Citroen C5 Aircross Review
The Citroen C5 Aircross packs plenty of space and lots of tech into a stylish and comfortable package, but the infotainment systems in alternatives are easier to use
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Eye-catching looks
- Big boot
- Comfortable to drive
What's not so good
- Some low-rent interior bits
- Awkward infotainment system
- No four-wheel-drive option
Citroen C5 Aircross: what would you like to read next?
While most other car manufacturers are trying to build the equivalent of skinny jeans, Citroen has focused on making a decent pair of yoga pants. Let us explain. You see, So many modern SUVs try to be stylish and sporty, usually resulting in large wheels and an uncomfortable time. Not the Citroen C5 Aircross. Oh, it’s got plenty of style, but has put comfort first, which is excatly how it should be with an SUV.
In fact, against tough competition, it took home the carwow Comfort Award for 2019.
Not only that, but thanks to some neat design features, such as the intricate 3D brake lights and contrasting colour accents dotted around the body, the Citroen C5 Aircross looks considerably more interesting than its main alternatives the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and VW Tiguan.
Inside, based on looks alone, the C5 Aircross also trumps those cars – you get a neat, minimalist layout that you can personalise by choosing from a range of design and colour schemes for the interior. No matter what colour you pick, all models get excellent seats that are super comfy.
The comfort theme continues in the rear as well. There you’ll find three individual seats – something most similarly priced don’t have. This lets you move the seats forwards or backwards or recline them independently from one another so that passengers of all sizes can fit comfortably.
Even with the rear seats pushed all the way to the back, you have more boot space than in a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage. Move the rear seats all the way to the front and the resulting capacity rivals that of the larger Skoda Kodiaq – the Citroen C5 Aircross is a very practical SUV.
It’s not without fault, though. Start poking around the C5 Aircross’ interior and you’ll soon find a lot more scratchy plastics and loose fittings that you would in a VW Tiguan, for example. What’s more, the standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system has some rather gloomy menus and some of the features, such as searching for a radio station aren’t as intuitive as in alternative systems. Overall, the system in the Skoda Kodiaq is easier to use.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is perfect for putting your small child to sleep – it’s that comfy and quiet.
It’s easy to forget some of the interior drawbacks thanks to just how relaxing the Citroen C5 Aircross is to drive. A lot of alternatives rely on selective driving modes to give the illusion you’re driving a sports car, but the C5 Aircross does away with that and instead, is one of the most comfortable family SUVs on sale. While the C5 Aircross is comfortable on the motorway, it does a pretty good job manoeuvring around town, too. Thanks to an optional 360-degree camera, you can park with confidence, plus the steering in the C5 Aircross is nice and light making manoeuvres very easy.
A drawback of the relaxed suspension is that the C5 Aircross leans quite a bit in corners making it feel less agile than the slightly smaller SEAT Ateca, but that’s a small price to pay for the extra comfort you get over the Seat.
In terms of engine choice, the C5 Aircross gives the Seat a good run for its money as well. It’s best to stick to the 130hp diesel, equipped with the optional eight-speed auto – you won’t be winning any traffic light races but you’ll be rewarded with excellent fuel economy and the strong pull from low revs of the diesel fits the character of the C5 Aircross better than the rev-happy 130hp petrol. There are 180hp versions of both the petrol and diesel, but only go for them if you plan to carry passengers or luggage regularly.
Entry-level cars come with essential safety kit such as automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning as standard. An option worth considering for extra peace of mind is Grip Control – this gives you extra off-road driving modes which use the stability control system to help you out of a muddy campsite or a snowy drive.
All in all, there are alternative SUVs that are sportier to drive and have better infotainment systems, but none of them are quite as relaxed on the move as the Citroen C5 Aircross and arguably as good looking, making it a pretty unique proposition – if you’re looking for comfy family transport, it should definitely be on your shortlist
For a closer look at the Citroen C5 Aircross’ interior features, practicality and how it drives read on, or if you’re already set on it, make sure to check the latest Citroen C5 Aircross deals on carwow for the best price.
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ interior comes with plenty of soft materials, a slick design and a decent amount of tech as standard but alternatives come with better infotainment systems
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ clever sliding seats mean it’s great for carrying passengers and bulky luggage, but very tall people will still struggle slightly for headroom in the back
Watch how many people see your Citroen’s huge boot, or you may find yourself being asked to help out with a fair few house moves…
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ tall body and large front doors making getting in very easy – the doors also extend over the side sill, so you don’t run the risk of muddying your trousers as you can on some alternatives.
Once you’re inside, you’ll find there’s ample room in the front and the seats come with plenty of padding to help you get comfortable. All models come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and high-spec Flair Plus versions add electric adjustment, too. Unfortunately, even these more expensive models don’t come with lumbar support – to help prevent backache on long journeys – as standard.
Even with a six-foot-tall driver, there’s just about enough space for an equally tall passenger to sit behind them. There’s plenty of space for their feet and they won’t find their knees touching the back of the front seats, provided you’ve pushed sliding rear seats all the way back.
The seats themselves are very nearly as comfortable as those in the front, but tall passengers may find their heads brush against the Citroen C5 Aircross’ padded roof. They can recline their seats slightly to give themselves a little more headroom, but it’s still not as roomy as in the likes of the Skoda Kodiaq.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is excellent at carrying three passengers in the back at once. Each of the back seats can slide and recline individually as standard, and they’re all the same width so there’ll be no arguing over who has to sit in the middle seat on long journeys. There’s plenty of shoulder room, too, and there’s only a very slight lump in the rear floor so your central rear passenger has lots of space to put their feet.
