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Volvo XC60 vs Mazda CX-5: SUV face-off

July 01, 2015 by

The CX-5 has been a real success story for Mazda over the last few years, and the latest facelift should only enhance its appeal. It brings the fight to the Volvo XC60 – the smaller brother of the well-respected XC90.

There are an awful lot of similarities between these two midsize SUVs, most notably they’re both a very similar size. Here’s our lowdown on these two rivals to help you decide which one is the better buy.


The XC60 is a little bland to look at compared to the CX-5, and doesn’t have the latest styling language used on the XC90. While Volvo is making great strides in getting away from its reputation of producing incredibly safe but aesthetically-challenged vehicles, the XC60 isn’t going to set too many pulses racing with styling.

Like the Volvo, the Mazda isn’t going to take anyone’s breath away with its exterior looks, but it’s definitely more interesting than the XC60 thanks to its sharp body creases and angular headlights.


When it comes to space and practicality, both cars score well. There’s plenty of room for four adults to sit in comfort on long journeys, but a fifth adult is a bit of a squeeze in both.

The Mazda offers more overall passenger and cargo capacity than the Volvo, although there isn’t a lot in it. However, if you fold the rear seats down, there is a little more room for those awkward loads in the Volvo than you have in the Mazda.

Both interiors feel pretty high quality, but you do get a little more standard equipment with the Mazda. Although the CX-5 offers plenty of luxury in higher trim levels, the Volvo has a more premium feel to the cabin throughout the range.


If you are committed diesel lover, you’ll find yourself well served by the CX-5. The 2.2-litre diesel unit comes in 147 or 173hp guises, while there’s just a single 162hp petrol offering.

The most popular combination is the 148bhp diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox and two-wheel drive. This set up delivers more than adequate performance, but with outstanding fuel economy of 61.4mpg.

The Volvo offers two different D4 diesel engines – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with front-wheel drive and a 2.4-litre five-cylinder with four-wheel drive. The D5 has the same 2.4-litre engine, but tuned to deliver more power. If you do without four-wheel drive, the newer 2.0-litre diesel is probably the one to go for.


The CX-5 rolls a little when you turn into a corner, but the tyres absorb a lot of vibration from bad surfaces as long as you haven’t opted for the larger alloys. The weighting and response of the controls is perfectly judged, so you can be confident it’ll behave exactly as you expect it to.

Despite the Volvo’s fairly numb steering, it delivers a smooth ride with plenty of grip. When you enter corners in the XC60 it feels pretty well controlled, but it does have more body lean than the Mazda.

If you go for an R-Design model, you’ll enjoy tighter body control and sharper steering, but you’ll also sacrifice some comfort to get it. Standard models therefore represent a better option if you’re buying for the family.

Value for money

It’s pretty hard to suggest the XC60 represents good value for money. Even base models cost an awful lot, and resale values are average at best. It has a premium feel, especially inside but, for some, it doesn’t have the badge to make you look past the purchase price.

With the CX-5 costing so much less than the Volvo without it feeling in any way a poor relation, it’s easy to say the Mazda is better value for money. It may not have quite as classy a feel to it as the Volvo but, with so little to separate them from each other, the CX-5 is a clear winner when it comes to value for money.


When it comes to choosing between the two, the Mazda is slightly better looking but the Volvo has a nicer cabin. Both are relatively cheap to run, especially in two-wheel drive form, but the considerably lower cost of the Mazda makes it a clear winner when deciding between them purely on value.

If you prioritise absolute comfort and refinement above all, however, then test drive the Volvo because its smoother driving experience might be the blessing you’ve been waiting for.

What next?

If you’re taken with either of these options, spec up either the Volvo XC60 or the Mazda CX-5 in our car configurator. For more options, check out our deals page or, if you’re struggling to pick a car, head over to our car chooser.