Best & Worst Mazda CX-5 Years

Avoid the costly mistake of buying a Mazda CX-5 from one of its worst years. This analysis shows you exactly which Mazda CX-5 years to avoid.

In this guide, I’ll analyze all Mazda CX-5 generations, pinpointing the best years for the Mazda XC-5 to buy and the worst Mazda XC-5 years to avoid.

Drawing insights from extensive sources, including NHTSA, J.D. Power, and direct owner feedback, I’ll provide a data-driven deep dive into the Mazda CX-5’s lifespan with aspects like owner satisfaction and reliability.

Expect a detailed breakdown of power train options, safety features, owner-reported reliability issues, and recall histories that distinguish the best Mazda CX-5 years from the worst.

Let’s plunge right in.

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Table of ContentsShow

Mazda CX-5 Generations

The Mazda CX-5 made its debut with its first generation in the 2013 model year, heralding a new era for Mazda with the introduction of its “KODO: Soul of Motion” design philosophy and the full suite of SKYACTIV technology.

This compact crossover was designed to combine fuel efficiency, engaging driving dynamics, and a versatile, stylish design.

Below is a comprehensive table outlining all generations of the Mazda CX-5 from 2013 to the present.

GenerationYears
1st generation (KE)2013-2016
2nd generation (KF)2017-Present

Understanding the generational changes of the Mazda CX-5 is crucial for prospective buyers and enthusiasts alike. Each generation signifies advancements in technology, performance, safety, and comfort.

Mazda CX-5 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When determining the best and worst years for the Mazda CX-5, we consider a multitude of factors in our rankings and categorizations, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

Observe the following graph, which compiles and presents combined ratings from the above sources.

Mazda CX 5 Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Below is a concise table categorizing the Mazda CX-5 model years into best, neutral, and worst years based on the compiled data.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (KE)2013
2015
N/A2014
2016
2nd generation (KF)2017
2020
2021
2022
2023
2024
N/A2018
2019

“Neutral Years” are generally considered to be dependable, albeit without the accolades received during the best years.

It’s important to note that several factors can contribute negatively, such as NHTSA recalls. A higher frequency of complaints and recalls typically indicates a lower reliability for the vehicle.

Now, let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst Mazda CX-5 years.

Best & Worst Years for Mazda CX-5 1st Generation (2013-2016)

Mazda CX 5 1st generation 2013 model
The 2013 Mazda CX-5

Launched in 2013, Mazda CX-5’s 1st generation was celebrated for its innovative use of the KODO design philosophy and SKYACTIV technology, positioning it as a stylish yet efficient choice for consumers.

2013 and 2015 are the best years for the first-generation Mazda CX-5, while 2014 and 2016 are the worst Mazda CX-5 years should be avoided.

The Best Years: 2013, 2015

With fewer recalls and complaints on NHTSA, 2013 and 2015 are the best Mazda CX-3 years of the first generation.

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 came with a Skyactiv-G PE-VPS 2.0-liter engine paired with a six-speed Skyactiv-Drive manual (standard in the Sport trim) or a six-speed Skyactiv-MT automatic transmission producing 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque.

The front-wheel-drive version boasted an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 26 city / 35 highway mpg, which was quite impressive for the segment.

Even the base Sport trim featured keyless entry, push-button start, and a 4-speaker sound system, while higher trims added features like a 5.8-inch touchscreen, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and advanced safety features, including blind-spot monitoring.

The 2015 Mazda CX-5 showcased a 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G PY-VPS petrol engine for the Touring and Grand Touring trims, elevating performance to 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque with a fuel efficiency of 25 city / 32 highway mpg (FWD).

It also saw the standardization of advanced safety features across all trims, such as automatic emergency braking, and the refinement of its infotainment system, introducing Mazda Connect with a larger 7-inch touchscreen.

The Worst Years: 2014, 2016

With the lowest Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores and the highest figure for NHTSA recalls and owner complaints, 2014 and 2016 are the worst Mazda CX-5 years, which I highly recommend avoiding at all costs.

The electrical system was a significant source of trouble in the 2014 Mazda CX-5, with numerous complaints about the vehicle unexpectedly remaining on despite the ignition being turned off, resulting in drained batteries.

Structural concerns were also prevalent, including unexpected shattering of the sunroof and windshield, which posed safety risks.

The 2016 CX-5 unfortunately didn’t fare much better, with it being the most criticized model of this generation.

It was beleaguered with various issues, from a glitchy infotainment system to defective LED daytime running lights, leading to a substantial recall.

Customers reported heating seat malfunctions and transmission failures, significantly impeding the driving experience.

Furthermore, complaints about abnormal brake pad wear and persistent problems with windshield cracking indicated unresolved issues from earlier models.

See NHTSA 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Mazda CX-5 recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Mazda CX-5 2nd Generation (2017-Present)

Mazda CX 5 2nd generation 2017 model
The 2017 Mazda CX-5

The second generation of the Mazda CX-5, introduced in 2017, brought significant design, comfort, and technology upgrades, emphasizing Mazda’s commitment to meet and exceed consumer expectations.

2017 and 2020-2024 are the best and most reliable model years for the 2nd-generation Mazda CX-5. I recommend you avoid the 2018 and 2019 Mazda CX-5 years in this generation.

The Best Years: 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

What is the best Mazda CX-5 model? 2017, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and the latest 2024 are the second generation’s best and most reliable Mazda CX-5 model years with excellent VehicleHistory, Cars.com, and J.D. Power ratings.

Under the hood, the 2017 model retained the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G PY-VPS four-cylinder engine from the latter part of the first generation, offering 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission.

Fuel efficiency remained competitive, with an EPA rating of 24 city / 31 highway mpg for the standard front-wheel-drive variant.

This year also marked the introduction of the G-Vectoring Control system, improving steering and stability, and a significant boost in safety features with the i-ACTIVSENSE suite, offering adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and collision mitigation.

The subsequent years, particularly from 2020 to 2024, continued to build on this excellence. Notable inclusion was the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with up to 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 model year introduced novel standard features like a larger 10.25-inch infotainment display and a distinctive off-road traction assist feature.

The i-Activsense safety suite was also updated to include advanced features like Smart City Brake Support Reverse and Driver Attention Alert.

The Worst Years: 2018, 2019

With substantially high numbers of owner complaints and recalls, 2018 and 2019 are the Mazda CX-5 years to avoid in this generation.

Owners reported multiple issues with the electrical system, the most notorious being the “ghost touch” problem where the infotainment screen would register inputs that weren’t made, leading to random selections or changes in settings.

This issue became so prevalent that Mazda extended the warranty coverage for the affected systems.

Additionally, there were complaints regarding excessive oil consumption, premature brake wear, and sometimes a cracked cylinder head, leading to oil leaks.

These years also suffered from several recalls related to the powertrain control module, which could incorrectly operate, causing the engine to stall, and fuel pump failures that posed fire risks.

See NHTSA 2018, 2019 Mazda CX-5 recalls and complaints.

Mazda CX-5 Average Resale Values

The graph below details the Mazda CX-5’s average resale values over different model years, a crucial aspect for potential buyers.

Mazda CX 5 Average List Price

Conclusion

Now that we have gone through the Mazda CX-5’s history, it’s evident that the 2017 model and post-2020 models are the best and most reliable years for the Mazda CX-5, ensuring a balance of innovation, reliability, and owner satisfaction.

What specific feature in the Mazda CX-5’s best years influences your choice: safety, fuel efficiency, or technology?

Share your preferences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.