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Mazda is the top selling brand of cars in Australia to private buyers, but I knew little about them other than I admired some for their beautiful deep “Soul Red” colour paint! So I was very excited to get my hands on the Mazda fleet and give them all a thorough trial for BabyDrive, starting with the 2018 CX-5, and find out why everyone’s buying them!!

Unfortunately the car I tested came in boring white!!

My initial thoughts were “what a nice looking vehicle from the front and I love the nose on this thing!” The 2018 CX-5 we got to test was the top spec model so I was expecting it to be as impressive on the inside, however, I was a little underwhelmed! The 2018 CX-5 was rather neat, tidy and pleasant but there was certainly no wow factor with the interior.

Storage inside the cabin is rather thoughtful; with good useable sized cup holders in the front and back, wells in all the doors and the door bins are large enough for big refillable water bottles. Mazda has given thought to the positioning of phones and charging for front and rear passengers, with a rubber tray in the central console or a shelf and USBs in the central console storage box and in the rear, the central armrest has a hidden compartment with two USBs and a tray for charging phones.

The BabyDrive features that impressed me most in the 2018 CX-5 were in the boot! The cargo blind attaches to the boot door and so when you open the boot door the blind goes up with it. Genius!! This stops the cargo blind hanging down into the boot whilst you are loading and unloading the boot like all other cars I have tested.

The second is two plastic flaps that cover the space between the cargo blind and the seat backs. These simple pieces of plastic are sprung so if you recline the rear seats they move to cover the gap and they also move to allow you to post the top tether straps through to the boot. I have had so many cars that I cannot get the strap through and have to pull the seat back forward. Or the gap between the cargo blind and seats is covered with a complicated and impractical design.

The boot was adequately sized, holding 13 shopping bags and depending on the needs of your family, it would hold all three size prams or strollers. The Mountain Buggy Duet fitted widthways with three shopping bags, the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle again widthways with five shopping bags and the Mountain Buggy Nano fitted with 11 shopping bags around it. You could fit a medium sized dog in the boot with comfortable room for a few shopping bags beside it.

The 2018 CX-5 has three top tether points in the back of the seatbacks easily accessible from the boot, and all three seat backs fold forward individually too. There is ISO Fix in the two outer seats; they are concealed within slits in the leather seat upholstery. I found them a little tricky to connect to as I was navigating the seat leather too but all connected fine.

I was surprised to find I could fit three child seats across the back row! I didn’t think the CX-5 would be big enough tbut I got a Mountain Buggy Protect infant capsule on one side, a Britax Unity infant capsule on the other and a Britax Maxi Guard Pro booster seat in the central seat. So if you have twin babies and an older sibling you would get them in. I couldn’t use the ISO Fix as I needed to bring the child seats further out to the edges of the seats so I used the seat belts with the top tethers, which worked really well.

The CX-5 was not a particularly noisy car to drive, but the engine was a little lurchy and strained a bit uphill. It was responsive and accelerated well though. I found it simple and practical to drive around town and I never really had to think about anything.

When you are fully laden with three child seats or the rear headrests up, the visibility out of the rear window is very limited and I found myself relying on the rear camera. But when the media screen is so small and not the highest resolution, this is not a good thing!

Visibility was also impaired in the front by the front side pillars and the wing mirrors. The pillars create a huge blind spot that you could easily not see an oncoming pedestrian or car in it and I particularly struggled when turning at junctions and roundabouts to see confidently that nothing was coming.

Mazda does have another great BabyDrive feature in the CX-5, the parking sensors and auto engine cut out (called i-stop in the CX-5) can be turned on and off with buttons by the driver's right knee and they stay off for all journeys until you turn them on again. So you do not have to remember each time you get in the car to turn it all off so it doesn’t wake your baby! I did find when the engine turned off at the lights it wasn’t actually too disturbing for my daughter the CX-5 starts and stops gently and with little noise or motion.

Mazd’s do not have Apple Car Play or Android Auto, which I found disappointing. The media system seems outdated, and the screen is small. Also ,the CX-5 has a joystick in the central console to control the screen with which I just found hard to navigate and use as you are never sure if you are supposed to press, turn or nudge the stick for each command!? A lot of the necessary options wouldn’t work while you were driving too which I found frustrating!

Overall I found the 2018 Mazda CX-5 to be a practical and pleasant car to drive, which I imagine is why they are so popular. It wasn’t a wow car in any way and definitely didn’t feel like there was anything special about it but in its range, it felt like a good quality interior, with thoughtful storage, adequate boot storage and fantastic cargo blind features!

The Mazda CX-5 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

BabyDrive Indepth

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. In testing it scored 80% for child occupancy protection (39.4 out of 49), 95% for adult occupancy protection (36.5 out of 38), 59% for safety assist technology (7.1 out of 12) and 78% for pedestrian protection (32.8 out of 42).

The 2018 Mazda CX-5 has six airbags as standard. Both front passengers get front and side airbags and side curtain airbags extend to the rear passengers as well.

As standard, the 2018 Mazda CX-5 comes with anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB). Along with emergency brake assist (ABA) and emergency stop signal (ESS), forward collision warning, reversing collision avoidance and secondary collision brake assist.

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Mocka nursery furniture
Tace Clifford
About Tace Clifford
Tace Clifford founded BabyDrive in 2017 after discovering a huge information gap in mainstream car reviews that left new parents and expanding families in the dark when it came to one of the biggest purchasing decisions of their lives.


  1. Hello, Baby drive,

    Your videos and reviews are very useful and address all the areas of concern for every new parent to be.
    I had a query which I hope you might be able to advise on:
    Once a single car seat is fitted on the extreme left or right seat, is it comfortable for an adult to sit on the middle seat?
    Or I would rephrase this as: After fitting one car seat on the left side, can 2 more adults sit comfortably in the car for a long drive next to the car seat?

    Thank you again.

  2. Could the Mazda CX-5 fit two slim booster seats and a rear facing infant seat (3 altogether)?

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