2019 Mazda CX-5 (Compact Crossover Extraordinaire)

Mazda offers the 2019 CX-5 in five trims. This compact model sits between the smaller CX-3 and the three-row CX-9. Buyers have a choice of a naturally aspired inline-four-cylinder engine or a turbo, the latter reserved for the two top trims.

Consumers remain big fans of crossover utility vehicles, including compact models such as the Mazda CX-5. The CX-5 is Mazda’s most popular model, easily outselling the second-place Mazda3 compact sedan/hatchback by at least a 2-to-1 margin.

Further, more than two-thirds of Mazda’s utility vehicle sales are of the CX-5. That’s amazing as this vehicle only rolled out in 2012, replacing the previous Tribute.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Review

Mazda offers the 2019 CX-5 in Sport ($24,350), Touring ($26,615), Grand Touring ($30,045), Grand Touring Reserve ($34,870), and Signature ($36,890) trims. The first three trims offer standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive.

The two top trims come with standard all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine. All models have a four-cylinder engine paired with an automatic transmission.

The Sport, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature trims do not offer package upgrades. On the Touring trim, you’ll find a Touring Preferred Equipment Package ($1,375), which supplies such features as a power liftgate with programmable height adjustment, a power-sliding moonroof, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and a 10-speaker Bose audio system.

Move up to the Grand Touring trim and this model supplies an available GT Premium Package ($1,625). Here, you’ll find automatic power-folding side mirrors, an active driving display with traffic sign recognition, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield wiper deicer.

As for my test model, Mazda delivered a CX-5 Signature edition. It already came loaded, but Mazda added a few options, including a retractable cargo cover, illuminated door sill plates, and a machine-gray exterior paint upgrade. The final cost for said test model came in at $39,030. That’s quite high, but there are other cost-effective choices available.

Mazda is just one of more than a dozen manufacturers offering compact utility vehicles. Competing models include the Nissan Rogue and Rogue Sport, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Eclipse Cross, Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Jeep Compass, and the GMC Terrain.

A Matter of Style

Across the entire SUV spectrum, manufacturers are delivering more stylish models than ever before. This is a good thing as consumers continue to flee cars for crossovers — today’s SUVs are styling leaders and may someday become tomorrow’s collectibles.

Mazda has successfully done what few other models can claim. This automaker has managed to take styling elements from its cars and apply them to its crossovers. Yes, there are some styling distinctions based on vehicle height, roofline, and liftgate, but the uniformity is there.

Credit Mazda’s KODO or “soul of motion” design philosophy with achieving this. For instance, the gaping grille, stylish headlights, and abundant creases and calculated cutouts of car models such as the Mazda6 are shared with the CX-5.

Inside, the cabin has an upscale vibe, reminiscent to me of far costlier models, such as the Volvo XC40. The attention to detail is obvious with the layered dash, contrasting trim, and the placement of the display screen on top of that dash.

The front seats are a clear winner as they offer all-day comfort, ample support, and look great too. On paper, the rear seats hold three, but are ideal for two, especially with the middle seat folded.

The back seat isn’t as roomy as the front, but it offers more space than some competing models. Fold down the rear seat and you’ll enjoy nearly 60 cubic feet of storage space.

Safety & Technology

Mazda equips every 2019 CX-5 with automatic emergency braking. And that’s a very good thing. Its the city version, so it kicks in at low speeds. From the Sport trim on up, the full-speed version is either standard or available. You’ll also find blind-spot monitoring, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control on some trims.

The 2019 CX-5 has the distinction of garnering the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ award. This model achieved the institute’s highest honor, particularly models equipped LED projector headlamps, which are also curved adapted and supply high-beam assist.

A 7-inch display sits centered on the dashboard directly above the stack. It works with a dial controller, not unlike what BMW offers. That said, its touchscreen layout isn’t as user-friendly as some competing models, including Jeep and Chevrolet.

The base audio package isn’t much as it offers just four speakers. But, you’ll also find Bluetooth, HD Radio, and Mazda’s suite of apps. Two USB ports and an auxiliary audio input jack round out the options.

When fully equipped, the CX-5 supplies 10 speakers, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, and two additional USB ports.

On the Road

Adding a turbocharger to an already capable four-cylinder engine makes the CX-5 a performance standout in the segment. In fact, only the Ford Escape rivals the CX-5’s potency. Still, with 250 horsepower (227 hp with regular grade) and 310 foot-pounds of torque at the ready, the Mazda is the winner here.

With all that power on tap, Mazda makes all-wheel drive standard for the two covered trims offering this power edge. I can’t imagine driving without it as the system is necessary to handle all that power.

The turbo spools steadily when called upon, yet there is some lag detected. Once fully engaged, the CX-5 powers forward with authority. Tire squeal may accompany your launch from a full stop.

We’re a bit surprised that Mazda kept with the six-speed automatic it has used for years, even as competitors choose eight forward cogs or more. Nevertheless, the transmission shifts through gears with confidence. Activate Sport mode and those gear changes are held a bit longer.

Mazda equips the CX-5 with a fully independent suspension — struts are up front, while links rule the rear. This SUV’s electric power steering system is a good one, keeping this vehicle composed and delivering ample support when pulling out of corners. The ride is comfortable and the overall feel of this vehicle rivals some premium models.

Auto Trends Recommends

Oh, how tempting it is to recommend either of the two top trims with the turbo engine! The power quotient is a difference maker for this model, but we think the cost is hard for most consumers to justify.

That’s why we can recommend either the Touring or Grand Touring trims. The Touring model with the available equipment package may be all you need. Add the available all-wheel-drive option and your final cost comes in at $30,435.

You can negotiate a lower price too, dropping your out-the-door expense below $30K. That’s within range of what similarly equipped competing models cost.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Specifications

Mazda 2019 CX-5
Segment Compact SUV
Base Sticker Price $24,350 ( plus $1,045 destination charge)
Price as tested $39,030
Standard Engine 2.5-liter inline-four
Horsepower 187 @ 6,000 RPMs
Torque (lb.-ft.) 186 @ 4,000 RPMs
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,541 to 3,679
Wheelbase (inches) 106.2
Length (inches) 179.1
Width (inches) 72.5
Height (inches) 65.4
Head room (f,r…inches) 39.7; 39.0
Leg room (f,r…inches) 41.0, 39.6
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.1; 54.8
Hip room (f,r…inches) 55.2, 55.3
Storage (cubic feet) 30.9; 59.6
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) 2,000
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel Regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.8, 15.3
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway) 25/31 (FWD); 24/30 (AWD)
Manufacturing Plant Hiroshima, Japan


See Also – Turbo Wonder: 2018 Mazda6

2019 Mazda CX-5 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan