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Review of the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature: A Little Something For Everyone


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2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature

Mazda is on a mission lately to make their products feel more premium. They have been tuning their vehicles to be quieter and more refined in order to give them an air that they are above their class. This second generation of the Mazda CX-5 debuted for the 2017 model year with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft of torque.  For 2019, Mazda added the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine from the CX-9. On regular gas, the engine produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque, but if you fill it up with 93 octane, the horsepower figure bumps up to 250.  Available only on the Grand Touring and Signature trims, the 2.5-T makes the CX-5 the compact crossover with the most available torque.  Mazda sent a CX-5 Signature for me to try for a week to see what I thought.

large.927629212_2019MazdaCX-5-5.jpgThere’s no replacement for displacement… maybe

The biggest CX-5 news for 2019 is the engine options. There is the 2.5-T mentioned above and a 2.2-liter turbo diesel. Both are exciting entries into a relatively conservative segment.  The 2.5-T is the second-largest displacement engine available in the segment, behind the 3.2 liter V6 in the Jeep Cherokee.  This 4-cylinder puts out quite a bit more torque than the bigger V6, though the Jeep produces more horsepower (271 @ 6,500 rpm). Even among 4-cylinders, this is the largest displacement you can get, but none of those others offering 2.5 liters also offers a turbocharger. This engine is rated by the EPA to get 22 city / 27 highway.  I got about 24 mpg in mostly city driving. Zero to 60 is a claimed 6.2 seconds.

Under normal driving, the engine is quiet and composed, with torque coming on quickly when called for. When the pedal is mashed at speed, the CX-5 leaps forward with minimal turbo lag and gives off a strong growl from under the hood. The only time you can really feel any lag in the turbo is if you are starting from a dead stop. Overall, you never feel without power at the tip of your toes and the sounds, and lack of sounds, from the engine room is quiet and refined.

One area the CX-5 falls behind on is in the transmission department. Although the transmission offers smooth shift and is willing to downshift when called upon, a 6-speed automatic almost feels anachronistic in a time when all of its direct competition is sporting 8 or 9 speeds. I never thought there would come a day when 6-forward gears aren’t enough, but here we are. Adding 2 or 3 more gears to the CX-5 would further liven up the already sporty crossover and help keep the turbocharged engine firmly in the good places of its torque band.

Ride: Al dente – Firm but tender

If there is a brand that Mazda is looking to emulate here by being premium without the premium badge, it would likely be BMW.  The ride is firm, but not so harsh as to spill your latte. Steering is on the heavy side with precise control and great on-center feel.  Body roll is minimal. Pushing the CX-5 into corners is fun and the standard G-Vectoring Control Plus makes sure you stay planted where you intended to be.  The i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive mostly runs in front-wheel-drive mode until microscopic amounts of wheel slip are detected and then some torque is instantly transferred to the rear wheels.  Mazda programs the AWD system to always have at least a little bit of torque going to the rear in order for the transfer of torque to happen faster. 

large.2064484844_2019MazdaCX-5-3.jpgIt’s what’s inside that matter most

Inside the CX-5, the premium story continues. There is a distinct lack of cheap plastic even in places where they could probably get away with it. The dash and door panels are made of soft-touch material and there is a tasteful amount of chrome trim. Though the seats look black in pictures, they are actually a very dark brown that Mazda calls Caturra Brown Nappa leather. This leather is a feature of the Signature trim level and they are both heated and ventilated.  Rear passengers get heated outboard seats as well, controlled from inside the fold-down center armrest. Also, a feature of the Signature trim is the real wood dash inlay and ambient cabin lighting. The seats in the CX-5 are very comfortable with just the right combination of support and cushion. They would be most welcome companions on a long road trip. The rear seats are fairly flat and do not offer a lot of legroom.  There is no adjustment fore and aft.  Wind and tire noise has been kept to a minimum.

There are 4 USB ports, two in the up front armrest and two in the rear armrest. Only one of them allows a connection to the infotainment system.  Oddly, the USB ports don’t seem to put out much juice as my phones were very slow to charge from them.

