We're already seen how Mazda's largest crossover, the CX-9, does at stuffing luggage inside its cargo hold. Now it's time for the next rung down the Mazda ladder. The Mazda CX-5 has 30.9 cubic-feet of space behind its raised back seat, which on paper, is considerably less than its top competition. The Hyundai Tucson leads the way with 38.7 cubic-feet, the Honda CR-V (39.2) and Toyota RAV4 (37.5) are basically the same, and the Subaru Forester has between 33 and 35 depending on options. However, the CX-5 does have more than the Chevrolet Equinox (29.9), Jeep Compass (27.2) and Ford Escape when its sliding back seat is in its aft-most position (33.5 when all the way forward).
Basically, this compact Mazda's cargo area is midpack, which makes it a good choice for my first luggage test of the segment. Let's see how much of the luggage in my garage fits inside. As a refresher, I use two mid-size roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife's fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).
I started by keeping the cargo cover in place to see how much fits underneath it. The answer is the four largest bags. The two smaller ones did not.
OK, now let's remove the cargo cover, which is an unusual design. Rather than a roller-type cartridge that you manually pull into place or a rigid hatchback-like unit that rises up when the liftgate goes up, the CX-5 basically combines the two. The forward bit is attached to the liftgate and unspools when opened.
To detach it, you need to unfasten these plastic clamps and then remove the cartridge reel much as you would a normal cargo cover.
OK, and now here's how much the CX-5 can fit with the cargo cover removed.
All of it! That above configuration is just the first thing I came up with, but there's likely additional Tetris formations to be found. Note that the tailgate does close here but the middle cases' wheels are awfully close to the window.
I'm not going to stop there, though. I went ahead and rummaged through my garage to see what it would take to fill'er up.
There you go: one duffle bag and one gym bag stuffed into the spaces. You could probably fit a grocery bag right in front there, too.
Basically, you're looking at 6-plus suitcases for a vehicle that seats five people. Not bad at all.
(Now, if you're wondering how the CX-5's cargo area compares to its smaller brother, the CX-3, I did a similar cargo test with that in a previous professional life)