2019 Mazda CX-5

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Updated: September 10, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 crossover was redesigned in 2017 with a retuned engine, stiffer chassis with wider track, more stylish exterior, better-looking and much quieter cabin, and many improved details. For 2019 it gets a new available engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder making 227 horsepower, same engine that’s used in the CX-9 crossover and Mazda 6 sedan. That’s 40 more horsepower than the base engine, a normally-aspirated version of the same inline-4.

Both engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, with either front- or all-wheel drive. 

The CX-5 is small for a mid-size crossover, with a wheelbase of 106.3 inches and overall length of 179.1. That helps make the already crisp handling more nimble, and makes it easier to park, but steals from interior space. 

The front-wheel-drive CX-5 is EPA-rated at 25 mpg city, 31 highway, 28 combined, on regular fuel. Two of the four cylinders can deactivate to save fuel. With all-wheel drive, it gets 24/30/26 mpg, which is 3 mpg less than the Subaru Forester. 

The turbocharged CX-5 gets an EPA rating of 22/27/24 mpg, on premium fuel.

The IIHS awards the CX-5 a Top Safety Pick+, up from last year, thanks to improved LED headlights with automatic high-beams on top models. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall in its crash tests. 

Every CX-5 comes with automatic emergency braking, however the Sport only gets it for low speeds; higher-speed AEB comes standard on all other models, along with blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. 

Model Lineup

Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models come with the normally aspirated engine and front-wheel drive, with optional all-wheel drive for $1,400. Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models come with AWD and the turbo engine. 

The $25,345 Sport comes standard with power features, cloth upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, blind-spot monitors, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment. Options include higher-speed automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control, as well as navigation and remote start.

The $27,605 Touring adds synthetic leather upholstery, keyless ignition, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the infotainment. A $1,375 Touring Preferred package kicks in Bose audio, a power tailgate, and a moonroof.

The $31,040 Grand Touring adds leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, 19-inch wheels, three years of satellite radio, and navigation. The $1,625 Premium Package brings a head-up display, cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. 

The $35,865 Grand Touring Reserve has the turbocharged engine as well as the Premium package. 

The $37,885 Signature adds 19-inch wheels, a black headliner, nappa leather seats, and wood trim, and front and rear parking sensors. 

Exterior

The CX-5 is one of the few crossovers that can be called stylish, with its soft undulating surfaces. Its shield-like grille bows gently forward without shouting for attention. The thin LED headlights glow without grabbing your eyes with a badge. 

The windshield slope suggests sporty intentions. The doors cut upward into a low roofline and back into a pert rear end. The ratio of taillight to tailgate is an artful balance of style and purpose.

Interior

The cabin is warm, inviting, and smartly trimmed. It can be busy, but that’s tempered in upper models by strips of wood, matte leather, and nicely grained plastics. The cabin lighting is clean, the steering wheel is tidy, and the shift is lever located in a natural position for the driver’s hand. The standard fabric seats are fine.

The high center console and tall gauges express a more plain-spoken message than crossovers that try so hard for asymmetry or horizontal themes. The 7.0-inch screen that sits on the dash is too far away and requires too many touches to control various systems.

Thanks to nearly 100 pounds of sound-deadening material, the cabin is quiet, muffling a growly engine. There’s limited rearward vision because of thick rear pillars, but good forward views thanks to swept-back windshield pillars. 

The front seats are well bolstered. The flat rear bench seats provide decent shoulder room and 39.6 inches of legroom. That’s a good stat but for some reason it feels like less.  Three abreast in the rear is an okay fit only if they’re kids, who will like the way the rear seats recline. Adults will appreciate the wide door openings. 

Behind the rear seat there’s 31 cubic feet of cargo space, which is a lot, and when the seat is folded there’s about 60 cubic feet. The Chevy Blazer remains the champ in this measure, while the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester beat the CX-5 by a smaller margin. The CX-5 beats the Nissan Rogue Sport, at least.

Driving Impressions

The 2.5-liter engine makes 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic. The throttle response is good but the acceleration is only average, as a front-wheel-drive model takes 8.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour, and a couple tenths slower with all-wheel drive. At more than 3000 rpm, the engine sounds as if it’s thrashing. 

The new turbo engine makes 227 hp at 5,000 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. There is some turbo lag. Its time from zero to 60 mph is 7.3 seconds, and would be less than that if it didn’t weight nearly 300 pounds more than the non-turbo. Sport mode postpones the transmission upshifts to higher revs. 

Mazda retuned the suspension in 2019 to better fit the increased horsepower from the turbo engine. Because of its great handling, it’s more fun to drive than other small crossovers. With an independent suspension at all four corners—struts in front, links in back—and a rigid steel chassis, the ride is very stable. The cornering is precise and the electric power steering is progressive–firm but not heavy. The effort in corners increases naturally, and car holds a line with ease.

Torque vectoring helps cut down head toss. Torque vectoring works with all-wheel drive by making tiny adjustments to the power and traction in individual wheels, in the corners; this improves balance which makes steering and handling sharper and more accurate. Basically, the torque is shifted to the outside wheels in corners.

We got about 150 miles of seat time at the launch of the CX-5, and then another full week carrying around equipment like kayaks and bikes. That time was all on models with 19-inch wheels, rather than the standard 17s. The ride is usually firmer with bigger wheels because the tire sidewalls are thinner, but ours didn’t feel stiff. 

Final Word

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 is one of the better-balanced crossovers of its size and price. Its powertrain is solid, and the new turbo engine has swell power. Its stylish lines make the CX-5 stand out in the crowded field of same-looking crossovers, and its handling enables it to run away from them.