21 October 2021

Used Car Review: Mazda CX-5 (2012)

AA recently reviewed a popular used car, the Mazda CX-5 2012 compact SUV, and compared it with the vehicle reviewed when it was first launched in NZ nine years ago.

Mazda CX5 2012 Side
Mazda CX-5 2012 Side
Mazda CX5 2012 Front
Mazda CX-5 2012 Front
Mazda CX5 2012 Rear
Mazda CX-5 2012 Rear
Mazda CX5 2012 Interior
Mazda CX-5 2012 Interior

In 2012 the AA attended the launch of the then all new Mazda CX-5, and we had one thought after driving the compact SUV for the first time out of central Wellington’s busy city traffic, towards rural Wairarapa: Impressive!

Interestingly out of all the models sampled that day, our pick of the range was the AWD 2.2-litre Diesel GSX, as it offered great all-round value for money.

Fast forward to 2021, while we don’t have the New Zealand new AWD GSX model, we do have the equivalent Japanese domestic model (JDM) variant, albeit with the most notable omission of all wheel drive. Japanese domestic models are often in many ways similar to the New Zealand new models but can differ somewhat in specs and model availability.

So how does the 2012 model now stack up in today’s used car market?

Ageing Gracefully

This was the start of the first generation, so you may expect it to look dated. However it doesn’t really show its age as we expected it to. We think some of the reasoning for this is that Mazda got things right from the get-go. Additionally this generation continued for some time, right up until 2017, simply because it was such a popular model. Even in the used car market today it is no slouch with 2033 sales at the end of September for 2021 year-to-date.

The CX-5 shares the same well established platform of both the Mazda 3 and 6, it measures in at 4540mm long and 1840mm wide, so isn’t overly large. Completely surrounding the CX-5 is a lower black plastic protective cladding that looks like it would offer great combat protection, especially useful to fend off wayward trolleys in the supermarket carpark.

The model we review was the XD variant, which features the same kit as the (JDM) 20S. This includes a sporty dual exhaust, 17 inch alloy wheels as standard and front fog lights neatly nestled in V shaped honey comb effect shrouds. This same pattern was also repeated in the front grill, which was encased with plenty of chrome treatment.

When we stand back and look at this models overall profile we can see that it’s styling has influenced many other manufactures of today such as MG and Haval.

Organised quiet interior

When we first reviewed this model we were impressed with the magic Mazda had achieved in the NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) department. We can say that this is still the case even with this diesel variant, and after all these years on, the road noise level in the cabin is still very low.

The Interior is well constructed and all the surfaces seem robust, but perhaps quite dark for some tastes. The steering wheel is wrapped in quality leather and has stood up well, there are also convenient controls for the audio system, which are mounted neatly to the left within the steering wheel.

The dashboard is accented with a large strip of glossy black trim - this is still a popular touch in many vehicles in the market today. The instrument cluster is very conventional with a classic three ring look, the speedometer is mounted front and centre, while the tachometer and other information is left to the side rings.

One of the interesting features is a side view monitor, which can be accessed by pressing a button beneath the climate controls. This illuminates a small hidden screen in the rear view mirror to offer a generous view down the left side of the vehicle - a great feature to use while tackling tight car parks.

You will not find any USB ports for charging in this 2012 model, but there are two handy cigarette lighter ports one under the climate controls and another in the centre console, these can be used with a simple USB charging adaptor to charge your mobile devices.

Onto the seating arrangements, while not the sportiest of seats they are well built seats that are supportive, the rear row also offers good legroom for two adults, however three may be a bit of a squeeze, especially when doing longer journeys.

The boot space is fairly generous for the segment with 403 litres of cargo space, this would fit three suitcases with ease. The rear has another trick up its sleeves the seat splits and folds - this means the cargo area can expand up to a huge 1,560 litres; this can be done easily thanks to ingenious levers mounted on either side of the boot.


Three different engine choices are available for 2012, however the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine performs exceptionally; as well as it did all those years ago, the engine produces a reasonable 129kW and 420Nm of torque. Overall it felt more than capable and we didn’t experience much turbo lag. You can tell a lot of effort has gone into making this model feel more like a petrol model than a diesel.

The CX-5 also uses SKYACTIV-D Technology in its engine along with i-stop, which is a stop-start system that automatically shuts the engine off when the car is stationary in order to enhance fuel efficiency.

The transmission in this 2012 model was very smooth considering the age and mileage it had done, and the shifts were still sensible, while the model we reviewed was not an AWD variant these are available, and might be a better choice if you want to do some mild off road driving.


The Mazda CX-5 hasn’t aged badly at all and was a very good answer to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV in 2012. In recent years their success continues to grow, over all we don’t have many complaints about this model and it’s really well worth a look if you are looking for a family SUV.

If you find yourself doing many shorter trips you could find the CX-5 petrol models work out a tad cheaper and could be better suited. Click here to read our review of the 2021 Mazda CX-5.

At a glance

Model and year

Mazda CX-5 (2012)



Date reviewed



$16,490 (+ORC)


2.2-litre Turbo Diesel


Six Speed Automatic

Fuel economy, CO2

5.37L/100km (TC-V), 141g/km

Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety features include:

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Airbags including curtain
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • i-stop
  • Side Camera

For more information on safety ratings visit rightcar.govt.nz

Choosing your next used car?

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Thank you to AA Preferred Dealer Portage Cars for supplying us with the 2012 Mazda CX-5 for review. For similar listings, click here.

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