2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD is the Ultimate Street Performer

2019 Mazda CX-5 photos by Matt Coker

After a couple weeks in the gutless family cars, it was invigorating getting behind the wheel of a Mazda again.

There is an immediate feeling of driving pleasure. Nothing against the way they look or the goodies packed into them, but it as if Mazda engineers obsess over the engine and transmission first and then the other crews add everything else from there. I can’t recall one model–from the Mazda 6 to the larger CX-9s–that is not just plain fun to drive.

That’s what came to my mind first in the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD. Actually, my immediate thought, and I’ll be repeating myself from other reviews here, is how well Mazda SUVs and crossovers sit when it comes to my particular frame. I don’t plop down into the driver seat or have to get up on my tippy toes before sliding my butt over. Just lift the right leg, lean straight across and I’m in. Did they measure me in my sleep?

Next it was the sound and performance of the turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four engine that had me saying to myself, “Ah, yes … a Mazda.”

The all-wheel-drive compact crossover seats five.

That engine pushes out 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque in this all-new Signature as well as the Grand Touring trim. It’s paired with a smooth six-speed transmission, and what got me on the freeway one trip was how, when applying more pressure on the accelerator, it gently but immediately glides up to faster speeds, without the jerkiness and hesitation of other gas engines.

Since it is a relatively compact crossover, the CX-5 handles great on the curves, too, helped no doubt by the stability, traction and vectoring control systems and the front and rear stabilizer bars.

Having spent a week this past winter in Washington state, I appreciate that it’s all-wheel drive. I can’t believe how many Suburu AWDs you see up there, including my daughter’s. Personally, I’d prefer the CX-5 to those.

The Nappa-leather trimmed driver’s seat has six-way power and lumbar support.

Like I said upstairs, the CX-5 Signature’s $36,890 manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is not outrageous when you consider what that includes. These range from exterior features such as 19-inch alloy wheels, a rear-roof spoiler and automatically folding door mirrors to interior goodies like my test ride’s Caturra Brown Nappa-leather trimmed upholstery, Mazda radar cruise control and active driving display with traffic sign recognition.

All of that is standard, as are so many other safety, cosmetic and entertainment features that I dare not list all of them. But I will share these standouts: navigation; anti-theft engine immobilizer; independent front/rear suspension; roof mounted shark fin antenna; power moon roof; power rear lift gate; windshield wiper de-icer; Bose audio system with 10 speakers; heated steering wheel; ventilated front seats; and heated front AND rear seats.

There are airbags all around passengers, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart city brake support and a 360-degree monitor that displays on the seven-inch color screen in the dash. The CX-5 got five out of five stars overall in government safety ratings, with fives in each category except rollovers, where it received four stars.

The lift gate opens and closes with the push of buttons.

As for gas mileage, the EPA has the CX-5 getting 24 miles to the gallon overall, with 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating is a five on a 1-10 scale (10 being best), and the Smog Rating is a three.

My tester had, at additional costs, a Machine Gray Metallic exterior paint job, a cargo mat, illuminated doorsill trim plates, a rear bumper guard and a retractable cargo cover that, along with fees, pushed the total MSRP up to $39,030.

Mazda backs that with a powertrain warranty of five years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first), and three years or 36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, with 24-hour roadside assistance included.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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