Mazda has earned a reputation for making quality, upscale and safe vehicles. And their most popular models are crossovers that are in high demand right now.
Mazda’s 2019 CX-5 compact crossover in particular, is the company’s mid-line top seller that slots between the larger CX-9 and compact yet smaller CX-3 crossovers. But there’s going to be a new kid on the block as Mazda recently debuted their new compact CX-30 crossover that appears to fall below the CX-3, size wise.
Mazda recognizes the trend in todays car buyer’s who are preferring crossovers, and they’re capitalizing on it with their four entries that cover the gamut from large to small.
The car makers’ CX-5 offers sharp styling inside and out, plus it has what some others don’t have – sporty handling and respectable economy.
Offered in FWD and AWD and in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and top-shelf Signature trim level that we tested.
For 2019, Mazda introduced a new 2.5-liter, turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that powers the Signature. It generates a potent 250-hp and whopping 310 lb/ft of torque that when mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, earned EPA mileage ratings of 22 city, 27-highway mpg with cylinder deactivation. It allows a tow rating of 2,000 pounds and according to Mazda, the combination was timed at 7.3 seconds for 0-60.
Moving CX-5’s 3,825-pound curb weight, the powertrain is not a neck snapper, but it compromises between decent performance and favorable economy. Especially important now since gas prices are rising.
With a 19-inch step-in into the cabin, the interior looks and feels very upscale. Nappa leather seating and layered wood trim excels what’s found in much of the competition.
Comfy, heated/cooled, perforated front bucket seats have good lateral support that is not confining. Complimenting the seats is a vertical stack housing a 7-inch display that is controlled with a rotary dial. Included here are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus apps that are smartphone connected. The screen serves the Bose audio system, navigation and rearview camera that features an overhead view and selectable frontal view.
A mode switch on the console offers normal and sport modes with the latter tightening things up and prolonging shift points as the engine rev’s to higher rpm’s before shifting. Sport mode is not for miserly fuel economy, as it increases idle by 300 rpm.
CX-5 lacks only two features. One is that a recessed bin on the bottom of the vertical stack could have better been used as a wireless smartphone charger, over a space for small items. The other is an AWD lock switch that some if its competitors offer and helps if getting stuck in snow or mud.
Reclining rear seats are cushy soft with generous head room and ample leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. While the seats are rated for three abreast, that number is mainly for kids – or adults in a (ouch!) pinch.
Behind the rear seats the cargo space with the rear seats upright is spacious measuring 37.5 inches, 44 wide and 31 high. Flip the 40/20/40 seatbacks and cargo depth extends to 67 inches. And beneath the cargo floor a space saver tire offers some small item storage around it. Lift over is a low 29 inches.
With Mazda’s vectoring control system, CX-5 offers excellent handling and stout cornering abilities. It keeps the wheels planted and feels in control without any tippy feeling.
Shod with Toyo 19-inch tires, CX-5 rides smoothly with a touch of taut sportiness. And it’s a quiet ride that parks easily.
As far as off-roading is concerned, CX-5 is limited to mild off-roads since it’s undercarriage clearance is 7.5 inches compared to, for example, Subaru’s Outback/Crosstrek/Forester at 8.7 inches.
Considering that the CX-5 Signature is the top trim level, the model has a reasonable base price of $36,890, and that’s with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, advanced smart city brake support, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, 360-degree monitor, tire pressure monitoring and much more. The only extra cost options were for a cargo mat ($70); all weather floor mats ($125); illuminated doorsill trim plates ($400); rear bumper guard ($125); retractable cargo cover ($250); roof rack rails ($400); front & rear bumper trim package ($850) and delivery that brought the bottom line to $39,905, or about three thousand more than the average price of a sedan (not AWD crossover) today.
CX-5 has also been a yearly top safety pick from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). And in the governments’ 5-star safety rating, it earned a full five stars plus five for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
Overall, CX-5 is an all encompassing crossover that has mostly everything a first-time crossover buyer would want, and then some. You won’t be disappointed.