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2015 Mazda CX-5 Towing across country

Hi All,
In about a year my wife is going to start travel nursing. We would be traveling to different parts of the US every 3 months or so and we will be driving the 2015 CX-5. We looked into the towing capacity which is 2000 lbs. A 5x8 covered trailer is 860 pounds and we would bring clothes, kitchenware, a crib, and the electronics. I am curious as to what I can do to the CX-5 to make it better suited for towing. I have read that a Transmission intercooler is not a bad idea.
What are all your thoughts? What could I do to make the cx-5 tow better or more weight.

Transmission cooler is advisable to help preserve the transmission, but you are stuck with your specs I fear.


Would doing any upgrades to the engine help?

Engine upgrades-Not going to help. You need a different vehicle with actual towing capacity to do what you want.

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Why would he need another car? The car is rated to tow up to 2000lbs. The trailer weights only 860lbs. That leaves 1140 lbs for “stuff”. Seems to be plenty of space for the things he wants to haul. I also assume the manufacturer considers the number of individuals that might be inside the car (up to 4 ?) when they figure out the towing capacity. I would say the OP has nothing to worry about, but if he wants to play it safe, get a trans cooler. Where am I going wrong?

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You’ll have be EXTREMELY careful not to exceed the 2000 lbs. A trailer that size can carry a lot of stuff, more than 1100 easily, which would cause you problems. Are you going to be doing mountain towing? That’s a major load on the vehicle and brakes.

If this is only going to be once every three months, it won’t be too bad if you take it easy (5 mph under the speed limit, that kind of thing) as long as you stay in the total weight limit.

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A lot of this is just weighing the options. If I were to tow a trailer with the CX5 I would want to be 100 to 200 lbs under the max weight limit. It is unknown whether or not furniture is provided with my wife’s travel nursing. If not we will have to take a lot with us which would mean renting a uhaul truck and hitch attachment for towing our mazda around. We wont be leaving for a year or so. Thank you Barkydog, kurt, and texases for the helpful advice.

Another alternative is to ship items. The pods have competition now. They drop it off, you pack it, they deliver it and you unpack it. Several companies do it now. Some have on line tracking.Smaller sizes are available.I read one bad experience with U-Haul’s version.

You would only need to pack enough for several days.

Well, one thing for sure is that performing any type of alternation/modification to the engine will result in the warranty coverage on the engine being canceled in the event that you experience an engine-related problem after that “upgrade”.

I would investigate whether that 2000 lb tow rating needs a “towing package” from Mazda that your CX-5 may or may not have. Make sure you HAVE the correct stuff. This may include a larger transmission cooler and/or oil cooler. If you do have the things you need, consider using synthetic oil in the engine and the differential(s). It gives you a little more headroom for high temperatures.

The trailer is important, too. Trailer tires rated speed limits can be lower than highway speed limits in many states. Trailer brakes may not be required for one that light but a fully loaded trailer is 2/3rds the weight of your entire car so I’d strongly suggest the trailer have brakes. Be aware of what your tires rating is and carry a spare AND the tools to change it. Consider sway control for your hitch as well as load equalizing hitches because the trailer is so heavy compared to your car.

And make sure the trailer tires aren’t too old. Recent post on another site of a trailer tire blowing out 20 miles into a 1000 mile trip, with no spare. Both tires were 15 years old, had to be replaced on the side of the freeway - oops!

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2000 pounds is really not very much but 800 for a trailer seems a little heavy. Maybe time to look at a light weight one. Yeah I had to run my 28 year old trailer 1600 miles last week. It needed it anyway but I did a full overhaul-tires, bearings, hubs, deck, sides, paint, lights, wiring, and safety chain. Plus I took along a spare hub and bearings, tire, and mounted spare tire and jack. Coming back from Florida with the camper one year, the spring came loose and blew the tire. I had a spare but the camper was too low to the ground to get the jack under it. So I had to disconnect and have it towed to a shop. We were almost home so not too bad but there are some things to consider when towing.

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The only thing more to change for towing . . ?
your way of thinking .

Just like you adjust your mind about cornering while towing, you must also adjust the way you drive and the overall thinking required while towing… . ALL the time.

especially STOPPING !
You may be towing within or at capacity but even so your brakes will be taxed to the max.
Stopping is always the biggest surprise even to those drivers used to towing.
YOU can help them help themselves by driving with your mind far ahead or your actions and doing several things differently.

Slow long before you normally would. Never save braking for just the last few feet.
Accept a longer and milder acceleration rate AND a slower top speed AND you may not be able to use overdrive without it shift searching far too much ( that lack of overdrive will automatically draw down your top speed ).
Slow for long downgrades . .part way down you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at the sudden LACK of braking power.

    • brake fade is the single scariest towing incident I’ve ever encountered ! If not for the late hour of the night, there was GOING to be a crash at the intersection at the bottom of the grade !

Learn how to check trailer sway. Braking only accentuates the forces until you steer along with the sway and get the trailer following you again.

Do not swerve to miss that dog . that will only create a massive sway fishtail that could wreck you right there.

always have all of your lights working correctly. if not . . STOP and fix them right now.

Load the trailer right to avoid sway. slightly heavier forward of the axle.
My worst trailer sway was with an EMPTY one car flatbed. I could not have changed the load ratio . . I COULD have been driving slower to start with !

others will have additional advice as well.

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Do you have the 2L or 2.4L engine? The 2L is just barely adequate for a couple and light cargo. I can’t imagine it could tow anything. Even though the 2.4L is more powerful, I expect it will be underpowered for the task you want it to perform. The CX-5 is a great SUV, but it is likely not a good match for your wishes. If it is just the two of you, maybe you could fit a lot of the hard goods, like electronics, inside the SUV with the rear seats down and carry soft goods like clothing and bedding in a roof carrier.

OP mentioned “crib” = rug rat…


Keep one side of the back seat up for the child seat. Or get a SUV more capable of the job.

I just read the Edmunds article on this CX-5 . Two adults and a baby ( It is unbelievable how much stuff a little person like this needs ) going across country pulling a trailer . The CX-5 doesn’t seem like the vehicle I would want for this endeavor.

+1 a hundred times for @ken_green All great advice! I’d add one thought. Don’t drive the CX-5, drive the trailer! Always consider where the trailer needs to be and drive the car to place the trailer.

A good friend spent several years working as a travel nurse and found that she could drive a U-Haul and tow her car. From Baltimore to Chicago to Boston to Atlanta to San Diego, etc., she learned to plan ahead and never shift into reverse. U-Haul agencies always seemed quite reasonable in disconnecting and dismounting the car and parking it while she took the truck to unload it. She’s a very practical lady. The travel agency calls her still after several years. Some of her assignments mention her specifically. Intelligent, SEASONED employees are hard to find in all professions I guess.

I have to admit that this is something new to me. I’ve spent many years in the health field but never ran across this. I know all about WHO and Doctors Without Borders but didn’t know there were temps running around the country and world pulling trailers. If it were me and an ankle biter, I’d reconsider a little. Moving every 6-12 months is worse than the military and I don’t know if $50 an hour is enough. The other thing is from a heath risk standpoint is that there are some very serious disease conditions developing depending on what part of the country you get shipped to. From Zika in the southeast to leprosy in the west, and throw in TB and even polio now. Just depending on the clientele being served don’t depend on the hospital or clinic taking effective preventative actions. There are diseases appearing that we thought were eradicated here but there are no health checks on folks pouring over the borders and all of a sudden there you are exposed to something unforeseen. Reminds me of the Navy poster to join the Navy and see the world. Yeah right.