Planning your summer holiday south and tossing up whether to bring a boat, perhaps some jet skis or canoes? If you haven’t towed anything before, the chances are you’re going to need some help. Towing weights aren’t the easiest thing to get your head around. There’s loads of terminology, there’s physics, and at the end of the day - a bunch of personal belongings being pulled by your car down a freeway.
So in answering the question: can a Mazda CX 5 tow a boat? It’s a little more complicated than you might think. While a new Mazda CX-5 may not be the towing car of choice, it does have a modest towing capacity of 1,500kg braked. But what does that mean and what would that look like in a trailer?
Here’s all you need to know about towing your gear on your next getaway.
What does towing capacity actually mean?
Essentially, towing capacity is the maximum weight your vehicle can pull while on the road. This could be anything from a trailer, boat, or even another vehicle. A vehicle’s towing capacity is made up of a number of different factors including the engine, brakes, transmission, axle, and frame.
What is braked vs unbraked?
There’s another thing that you should be aware of when eyeing off that trailer and boat. It’s the ‘braked’ vs ‘unbraked’ factor. This is actually rather important. If your trailer has brakes that are linked to your vehicle - your towing capacity (the weight your car can pull) is far greater. That’s because the vehicle doing the towing would otherwise have to do all the braking on its own. A car will therefore have two figures: an unbraked towing capacity and a braked towing capacity. So how does this all stack up with the Mazda CX-5?
Mazda CX-5 towing capacity
The Mazda CX-5 has a 1,500kg braked towing capacity and 750kg unbraked. But what do these official figures really boil down to? Well, if you’re hoping to haul a yacht, it’s probably not going to work. But, a jet ski, or some canoes, or a trailer of dirt bikes? Now you’re talking. But those official figures are more of a guide. Why’s that? Because a car is never driving on its own - it has passengers, luggage, modifications, some camping equipment, all this decreases the towing vehicle's power and thus impacts how much weight you can tow. Below are some key terms you’ll want to learn before you hitch up your trailer:
Kerb weight: the weight of an empty vehicle, with a full tank of fuel.
Gross vehicle mass (GVM): the entire weight of the vehicle, kerb weight plus passengers and equipment, fuel, etc.
Tare weight: the weight of an empty vehicle but only containing 10 litres of fuel - no passengers or equipment.
Aggregate trailer mass (ATM): the tare weight of the trailer plus all your belongings inside.
Gross trailer mass (GTM): the total weight of the fully-loaded trailer standing on its own axle.
Gross combined mass (GCM): the total weight of the towing vehicle plus the total trailer load. This is set by the vehicle manufacturer.
How does it all come together?
It all comes down to not going over your Gross Vehicle Mass. Go over - and it might get ugly. So remember all that luggage and camping equipment in the boot is actually, kilo for kilo, lessening the amount you can tow. Always check with the vehicle’s official towing capacity and likewise the tare weight of your trailer, then add on your gross payload to see if it all checks in below the legal limit. It’s always worth going to a weighbridge to make sure the entire rig is under the Gross Combined Mass.
I already have a Mazda CX-5. What can I tow?
Finding enough space in the boot can be hard if all your back seats are taken. It’s hard enough trying to imagine all the extra luggage in a roof storage capsule. All technicality aside, let’s take a look at what you can fit into that trailer.
Take this scenario: a couple of large tents (30kg), 4 dirt bikes (450kg), luggage for 4 (80kg), fishing gear (10kg), chairs and skis plus other camping equipment including food (100kg) - don’t forget the trailer itself at roughly 400kg, you’re still able to fit another 130kg before you hit the 1,200kg mark and need to start worrying.
But what about the boat?
If you’re really serious about boats, leave the real towing the Mazda BT-50. Can a Mazda CX-5 tow a boat better than the average mid-size SUV? Probably. But it’s still not your best bet. You’re better off letting the CX-5 do what it does best - get you quickly and effectively out of the city with a small camper, a fishing boat, or, shock-horror: no trailer at all. After all, there’s no fun traipsing around in a mid-size SUV with over a ton of extra weight - it’s not worth your time. For more about what the Mazda CX-5 does best check out the Mazda CX-5 Review.