and now we are going to share it with you.

The early models of the CX-5 were troubled by faulty ignition coils. Many owners reported that they lost power while they were driving the car and the check engine light popped on. They reportedly solved this problem by installing new coils.

Another problem with this model was the rotors and pads that were not well up to spec from the factory and many owners have reported increased wear and tear on these components.

Another problem was the electrical components. The engine would shut off but the radio and headlights were still on. People had to place the car in park position a few times to solve this problem.

Another issue was with the engine that was lurching forward at a complete stop. This was attributed to the vapor purge solenoid.

The 2016 model has a problem with the daytime running lights. More than 49 complaints on this topic. The bulbs were simply flickering and malfunctioned very often. The price to pay for this problem was $1,000+ since the whole headlight has to be replaced.

The 2016 model also has premature brake wear and problems with the brakes. With more than 31 complaints.

Also, some owners reported that the windshields on this model are breaking too easily. With 22 complaints on this matter.

Some owners also reported Mazda CX problems with the automatic transmission. The transmission simply failed and had to be replaced with a new one.

Reliability Score Of The Mazda CX 5

We learned the Mazda CX 5 problems, now let’s see the overall reliability of this model. How good of a model the CX-5 is and is it worth purchasing?

The short answer is yes, the CX-5 is a relatively good model that has some downsides but still, it has great overall reliability. The engines if maintained perform really well as well as the transmission used in this model. Meaning that you will not have big problems with it.

Mazda CX 5 Problems

The biggest downside is the problem with the headlights with the facelifted model from 2016. This problem can cost a grand to fix. That’s why you need to be aware of this and make sure that before you purchase the model had this issue is sorted.

The overall reliability by some reputable magazines is 4 out of 5 for the CX-5 and we understand why is this the case. Still, there are some minor Mazda CX 5 problems that attribute to this score and if they are not a deal-breaker for you, this model is perfect for you.

Second Generation Mazda CX-5, 2017 – Present

Now let’s talk about the present generation of the CX-5 and the Mazda CX 5 problems. This generation of the CX-5 was introduced in 2016 for the 2017 model year.

This generation of the CX-7 had an overhauled design and a lot of new technologies. This model although carries the same design language, it carries some bolder design lines that accentuate the front grille even more. Improving the overall presence of the model. Overall, a great improvement in comparison to the previous generation in terms of looks.

Mazda CX 5 Problems

In terms of trim levels, the new generation kept the same trim levels. Meaning that a lot from the previous generation was carried through to the present one. You could choose between the Sport model, Touring and Grand Touring.

There is also an option to choose in terms of the drivetrain. There is a FWD option and a more advanced AWD for the ones who want to pay more and get the best. The AWD version of it is a decent off-roader. But are these Mazda CX 5 problems seem bigger than the ones in the previous generation? We will get to that in a bit. Let’s first learn the engines and transmissions used in the CX-5.

Engines And Transmissions

Before we discuss the Mazda CX 5 problems. Let’s see what engines and transmissions this model was equipped with.

Unlike the previous generation, this model came with only one engine and that is the Skyactiv 2.5L straight-4 engine with direct injection. This engine is producing about 187hp.

But in 2019 there was a turbocharged version of this engine was introduced. This engine produced 250hp. A healthy number I must admit. This is probably the engine you want if you want something really quick.

There is also a diesel engine offered in the CX-5. This engine is only available with the top trim Signature edition. This is a turbocharged 2.2L diesel that is producing 168hp and 290lb-ft of torque. A really torquey engine.

There was only one transmission option and that was the 6-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic.

Fuel Economy

Before we discuss the Mazda CX 5 problems let’s see the fuel economy numbers. The naturally aspirated engine is delivering 25 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined.

The turbocharged version is delivering 22 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg overall fuel economy.

The diesel on the other hand is delivering decent numbers. With 30 mpg on the highway, 27 mpg in the city, and 28 mpg combined.


The Mazda CX-5 delivered much better results on the crash tests than the previous generation of the same model. Exceeding in every parameter except the rollover where it only got a 4 out of 5. Meaning that the safety aspect of this model is relatively good and much better than the previous generation of the CX-5. But what are the Mazda CX 5 problems? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss next.

Mazda CX 5 Problems

Now let’s discuss the Mazda CX 5 problems. As you know, this is a relatively new model so the amount of issues is pretty small. But still, there are some things to cover on it as well.

Some of the owners have reported problems with the automatic transmission on the 2017 model. There 5 complaints in total on this and they say that the transmission vibrates in cold temperatures. This problem is most represented in cold climate countries like Canada and the North in the US. Unfortunately, there is no fix for this problem yet.

Also, there were owners who reported problems with the brakes on this model as well. They noticed squealing and other unpleasant noises that often happen.

