The Mazda CX-5 is probably our favorite mid-size crossover here at Autonotas. We love the styling and the fantastic driving dynamics, along with the amazing build quality of the interior. Among its many sterling qualities, however, the CX-5 suffered from a glaring fault; quite simply, there wasn’t sufficient power to complement that fabulous chassis. When Mazda announced that the 2019 CX-5 would be offered with the punchy turbocharged engine from the CX-9, then, we frankly had to see if this latest iteration of the CX-5 has finally fulfilled its potential.
The CX-5 has always been a fun vehicle to drive, especially for a crossover. With this new 2.5 liter turbo engine, however, it’s now the best driving car in the class. The 2.5 liter turbo is reserved exclusively for the upper two trims, the Grand Touring Reserve and the Signature, both of which are only available with all wheel drive. And for good reason: step on the throttle and you immediately feel the steering wheel tug and seek center; 250hp and, more importantly, 310 lb-ft is no joke. The steering is weighted very well, it has some good heft to it. The transmission is a real transmission! There is no CVT sloppiness here, as, joy of joys, the CX-5 has six real gears. Mazda made a big deal about not putting in a CVT at the launch event and I have to say, I’m very pleased with their decision. Even the previously underwhelming brakes have been addressed for 2019. Last year when I reviewed the 2018 model, I noted the brakes felt extremely numb and detached, almost like a brake-by-wire system. The brakes now feel considerably better, even if they’re not perfect. Body roll is also well managed. There’s nothing really surprising about the handling if you’re already familiar with the CX-5, it just finally has the get-up-and-go that is much needed in cars of this class.
At this particular point, you might be wondering why I’m not mentioning the Subaru Forester XT with its rally bred WRX engine. Well, unfortunately, the Forester has been completely redesigned for the 2019 model year and, with the new body style, comes the death of the XT trim with the turbo engine. The CX-5 with its new turbo engine option is now the quickest car in the class. Still, under certain conditions, particularly involving inclement weather such as heavy snowfall, the more robust all wheel drive system of the Forester may be preferable.
All features on the 2019 CX-5 are the same such as the blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert along with Advanced Smart City Braking. There are a few noteworthy additions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added along with a clever 360 degree camera system that gives you a bird’s eye view from up top when parking.
Interior and Exterior
There are a couple of new interior touches that have really completed the interior. They added real wood trim on the top Signature trim, a dark brown leather that’s almost black and a frameless mirror. The interior is honestly fantastic and gives some luxury manufacturers, such as Acura and Cadillac, a run for their money, though the cabin space is comparatively limited and certain people may find it cramped. It’s far above any mainstream manufacturers. The outside styling has not changed much other than the dark silver finish wheels on the Signature trim.
The CX-5 not only remains the best option in the mid-size crossover class, but extends its advantage even further with this most recent update. Compared to more established competitors like the Toyota RAV4, and the Honda CR-V, it was, and continues to be, an immensely more engaging and fulfilling driving experience, and has now been infused with the necessary grunt to finally realise its potential. The interior quality is a robust testament to Mazda’s ambitions to compete in the premium segments, to the point that it’s frankly on the precipice of embarrassing certain luxury automakers. The exterior remains sleek and striking, and certainly betrays no hint or indication of aging.
With that said, the interior may be cramped for some and if you often find yourself in deep snow, you may need the more competent all-wheel drive system in the Subaru Forester. Overall though, I would not hesitate to recommend the CX-5 to someone looking for a crossover.
The power it deserves
Best drive in the class
Best interior in the class
Less interior room than the competition
Turbo engine only available on top two trims
Specs: Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Turbocharged I4 Drivetrain: AWD
Power: 227hp @ 5,000 rpm (250hp with Premium Fuel) Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2,000rpm Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 22/27/24 MPG (2.5T AWD) Wheelbase: 106.2 in Curb Weight: 3,825 lbs (Signature Trim) Base Price: $24,350 Price as Tested: $39,325 (incl. dest.)