The infotainment system is another area similar to BMW.  The unit is controlled by a large dial in the center console or touch screen controls. I found the touch aspect to be laggy and a long reach, so I found myself using the dial. Using the dial to navigate is simple enough, but the menus and layout of the screen could probably use a re-think.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both here, for some reason only Apple CarPlay can be activated by touch. Operating either system is frustrating with the dial however, this is especially true for Android Auto which I found frustrating to use without touch screen functionality. At least, unlike BMW, Mazda doesn’t charge you an extra subscription fee to use them. Sound from the Bose speakers was clear, but not especially great.

There was a time when people mostly bought crossovers for the utility of hauling lots of bulky stuff home from the store, however, these days are different. Now, crossovers are a fashion statement.  Still, the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded and 30.9 cubic feet with the seats up.  That is at the high end of mid-pack in the segment with the Honda CR-V being the leader, while the Toyota RAV-4, Chevy Equinox, and Ford Escape all have less. 

Do you need a safe space? This may be it.

The Mazda CX-5 Signature comes with a whole host of safety equipment and the center of it all is the heads-up display that keeps the driver informed.  Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane-Keep Assist, and Radar Cruise Control, all have status lights in the heads-up display.  I found the blind spot monitoring system to be especially helpful when I was backing out onto a busy street with limited visibility.  Radar Cruise control is one of my favorite systems of all and I feel it should be standard equipment on all cars. The CX-5 can even read speed limit and stop signs as you approach, changing and updating the local regulations in the heads up display.

The Signature also comes with active headlights that turn when you turn to help see around corners. They helped me spot a deer on the side of the road I normally would not have seen.

The Verdict

The CX-5 Signature is the top of the CX-5 line, so naturally, the price is reflected in that. With an MSRP of $36,890 before any options, the CX-5 may seem pricey, but it comes with everything you could possibly want.  However, when you compare it to other small crossovers with similar equipment it actually ends up comparing favorably to others in its class. I priced out Jeep Cherokee Overland with the 2.0T and technology group and the MSRP is $41,685. A GMC Terrain Denali with all the same option boxes checked? $41,430.  A Honda CR-V can’t even be equipped like the CX-5 because there is no up-level engine option, yet it still rings up to $38,147.

Overall, Mazda has produced a handsome, sporty, fun to drive crossover with enough utility to remain competitive. They’ve loaded it with safety equipment and kept the price in check. It is definitely worth a look.

 


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GREAT review, and a favorite in this class. It oozes upmarket, well polished, comfortable, refined, "I just enjoy driving this everyday" that makes Mazda great.

Favorite of friends, and referred often. Even the normal non turbo models in Touring trim level, etc. with leatherette, full & same safety, etc. with a $30k sticker...just make an Equinox/Terrain/Escape/CR-V/etc. seem that much more plebian.

Nice ride & well baked.

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Your review is very good here.  And it is true the other competition is priced high like this.  The new normal.  It is also why they needed a powertrain with more gusto to justify the MSRP.  Particularly since you can at a certain price point upgrade to a larger vehicle and depending on the equipment, get big power in a bigger package but maybe sacrifice a few niceties.

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25 minutes ago, frogger said:

These are really nice rides.  It was between this and two Subarus for my wife but she ended up picking a Subie.  Not sure where you got the cargo numbers, I've read smaller?  Around 31/56 seats up and down.

 

I've corrected the article.  There is clearly a typo in the little brochure Mazda gave me with the car. It mentions cargo room with second and third rows folded.  Someone at Mazda clearly copy/pasted from the CX-9 brochure.

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Even though the styling is dated, and apart from the awful plood + Chinese style dash, I would definitely take an Envision over this if you wanting to stay in the compact class. Myself I find Mazda design very cold while knowing it is still pretty well done. 

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1 hour ago, regfootball said:

Even though the styling is dated, and apart from the awful plood + Chinese style dash, I would definitely take an Envision over this if you wanting to stay in the compact class. Myself I find Mazda design very cold while knowing it is still pretty well done. 

I don't give the design dated at all. The plood in the signature is real wood. I wouldn't take an envision over this.

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Awesome write up.. I am a very big fan of Mazda.  I would have considered a 6 if it had a V6 still.  I love their design, materials, and I've only read good things about them.

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9 minutes ago, Paolino said:

Awesome write up.. I am a very big fan of Mazda.  I would have considered a 6 if it had a V6 still.  I love their design, materials, and I've only read good things about them.

