As a crossover SUV, situated comfortably between a sedan and a more heavy-duty SUV, the Mazda CX-5 models have always been equipped with moderate towing capabilities.
It’s only within the last few years that Mazda has made an effort to bump this number up, using the model’s increasing efficiency to raise the tow capacity.
If you’re looking into purchasing a CX-5, or are interested in knowing how much your current vehicle can tow, we looked into the full breakdown of each CX-5 model.
Read on for our overview of how much each variation of the CX-5 can tow, as well as some information on common towing situations in your Mazda.
Table of Contents
What is Towing Capacity for the Mazda CX-5?
Towing capacities for the Mazda CX-5 range from 2000-3500 pounds for all models. Most newer Outback models will tow close to 3500 pounds making it possible to tow smaller campers and popup campers as well as small boats.
Towing capacity refers to how much weight a vehicle can have hitched behind it while driving. This capacity stays the same no matter how the weight of your actual vehicle may vary.
Towing capacity is also different from a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR); this rating refers to how much cargo your vehicle can carry on its frame, regardless of whether it’s towing extra weight behind or not.
The Mazda CX-5 is one of the SUVs with a CVT transmission.
Braked vs. Unbraked Towing
It’s important to note that all of the towing estimates below refer to the braked towing capacities for the different versions of the Mazda CX-5.
Braked towing capacity differs from unbraked capacity in that it takes for granted that the vehicle you’re towing, whether it’s an RV or a boat trailer, has its own braking system.
This helps to relieve some stress from the braking system of your CX-5.
If your towing system is unbraked, you will probably be limited to towing 1000-1500 pounds below the listed towing capacity – otherwise, you risk dangers such as stressing your brake system, experiencing complete brake failure, and causing major damage to your car’s engine and suspension.
First Generation Mazda CX-5 (2012-2016)
NOTE: We just added a guide to the best and worst years for the Mazda CX-5.
The first generation of CX-5s had a few variations in technical offerings. They offered a SkyActiv engine using either diesel or petrol fuel, and a six-speed transmission with automatic or manual shifting.
Drivers also had the choice of all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive.
However, despite these variations, the first generation of CX-5s maintained a consistent tow capacity of 2000 pounds across all trims, whether Mid-Spec or Touring.
If your Mazda was made between 2012 and 2017, this is almost certainly its max towing capacity, unless it’s been otherwise modified to handle higher loads.
The first generation of the Mazda CX-5 had some problems though.
Second Generation Mazda CX-5 Towing Capacity (2017-2023)
With the second generation, Mazda took steps to improve the power of the vehicle, and offered an increased the towing capacity as a result.
More recent Mazdas with 22.L turbo engines top out with a tow limit of 3500 pounds, almost doubling the CX-5s previous capacity.
2018, 2020 and 2021 2.2L SkyActiv-D Engine
Mazda introduced the 2.2 diesel engines in 2012, with the first CX-5 model, but in 2018 they also produced a turbo version.
These diesel turbo engines are formulated for top performance, and deliver a towing capacity of 3500 pounds along with their increased acceleration speeds and clean performance standards.
For a crossover, this is certainly an impressive towing capacity, and gives you a pretty wide range of options when traveling with a load.
Mazda’s decision of whether to stick with the turbo diesel has been inconsistent, though, flip-flopping every few years.
It’s possible it hasn’t been popular with drivers, as buyers who really want greater towing capabilities opt for larger SUVs even at the price of lower fuel economy.
Regardless, the latest two CX-5 models haven’t offered the diesel turbo as a trim option.
It’s yet to be seen if Mazda thinks it’s worth keeping for the smaller CX-5, especially with the recent introduction of the comparable 2023 CX-50.
2017-2023 2.0L, 2.5L, and 2.5T SkyActiv-G Engines
If you have a Mazda that came out in the last 6 years and runs a SkyActiv-G engine – meaning it uses regular petrol – your maximum towing capacity is 2,000 pounds.
This holds true for all trim levels across the model years, from Base to Turbo Signature.
Does the Mazda CX-5 Always Have a Trailer Hitch?
All Mazda CX-5 models come with the option of a tow package – however, if you didn’t buy your CX-5 new, your vehicle may not be equipped with a trailer hitch.
Luckily, it’s easy to purchase an official trailer hitch from Mazda. You can check out your local dealership for advice or simply purchase one online. All CX-5s use a Class II receiver trailer hitch, and will likely need to be professionally installed.
How Big of a Boat Can the Mazda CX-5 Tow?
Exactly how large of a boat your CX-5 can tow depends on the model; the maximum range is between roughly 1500 and 2500 pounds.
What Types of Boats Can I Tow With My CX-5?
All CX-5 models will be able to handle any boat on the smaller side, including small fishing boats, skiffs, and even a couple jet-skis. These boats typically weigh less than 1500 pounds.
If you have a SkyActiv-D version of the CX-5, you may also be able to tow a larger boat weighing up to 2500 pounds, such as a mid-size fishing boat or pontoon boat.
When you’re deciding what the heaviest boat you may be able to tow is, remember to account for extra weights, including:
- The weight of your boat trailer (1,000 to 1,600 pounds)
- The weight of your fuel, if there’s gas in your tank (240 to 450 pounds)
- The weight of any gear on your boat (100 to 500 pounds)
Try to budget and extra 1000 to 500 pounds under the weight limit of your model, depending on how much your boat trailer weighs and whether or not your boat is fully loaded.
How Big of a Camper Can the Mazda CX-5 Tow?
Again, a recent diesel Mazda CX-5 will give you the most options for towing a variety of campers. With a capacity of 3500 pounds, it can safely pull most pop-up campers and even a small travel camper.
The diesel option will also comfortably tow items such as a small horse trailer.
If you have a standard engine CX-5, you can still easily tow your camping gear – as long as it’s on the lighter side. Great choices for these less heavy-duty CX-5 models include A-frame campers and the most lightweight of pop-up campers – try to look for anything coming in under 1700 pounds.
Again, it’s a good idea to account for extra weight that your camper might be carrying. Typical examples include:
- The weight of bikes, food, gear and other supplies (100-600 pounds)
- The weight of a generator (80-200 pounds)
- The weight of your (full) water tank (200-500 pounds)
Even if you’re the most efficient packer ever, you’re likely to be adding at least 500 pounds to your camper, and likely much more. Make sure to factor this in to avoid pushing your CX-5 to its limit for towing.
With the Mazda CX-5, you’re almost guaranteed to have at least lightweight towing capacity, making it a great option for the bite-sized adventurer.
While a few models do offer greater capabilities, Mazda seems to be de-emphasizing this feature in the CX-5, at least if you go by the trends of the past couple years.
However, even if you’re not planning on towing a very heavy load, it’s important to take the proper precautions and be aware of how to drive safely while towing. Common measures include allowing more time for braking and accelerating, as well as executing turns more slowly than usual.
In addition, while the CX-5s towing capacities are pretty easy to navigate, you can always check your owners manual for talk to your dealership for more information.