2021 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport (car review)

“Create a car that suits everyone’s needs” must have been said by a Mazda executive at their HQ in Hiroshima at some point, because they came up with the Mazda CX-5 range, and today, we’re focusing on the Maxx Sport (2WD).

A tier up from the entry level CX-5 Maxx, which is also 2WD, the CX-5 Maxx Sport is the top of the front-wheel drive range and gets a few extras over the base model, including LED fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, paddle shifters and satellite navigation.

The entire CX-5 range is hugely popular, and is currently the second-best selling mid-sized SUV in Australia behind Toyota’s RAV4. That’s why almost every other car on the road is a CX-5, or some sort of Mazda SUV.

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The Maxx Sport is powered by a 2.0-litre inline 4-cylinder engine which delivers 115kW and 200Nm of torque to both front wheels, with no option of a diesel. Choosing an AWD offering from the CX-5 range gives you alternatives though.

These include the bigger displacement 2.5-litre engine, or a 2.2-litre diesel. It handles well for a mid-sized SUV, never feeling overly boaty around tight corners, regardless of the lack of bolstering on the seats.

But if you’re just cruising along, it’s comfortable as can be thanks to the larger profile tyres on the standard 17-inch alloys, with little cabin noise until you plant your right foot into the accelerator pedal.

The lack of responsiveness here feels a little uninspiring and we found the Maxx Sport’s engine to be quite noisy. This is especially so when you find yourself flat-footing it just to get away from a standstill at a decent pace.

There’s also a strange whine from the engine which is reminiscent of a supercharger, but we can guarantee you that this car is naturally aspirated. The engine is mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic transmission with Skyactiv-Drive technology.

It does the job around town, but if you’re looking for performance, you’re not going to find it here. With all that said, we now have an excuse for our poor fuel economy during our test of 9.2-litres/100km.

That’s compared to Mazda’s claimed combined economy of 6.9-litres/100km. This was also in part due to few highway trips, and lots of starting and stopping on shorter trips. But hey, we weren’t driving the CX-5 like it was a race car, we would never.

We’re much more sensible than that. Besides, that’s not what it was made for. The CX-5 was built for functionality and that is where it excels.

The front row of the cabin interior is spacious and comfortable. Sure the seats are cloth-trimmed but on the plus side, they won’t feel like you’re sitting on lava during those hot summer days.

There’s plenty of legroom and headroom in both rows and the plastics, knobs and dials don’t feel cheap. The finish throughout the interior of the Maxx Sport is actually quite good.

You’ll miss out on a few conveniences such as electric seat adjustment and electric tailgate, but at least you’ll get an auto-dimming rear view mirror and paddle shifters.

The lack of a digital speedo was a tad frustrating though, as we spent a good five minutes idling the car while searching for it by pressing every button possible on the leather steering wheel and centre console, all to no avail.

Instead, you’ll be stuck with an array of trip information and fuel consumption meters. There’s also an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit protruding from the top of the dashboard to finish off the dark interior.

DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all included. And when it comes to safety features, Mazda’s i-Activsense technology is right up there.

Adaptive cruise control, automatic door locking and unlocking, driver attention alerts, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist are just a few of the multitude of safety features included in the Maxx Sport, earning it a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tethers available in the CX-5, so we took the opportunity to set up an infant’s seat in the second row.

There’s plenty of room for a child seat in the second row, assuming you’ll be using the left-most seat, because it will basically disable the front passenger seat unless your passenger is shorter than 150cm.

So, while there’s not much mid-cabin space for infants, there’s plenty of boot space, with 442-litres with the second row in use, or 1342-litres with the rear seats folded down.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to utilise this available space, but perhaps you will when you decide to buy one, right after you finish reading this article. The 2WD Maxx Sport is priced at $36,490 excluding on road costs, compared to $39,490 for its AWD counterpart.

Mazda offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty. It’s easy to see why the CX-5 is such s strong contender for the best-selling SUV on the Australian market, so if you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon like a good portion of Australia has, now is the time.

Our 2021 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport was supplied by Mazda Australia. To find out more, contact your local Mazda dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - spacious and comfortable interior; lots of safety features; decent value for money; drive is very comfortable.
Cons - underpowered engine; lack of digital speedo; controlling safety tech; no diesel option.
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual is an avid enthusiast of all things JDM, from the legendary powerhouses to the old school kei cars. He has a passion for modification and making his cars look like they belong on the track. But they never actually make it there.


  1. I really do not understand RAV at No1 and CX5 at No2 in sales. I reckon CX5 is No1 for BLAND with RAV at 2. Everything else looks better and drives better, and costs less.

    • Sales data has a lot to answer for. I wonder if people are chasing the ‘reliable’ nature of the Toyota and Mazda, rather than looks, driveability and price.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> spacious and comfortable interior; lots of safety features; decent value for money; drive is very comfortable.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> underpowered engine; lack of digital speedo; controlling safety tech; no diesel option.2021 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport (car review)