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Some vehicles earn repeated awards so often that consumers almost expect them just keep winning. And if you’re a fan of the Mazda CX-5, you already know that it enjoys a view from the top. It’s almost a regular occurrence for the CX-5 to earn 10 out of 10 with critics like Car and Driver.

But for 2022 and 2023, the Mazda CX-5 appears to have lost its way. And even more puzzling is that these model years experienced refreshed designs and improvements. Additionally, it’s a best-selling SUV for Mazda. So how is it that this winningest Mazda contender finally lost its perfect score?

A red 2023 Mazda CX-5 compact SUV model driving at night with its headlights on
2023 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda North American Operations

This Mazda model has had a perfect score since 2017

When you’re in the SUV market for an artfully crafted interior, a sleek exterior, exquisite handling, and peppy performance, you can’t avoid the Mazda CX-5. It’s a dreamy contender that routinely outpaces its competitors in both athleticism and upscale touches.

But don’t just believe the hype. Check out the stellar reviews and high marks the CX-5 earns from industry critics. Car and Driver teams rated it with a perfect score nearly every year, all the way back to 2017. Its appearance then seemed “all-new,” according to the Car and Driver review. But it really was just a “heavily revised version” of the previous-gen model. And still, the CX-5 was perfection.

Why the refreshed Mazda CX-5 lost steam

Don’t mistake a lower score and dethroning for subpar or dismal. The 2022 and 2023 Mazda CX-5 models are still well-designed, fun to drive, and attractive in price. But Car and Driver bumped both to 9.5 scores instead of their previously held perfect 10s. Here’s what the Car and Driver team points out for both models.

In the case of the 2022 Mazda CX-5, expect a mainstream and affordable SUV with all the feels of luxury and premium amities. It’s a far more upscale option than others in its class, and it equally balances delightful, functional, and luxurious aesthetics.

But the non-turbocharged engine lacks slightly in the towing department, only pulling up to 2,000 pounds. And if cargo matters to you, Car and Driver says this CX-5’s capacity is unremarkable at best.

As for the 2023 CX-5, prepare to be wowed with all the refinement and impeccable road manners of its model predecessor. But Car and Driver lands a thumbs down response to the CX-5’s rear seat legroom, the less-than-competitive towing, and mediocre cargo.

It’s still a stellar SUV and best-selling model

The towing capacity and limited cargo space might have cost the 2023 Mazda CX-5 its perfect 10. But it did still earn a 9.5 and continues to be a top-selling SUV for a reason.

For starters, you can choose from eight trims, including the 2.5 S, the 2.5 S Select, the 2.5 S Preferred, the 2.5 S Carbon Edition, the 2.5 S Premium, the 2.5 S Premium Plus, the 2.5 Turbo, and the 2.5 Turbo Signature. Most of these come equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower. The Turbo variations enjoy 227 horsepower. And all of these trims come with six-speed automatic transmission and AWD standard.

There are plenty of goodies with even the base model CX-5, including push-button start, Apple and Android connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, and Mazda Connected Services for a free, three-year trial. Safety is a priority, too, with comprehensive driving aids like blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, and lane departure mitigation.

And if you pull out all the Mazda stops with the Turbo Signature, prepare for luxury in a big way. Range-topping amenities include leather upholstery, wood trim, navigation, 360-degree camera views, parking sensors, and rear auto braking.

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 ranges in price from $28,075 to $41,025. And while it finally lost its perfect score from one critics, it’s still a worthwhile SUV with plenty of exciting features and perks buyers love.


2023 Mazda CX-5 Has 1 Giant Advantage Over Honda CR-V