The 6 has this same Turbo-4 in it as an option on the top model. You wouldn't like it though, too firm of a ride. 

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      Crisp Handling
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      Cramped Rear Seats
      Fuel Economy Trailing the Pack
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      Horsepower @ RPM: 365 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 376 @ 1,300
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    • By William Maley
      Considering the number of Lexus RC coupes I have driven over the years, there has been a significant hole - the V8 RC F. Whenever I have asked for one, the vehicle either wasn't in the press fleet or someone else was driving it during the dates I had available. But I was able to finally get my hands on one for a week in early fall. It was good timing as I was feeling the effects of being home for the past six months due to COVID-19. Maybe this coupe could give me a bit of joy.
      The RC F is not a shrinking violet. From its bright yellow paint, blacked-out 20-inch wheels, and optional carbon fiber package that includes a retractable rear spoiler, this coupe is very brash and proud of it. I'll admit that I was worried about scraping or cracking the carbon fiber front splitter if I took a steep entrance ramp or bump a bit too aggressively. It looks cool on the car, but the existential dread of an expensive repair bill does sour the appeal.  Not much changes on the inside for the RC F except for carbon fiber trim and a set of racing-style seats. Usually, I have a lot of trepidation on this type of seat because I don't fully fit in due to my slightly wide shoulders. But the seats conformed to my body within a day or so and I found them to offer the balance of support during hard-driving, and comfort for day-to-day - something I find to be hit and miss on seats from other automakers. Lexus Enform is still a frustrating infotainment system to use on daily basis. With a touchy control pad, it is easy to find yourself changing the song or end up in a different section of the system. This means you need to pay close attention to any change being made, which becomes a distraction hazard. Apple CarPlay is standard and does make using the system a bit more bearable. But I do wish Lexus would roll out their touchscreen system which makes it much more intuitive. Though, that likely will not come until a redesign, possibly in the next year or two. The main event for the RC F is under the hood. A 5.0L V8 engine with 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque - figures that slightly pale when compared to the BMW M4 or Mercedes-AMG C63. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic which routes the power to the rear wheels. The initial acceleration is a slight disappointment as the throttle response feels a bit sleepy. I'm not sure if this was due to improve fuel economy or throttle feel higher in the rev band. Thankfully, this sleepiness goes away as the car climbs up in speed and the V8 reveals its party trick. The noise that comes out of this engine sounds like a muscle car and you find yourself stepping the accelerator to enjoy it. Not much to say about the eight-speed automatic. It goes about its business smoothly and quickly. Fuel economy was surprising in the least, as I got an average of 18 mpg in mostly city and suburb driving. A set of adaptive dampers comes standard for the RC-F and gives it a split personality. Turn the drive mode knob to Sport+ and the dampers tighten up to make the coupe feel more agile than its weight of 4,017 pounds would suggest. Also helping in the handling are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires, providing tenacious grip. But switch the drive mode into normal and RC F becomes a very comfortable and refined grand tourer. Ride quality is very good with only a few bumps making their way inside. A minimal amount of road and wind noise is present. One area where the RC F holds a distinct advantage over the completion is the base price of $65,925 - undercutting most by a few grand. The danger is going through the option list and deciding to go crazy, which explains the as-tested price of $89,654. You can chop off over $11,000 by skipping the Performance package which brings all of the carbon fiber bits. The RC F lacks the outright performance as those from Germany. But I'm willing to overlook it because sometimes you want a car that just shouts to the world and the RC F does that very well. During my week, I found myself reveling in the engine and the grand touring characteristics of the suspension. It brought me the joy which sometimes is all you need a car to do. Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the RC F, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: RC F
      Trim: -
      Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-Valve V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 467 @ 7,100
      Torque @ RPM: 389 @ 4,800 - 5,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/24/19
      Curb Weight: 3,958 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $64,900
      As Tested Price: $89,654 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Performance Package - $11,400.00
      Premium Package - $5,350.00
      Navigation System w/Mark Levinson Audio - $2,725.00
      Torque Vectoring Differential - $1,250.00
      Premium Triple Beam LED Headlamps - $1,160.00
      Flare Yellow Premium Paint - $595.00
      Intuitive Parking Assist - $500.00
      Illuminated Door Sills - $449.00
      Orange Metallic Brembo Brake Calipers - $300.00

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