Review: Just how good is the 2019 Mazda CX-5?

It's light and very fun to drive.

The 2019 Mazda CX-5.
The 2019 Mazda CX-5. –Andrew Holliday/Mazda/TNS

The Mazda CX-5 possesses a great ability to conquer switchbacks, carve through corners and treats twisting roads with disdain, making for a truly rewarding SUV experience. It’s light and very fun to drive. Body roll is largely absent thanks to G-Vectoring Control, which slightly reduces engine torque in corners to tighten suspension response and improve control. It’s standard on all 2019 CX-5s.

Equally refreshing is the Mazda’s CX-5 array of engine choices, which tailors its personality to your driving preference and wallet.

Offered in ascending Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and new top-tier Signature trim, the first four models come with a standard 187-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode and sport mode that funnels power through the front wheels. A far livelier 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder is standard on the Signature and available on the Grand Touring Reserve. The Signature is also offered with a 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder engine rated at 168 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque for those so inclined. All-wheel drive is optional on the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring models and standard elsewhere.

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And, of course, the new turbocharged engine is powerful given its 250 horsepower rating, although to extract that power you need to use premium unleaded; regular unleaded reduces output to 227 horsepower. The added muscle and slick moves merely enhance a vehicle that punches far above its price, a feeling enhanced once you climb inside.

There you’ll be greeted by an instrument panel that’s sublimely simple, designed by artists who understand the ultimate luxury is simplicity, not overwrought expressionism. This year brings the availability of Apple Car Play and Android Auto; otherwise, the infotainment system remains largely unchanged. Navigating your favorite stations can be awkward unless you program them into the presets, although CarPlay, Spotify and others make broadcast radio redundant.

The cabin is beautifully crafted for the price, with impressive materials, plenty of soft touch points and surprising amounts of space for its size. Head and legroom are generous all around, and the seats are comfortably high and supportive, although the front center armrest is placed too far back to rest your arm on. The car is remarkably quiet and smothers all but the worst road imperfections.

It’s a sublime compact crossover, better than many of its competitors.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

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Base price: $36,890

Engine: Turbocharged 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 250/310 pound-feet @2,000 RPM

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 22/27 miles per gallon

Fuel required: Premium

Wheelbase/Length/Width: 106.2/179.1/72.5 inches

Cargo capacity: 30.9-59.6 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds

Curb weight: 3,825 pounds