Engine head issue on the 2018 model is also present. This problem appears on some of the CX-5 2.5L engines that have defects on the cylinder head. The head allows oil to leak and has to be replaced. What is worse is that this job is relatively expensive. So, watch out for this problem and make sure that your Mazda isn’t having this issue.

Oil ring failure on the first and second cylinder on the 2018 model. This engine also has some problems with the oil rings. They allow oil to pass through. Overall, an expensive repair. But this was only for the 2018 model. And here we finish with the Mazda CX 5 problems.

Reliability Score Of The CX 5

We learned the Mazda CX 5 problems of the present generation of the CX-5. Now let’s learn the reliability score of the CX-5. And the overall score of this model is fairly good.

Meaning that this model gets relatively good grades in every aspect. So, it is an easy 5 out of 5. But beware of the 2018 model and the reports of cylinder heads failing. You might want to avoid this year since there were some reliability reports on this model concerning that specific year. Overall, good purchase for your money.

SUV compact mid-size crossover interior design reliability

Also, make sure that you find one that is still under warranty with relatively low miles. This way, you will be sure that you don’t come across any bigger Mazda CX 5 problems that could cost you thousands of dollars.

If you think that the problems that the CX-5 has are too big of a bite for you. You might want to check out the alternatives of the Mazda CX-5. And specifically that we are going to cover in the following chapter where we will discuss three possible options besides this Mazda model.

Alternatives To The Mazda CX 5

We learned the Mazda CX 5 problems, now let’s learn the alternatives to the Mazda CX-5. The market is currently flooded with options when it comes to this segment and it is worth covering a few of them. This will be extra handy for the ones that are looking for a new or used SUV but not like the CX-5 in general. So, what are these alternatives to the CX-5?

The first alternative that would come to your mind is probably the Toyota RAV4. This SUV is one of Toyota’s best sellers out there and maybe one of the best vehicles in this segment.

The Toyota RAV4 is one of the SUVs that started this SUV craze and since then, a lot of people have purchased it. There are a ton of them on the second-hand market and they are really reliable vehicles after all with no major complaints. So, getting one might be the right option for you as a future owner.

The second alternative to the CX-5 that we are going to discuss is the Honda CR-V. The CR-V is another great seller and a really popular vehicle made by Honda.

This model is one of Honda’s best sellers and the vast number of vehicles sold by Honda are basically CR-Vs. What is good with these models is that they come with a CVT transmission that is extremely reliable and offers an extremely smooth driving experience.

And the last SUV that we are going to recommend to you is the Subaru Forester. This is another popular option that many people opt to purchase. Subaru is a really good purchase for a new car and you should consider this model as well.

Facts about Mazda CX-5 Reliability

  1. The Mazda CX-5 debuted in 2013 and is a compact crossover SUV with Mazda’s new design theme called “KODO – Soul of Motion.”
  2. The CX-5 has evolved into one of the best-looking crossover SUVs on the market, with a more aggressive and modern look that is popular with consumers.
  3. The CX-5 is a relative newcomer compared to competitors such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, with only two generations so far.
  4. The 2014 and 2016 model years of the CX-5 recorded more complaints than other model years, with the most common complaints being electrical problems, engine problems, interior accessories, and issues with the lights.
  5. The following model years of the Mazda CX-5 are recommended if you’re looking to buy a used compact SUV: 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021, as they have recorded fewer complaints over the years.
  6. The 2017 model year of the CX-5 received very few complaints, and issues were rare and inexpensive to repair.
  7. In 2018, Mazda added blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation to the CX-5.
  8. The 2019 CX-5 had more standard features, including a 250-horsepower turbocharged engine, wood accents, and leather upholstery, and received very few complaints about the engine and electricals.
  9. The 2020 and 2021 CX-5 model years have more significant changes, including lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
  10. Common issues with the Mazda CX-5 include faulty daytime LED running lights, windshield issues, engine failure, transmission issues, failure to shut off properly, and exploding sunroofs, with the most common problems being the LED daytime running lights, a creaking windshield, and brake pads that wear out faster than other components.

Conclusion To Mazda CX 5 Problems

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the Mazda CX 5 problems. We thoroughly dissected the topic and focused on both of these generations of the CX-5 and their specs. We learned more about their trim levels, engines and transmissions, safety, fuel economy, and other important parameters.

Then we focused on the Mazda CX 5 problems for each of these generations and learned what troubles them.

Overall, both generations are good performers. Still, the latter one is a bit better than the first generation in terms of safety and reliability.

Lastly, we discussed some of the alternatives that are available for purchase here in the US. These are the RAV4, Honda CR-V, and the Subaru Forester. Any of these vehicles is an excellent purchase as a new vehicle. But when it comes to the second-hand market, you will have to do an investigation on these models as well.

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