CHOICE tested the five-seater Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport, six-speed automatic AWD with a 2.2L diesel engine - a luxury variant of the Mazda CX-5. We also lent it to CHOICE voting members Jim and Asimina who took their kids Adriana and Maria on a weekend test drive to the country and ran some errands around town.

Jim and Asimina say:

Accessing the rear seats is OK, however after putting in the child seats, we found there wasn't enough room in the centre for another person.

We didn't like that the window controls are in reach of the kids. The child seat anchors are easy to locate, mounted on the back of each chair.

Our kids didn't have enough room when the front passenger seats were pushed all the way back, though perhaps with smaller booster seats this may improve. When we lowered the rear cup-holder, the seat belts were quite difficult to access.

The boot space is too small for a weekend trip away. Fold-up chairs, umbrellas, picnic rugs etc quickly fill up the boot.

The car's power and performance are outstanding, and the vocal tutorials are useful if you don't want to wade through user manuals. The seat pocket behind the driver's seat is good as well.

There's no ideal place to keep regularly used items that people with kids tend to use in a car, such as wet wipes or tissues. The console in the middle tends to fill with CDs, pens and iPods.

CHOICE says:

Steering is very good, responsive and sharp, with a nice leather steering wheel. We think the fuel economy is pretty good but doesn't meet its claim, as per usual.

The six-speed automatic transmission works well, but it tends to hang onto lower gears a bit too long during a hard acceleration. The ride is sure-footed and on the firm side.

The interior is comfortable and it's fairly quiet in the cabin, even on coarse roads. The front seats are firm and supportive, and spare you the numb posterior many other seats deliver after a long drive.

The floor of the trunk can lay completely flat even with a full-sized tyre under the space. The rear seats fold down to almost flat.

There's good all-round visibility, even though the A pillars (the parts that hold the windscreen in place) are quite thick.

There is a noticeable kick from the SkyActiv i-stop feature, which stops and starts the engine at pauses such as traffic lights.

CHOICE verdict

For our member family, the Mazda CX-5's performance was great but it simply didn't have enough room for their family of four. Our tester was impressed with its seating and performance, especially with the effortless overtaking on the highway due to the torque of the diesel engine.

Details

Cost: from $43,703

Contact: mazda.com.au

Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 5.7L vs 7.7L

Acceleration to 100km/h: 9.0s

Braking distance from 60km/h: 14.3m

ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5