Test Drive: Mazda's CX-5 Signature is an athletic crossover that rockets ahead with turbocharged power

Test Drive: Mazda's CX-5 Signature is an athletic crossover that rockets ahead with turbocharged power

May 31st, 2019 by Mark Kennedy in Business Around the Region

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature has sculpted body lines.

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

FAST FACTS

* Model: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

* Exterior color: Snowflake White Pearl

* Interior color: Caturra Brown

* Engine: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo

* Horsepower: 227

* Transmission: six-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 27 mpg highway, 22 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Tim Short Mazda, 6015 International Drive

* Price (as tested): $39,330

The Mazda3 interior is sleek and modern.

The Mazda3 interior is sleek and modern.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Two things resonate after a week driving the new 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature.

First, the new turbo-charged 2.5-liter engine is the bomb. Second, oh-my-gosh this car costs almost $40,000. (Actually, $39,330.)

I had stereotyped Mazda as a maker of mainstream (read economical) autos with a fierce bias toward simple, normally aspirated engines. Well, the new Mazda CX-5 in top trim casts aside both of those notions. Not that we are complaining.

Here's the thing: This small SUV is worth the extra dough. It drives like a small luxury SUV, in the mold of the Lexus NX or the Audi Q5, both of which cost thousands more. Whether Mazda customers will bite at this price point is another matter, but we believe they should.

It only took one hair-raising merge onto Highway 27 in Chattanooga rush-hour traffic to endear us to the new turbocharged power plant. With premium gas the new engine makes 250 horsepower (or 227 hp on 87 octane gas). Coupled with the Mazda's pinpoint throttle response, this is one athletic little crossover.

Tim Short Mazda on International Drive had 14 Mazda CX-5s in digital inventory late last week including two of the top-shelf Signature editions.

 

WHAT IS IT?

The Mazda CX-5 Signature is a near-luxury compact SUV with available all-wheel-drive and seating for five — although more comfortable for four occupants. In an era of cookie-cutter SUVs, the CX-5 has a sculpted profile and a unique, protruding grille design.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Our range-topping tester rings up at $39,330, but the CX-5 includes three lower time levels: Sport (base price $24,350), Touring ($26,615) and Grand Touring ($30,045).

 


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WHAT WE LIKED

Our log book was full of favorable impressions from a week in the CX-5 Signature, topped by the strong engine. We also loved the dark alloy wheels, superb handling, quiet ride and classy interior styling. Even the kick-plates display an elegant design.

 

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

The dark interior makes the real wood trim look almost invisible. It's a small thing, but Mazda's colorless gauges are strangely bothersome. The radio is hard to tune on the fly, and rear seat leg room is modest.

 

IMPORTANT FEATURES

The CX-5 Signature has all the amenities you would expect in a top-trim crossover. We were especially fond of the heated and ventilated front seats, Nappa leather upholstery, radar-powered cruise control, power liftgate, Bose 10-speaker audio system and heated steering wheel.

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

It was hard to suppress a smile driving the CX-5. The power-on-demand supplied by the turbocharged engine really changes the whole character of the car. I was mildly surprised every time the car accelerated.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Please be warned: Once you drive the Mazda CX-5 Signature it will be hard to settle for a lesser model. The driving experience is superb, and the price is fair for such a high-quality small SUV.

Online: In the market for a new vehicle? To access hundreds of Mark Kennedy's Chattanooga Test Drive columns visit www.timesfreepress.com/testdrive.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 features a rounded rear.

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 has a class leading interior.

Photo by Mark Kennedy /Times Free Press.