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ large rear doors give you plenty of room to lift in a bulky child seat and the exposed Isofix anchor points mean you won’t have any trouble locking the seat in place. There’s also an Isofix mounting point in the front passenger seat as well. You won’t have to stoop down low to strap in a child either, thanks to the Citroen C5 Aircross’ tall roof and raised suspension, and there’s space in the back for an adult passenger to sit between two large child seats without feeling cramped.
Dotted around the Citroen C5 Aircross’ interior are plenty of storage bins totaling more than 30 litres in capacity. This includes a huge central storage bin under the front armrest.
Unfortunately, the front door bins are rather shallow and not particularly wide so they can only hold a few 500ml bottles. Those in the back are large enough for a 1.0-litre bottle each, though. The glovebox, despite a huge lid, is very small, because it also houses the fusebox.
You get a generous storage tray under the dashboard with a wireless charging pad for your phone and two good-sized cupholders just behind the gear lever. Unfortunately, because the Citroen C5 Aircross comes with three individual rear seats, your back-seat passengers don’t get a folding armrest or any cupholders.
The Citroen C5 Aircross musters up 580 litres of boot space with the back seats raised and in their most rearward position – that’s significantly more than the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage can manage. If you need to carry more luggage than passengers, the back seats slide forward to boost the C5 Aircross’ carrying capacity to 720 litres – exactly the same as the cavernous Skoda Kodiaq.
A set of golf clubs and a baby buggy will fit with room to spare and you can carry two large and two small suitcases with the adjustable floor lowered and the load cover in place.
If its flat-pack furniture you’ll be carrying, you can fold the back seats down in a three-way split to open up a completely flat 1,630-litre load bay. It’s almost the same size as the VW Tiguan’s boot and is easily big enough to carry a bike with both its wheels attached.
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ wide boot opening and lack of any awkward boot lip mean it’s a doddle to load up heavy boxes or oddly-shaped items. In fact, there’s space for three large boxes across the back seats with enough room left over in the boot for 12 small boxes and a pair of small suitcases. You get plenty of tether hooks and tie-down point to keep all this luggage in check.
Avoid the optional full-size spare wheel, and you get an impressive amount of space under the Citroen C5 Aircross’ boot floor to hide away a few extra bags. There’s isn’t quite enough space to store both halves of the split parcel shelf, though.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is impressively comfortable but you’d never call it fun to drive and the automatic gearbox can be slow to respond
Unlike many SUVs, the Citroen C5 Aircross doesn’t try to feel sporty to drive, instead, it focuses its efforts on being as comfortable as possible
You can get the Citroen C5 Aircross with two petrol and two diesel engines, and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
The most affordable models come with a 130hp petrol engine that’s most at home pottering around town. It won’t feel particularly fast, but it’ll be the cheapest version to run if you mainly do short trips or spend a lot of time in heavy traffic. It’s the only Citroen C5 Aircross that you can’t get with an automatic gearbox – instead, it comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox.
There’s also a 130hp diesel engine that’ll be worth considering if you do more driving on motorways and you’re sticking to a tight budget. It won’t be as nippy as the petrol engine, but It’ll cruise along quite comfortably at 70mph and won’t cost as much to run. It’s available with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. The latter does a good job blending each gear together but is a little slow to respond if you put your foot down.
The more powerful 180hp petrol and diesel engines are more expensive, but they’ll be noticeably faster and feel less strained when you accelerate hard to join a motorway or overtake slow-moving traffic.
The 180hp petrol is impressively quiet and has a decent turn of speed, but you’ll need to rev it more to accelerate as fast as the more relaxed 180hp diesel engine. The diesel models are also very quiet, especially at motorway speeds where they produce almost no noise or vibrations at all.
If you enjoy serious off-roading, bare in mind the Citroen C5 Aircross doesn’t come with the option of four-wheel drive. You can, however, spec the optional Grip Control which comes with a rotary dial that lets you choose between off-road driving modes and what it does is it uses the car’s ABS and stability control system to give you just the right amount of grip, to stop you from getting stuck. Think of it as a last resort rescue, rather than something that transforms the C5 Aircross into an off-roader.
The Citroen C5 Aircross is very easy to drive. You sit high up and the large windows give you a good view out over other cars. The rear windscreen’s quite narrow, but you won’t have too much trouble parking thanks to the light steering and (albeit rather low-resolution) reversing camera you get as standard in Flair and Flair Plus models. Manoeuvring through tight city streets can be tricky at times, but no more so than in any mid-size SUV.
The Citroen C5 Aircross’ suspension does a very good job of ironing out bumps thanks to a clever kind of shock-absorber that you won’t find in many alternatives. It does an especially good job of absorbing the jarring thud you’ll often feel if you don’t spot a pothole until too late, and it evens out the rumbling you’ll sometimes feel when driving over rough or pitted road surfaces. As a result, the Citroen C5 Aircross is more comfortable and more relaxing to drive than most family SUVs.
A side effect of its soft, cosseting nature, however, is that it tends to lean and wallow in tight corners. It’s not quite enough to make your passengers feel car sick, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as nimble as the SEAT Ateca when you’re carving through a series of twisting turns.
If you spend more time on the motorway than country lanes, however, you’ll appreciate how quiet the Citroen C5 Aircross is at speed. Sure, you’ll hear some noise from the tyres, but almost no wind or engine noise makes its way into the cabin when you’re cruising along.
Also helping to make the Citroen C5 Aircross very relaxing to spend time in are its many driver assistance systems. Blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking that’ll help prevent avoidable collisions come as standard on every new Citroen C5 Aircross and should also help it score highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
To really take the sting out of long journeys, you’ll want to pick a Flair Plus model. These come with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist that’ll brake, accelerate and even steer for you on well-marked roads – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.