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The Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV debuted in 2012 as a successor to the Tribute. Early models had a weak powertrain, but the CX-5 hit its stride after a few years of production. Newer CX-5 models often stand near the top of compact SUV rankings. So, which used Mazda CX-5 years are the best on a $20,000 budget?

Is a used Mazda CX-5 a good car?

Best Mazda CX-5, used Mazda CX-5
2018 Mazda-CX-5 | Mazda North Americcan Operations

In its “Best Used Compact SUVs $15K to $20K for 2023” roundup, U.S. News ranked a couple of used Mazda CX-5 years in the top two spots: 2018 and 2017. The CX-5’s sporty handling, exceptional fuel economy, and stellar safety ratings make later models worthy competitors in the compact SUV class. Add its robust, reliable engine and available all-wheel drive (AWD), and a used Mazda CX-5 is an excellent choice.

2018 Mazda CX-5

Standing atop the list is the 2018 Mazda CX-5, with an original MSRP ranging from $24,045 to $30,695. According to U.S. News, average used 2018 CX-5 prices range from around $19,642 to $23,125, depending on vehicle mileage, trim level, options, and other factors. Of the three trim levels — Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring — the well-appointed Sport presents the best chance to get a low-mileage model equipped with AWD. 

Standard CX-5 Sport trim equipment includes the following:

  • 7.0-inch infotainment display
  • Bluetooth
  • Two USB ports
  • Cruise control
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Push-button start
  • Cloth seats
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • LED headlights
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Low-speed forward collision warning with brake assist

Advancing to the Touring trim swaps the Sport’s cloth seats for synthetic leather upholstery with heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. Dual-zone automatic climate control and two additional USB ports attempt to keep everyone comfortable and entertained. Other upgrades include:

  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Automatic headlights
  • 19-inch wheels
  • i-Activsense safety package
  • Full-speed forward collision warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist

The range-topping 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring includes navigation, leather upholstery, and a power-adjustable passenger seat. In addition to those upgrades, it provides the following:

  • Power tailgate
  • Moonroof
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Adaptive pivoting headlights
  • LEDs for lighting

The optional Premium package adds a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a head-up display, but it’s available only for the top trim. 

Safety accolades include an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and a four-star overall NHTSA rating. The 2018 CX-5 has one recall so far, for the side curtain airbags. Ensure that an authorized Mazda service center fixes this issue before or soon after your purchase. 

2017 Mazda CX-5

Tied with three other compact SUVs on the list, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 sits in second place. Its average used price range is $19,043 to $21,595, U.S. News reports. Redesigned for 2017 and carried over for 2018, this CX-5 comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) and a 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. 

Because the 2018 CX-5 remained unchanged from the 2017 model, they are essentially the same. However, minor differences include the following:

  • The only recall for 2017 is for possible contact of the trailer wire harness with the car’s muffler.
  • The 2017 CX5 FWD gets 27 mpg combined, the 2018 FWD models get 28 mpg, and both years with AWD get 26 mpg combined.

Other excellent used compact SUVs for $15,000 to $20,000

The three other compact SUVs in that four-way tie for second place are the 2017 Kia Sportage and the 2017 and 2018 Hyundai Tucson. All three competitors have lower used prices but also fall short of the CX-5’s fuel economy. However, both are worthy rivals thanks to Hyundai’s and Kia’s superb warranties.