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Mazda CX-5 2022: big-selling midsize SUV facelift detailed

John Law

The Mazda CX-5 has been given a comprehensive mid-life update, with the refreshed design reaching Australia early next year.

Mazda’s redesigned second-generation CX-5 was revealed overnight in Europe, in preparation for its arrival in Australia in the first half of 2022.

Up until the current-generation Toyota RAV4, Mazda’s CX-5 was consistently Australia’s favourite SUV, right from the moment it appeared in 2012, so this midlife makeover is  particularly crucial for Mazda’s biggest-selling model.

Mazda CX-5 2022 front 3/4
Mazda’s most-popular model has been facelifted for 2022.

This 2022 instalment is the first major redesign for CX-5 since the second-generation model went on sale in April 2017, though Mazda has been fairly proactive with year-on-year updates to maintain the midsizer’s competitive edge.

Along with the obvious exterior changes, Mazda claims to have invigorated the driving experience with a stiffer structure and retuned transmission while addressing criticisms of road noise and seat comfort.

On the CX-5’s perpetual sales success, Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi said “a focus on constant improvement and evolution has helped Mazda CX-5 remain a favourite in Australia.

The CX-5 looks more handsome with new wheels and available body-coloured cladding.

“This latest update meets customer demand for self-expression and personalisation, addressing their style and lifestyle more acutely than ever before.”

How different is the 2022 CX-5?

Images of the updated CX-5 were leaked last week, though the hazy pictures of a white car captured by Autospy and Creative Trend made the changes look relatively minor.

Mazda’s press images of this red example, however, demonstrate CX-5’s thorough nose job. The ‘Kodo’ design language, first seen on Mazda’s 3 small car and latterly CX-30 small SUV is referenced clearly in the new grille and neater front valance.

It’s at the front where the new CX-5 is most noticeably different.

The grille also transitions more naturally into new ‘tear duct’ details which flow into new LED headlights, while a bunch of new alloy wheel designs complete the exterior makeover. 

Moving to the rear, the alterations are less dramatic – this is clearly still a gen-two CX-5 – though the sharper LED tail-lights with rectangular lighting signatures (as per the new headlights) do amp up its visual personality. 

Another difference on the 2022 CX-5 is the cladding, or rather the lack of it. According to Mazda, the high-spec Akera will adopt body colour wheelarch mouldings while other grades are to either retain the textured plastic from before or get classy gloss-black detailing.

Has Mazda changed the CX-5’s interior?

Like the exterior, the basic CX-5 architecture remains inside with the attractive cocooning cabin design we’re accustomed to from Mazda.

But there are some confirmed changes inside such as the inclusion of a comprehensive drive-mode selection for the first time in a Mazda product. The Mazda Intelligent (Mi-Drive) program should offer the usual Sport, Normal and Comfort drive modes, as well as the off-road mode added to CX-5 in March 2020. 

Mazda CX-5 2022 interior 2
The Mazda CX-5 retains its swish cabin design for 2022

Additionally, it appears as though the entire CX-5 range will transition to the larger 8.8-inch non-touchscreen display, a change first made earlier in 2021 to top-spec models.

Finally, inside the cabin Mazda has worked on further suppressing road noise, as well as improving occupant comfort with new front seats designed to cosset the S curve in the human spine.

What has changed mechanically? 

Feeding further into occupant comfort, Mazda has reportedly increased the body rigidity of CX-5, though without quantifying to what extent. 

Mazda CX-5 2022 rear
The new CX-5 is stiffer, with a more comfortable suspension tune

The CX-5’s suspension will therefore been retuned to suit, and with a stiffer platform to work from, it should offer a more supple ride while retaining its trademark keen handling.

Pushing further toward the quest for smoothness, Mazda says it has retuned the CX-5’s automatic transmission, which will presumably be a carryover six-speed torque converter unit.

As for engine options, it’s likely that the CX-5 will continue with the same four engines: expect a 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol on base cars, with a larger 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder accounting for the bulk of sales.

It seems likely the CX-5 will retain its current engine lineup with the large platform SUVs providing electrification

The 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine with 170kW/420Nm is likely to remain as the flagship engine, while the 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel will again provide a strong oil-burning alternative.

There’s no longitudinal straight-six slated for the CX-5, however, with Mr Bhindi confirmed the current mid-sizer will sit alongside Mazda’s “new generation, large platform SUVs arriving in 2022”.

Given the CX-5 is transverse-engined and predominantly front-drive biased, its architecture was always going to separate it from Mazda’s more upscale forthcoming models.

Further details on the facelifted CX-5, including Australian specification and pricing,will be revealed closer to its launch here during the first half of 2022.