Fast Take: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

Fast Take: 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

A new engine and Signature trim make this the best CX-5 yet

Words by: Adam Allen

What is it?

What we have here is the 2019 CX-5 Signature AWD, the flagship trim level we first experienced in the CX-9 and Mazda6. It’s easy to sum up what opting for Signature trim gives you, because it includes every single option Mazda offers. Supple Nappa leather seats? Check. Ventilated seats? Roger that. Gorgeous Abashi wood trim that begs to be touched? Affirmative. Oh, and you also get Mazda’s now familiar turbocharged 2.5 litre four cylinder engine which gives the CX-5 the thrust it always cried out for. The CX-5 in varying levels of trim is no stranger to the Carpages Garage. We have been behind the wheel since it first burst onto the scene in 2015 and have followed closely along as Mazda has evolved it throughout the years and can confirm that it is an excellent choice for crossover shoppers. It has always ranked among the segment’s best, and it certainly remains as the most engaging to drive amongst a lengthy list of solid competitors.

What’s it like to drive?

It’s fun. Yes, we’re being extremely brief here, but consider that the words ‘fun’ and ‘crossover’ seldom coexist in the same sentence. The CX-5 is no sports car, but you can feel some MX-5 DNA sprinkled throughout. Even a task as mundane as tackling an on ramp is revelatory- the chassis responds in clarity to subtle changes in your inputs of steering and throttle in a way that some performance oriented machinery fails to do. The transmission, while only packing six gears, telepathically selects the proper ration for whatever the situation and is satisfyingly playful in Sport mode. The brakes are strong and offer millimeter precision when modulating the pedal- no jerky or abrupt stops here, thank you very much. The engine, however, is the biggest headline grabber. It is neither sonorous nor rev happy; it prefers to spend its time spinning close to idle rather than charging to the redline. Still, 310 pounds feet of torque is hard to argue with, and not only does it shave over two seconds during the 0-100kmk/h sprint but it provides a lusty wave of torque to surf along whether cruising the streets or the highways. It serves a good purpose in the CX-9 and the 6, but it somehow feels most at home in the CX-5’s engine bay.

What’s it like inside?

Apologies to Audi, who has unofficially been regarded as the best purveyor of interiors across the industry, but the CX-5 Signature has them licked when it comes to interior fit and finish and quality of materials. Seriously. Although Mazda lacks a proper luxury brand, the confines of CX-5 Signatures are exquisite, and remember that this is a car from a non-premium brand that’ll set you back less than $45 grand. Mazda has also upped its game with respect to refinement as well. Long a complaint of those who have driven various offerings from the brand over the years, the CX-5’s interior is now pleasingly hushed, with wind and road noise significantly reduced. The loudest noises now come courtesy of a surprisingly excellent stereo, and the strategically placed speakers mean that the door panels don’t buzz annoyingly when listening to music with heavy bass. The only issues we noted were with the infotainment system- once lauded as one of the best, it’s starting to show its age and doesn’t respond with the crispness you might expect, nor do its menu layouts and screen resolution cause for celebration. We aren’t crazy about Heads Up Displays and grew tired of shutting it off before the beginning of each trip- we wish Mazda would make the default setting off instead of on, although it must be said that the technology is vastly better than the old gun sight version that used to rise up and down.

Why you should care:

You should care about the great progress and relentless attention to detail Mazda has lavished on the CX-5, or what we plainly refer to as meticulous engineering. The CX-5 ownership experience is also a pleasant one with excellent reliability and commendable fuel economy, and your humble author should know- as a CX-5 owner alumnus, I can be assure you that you’ll thoroughly enjoy driving this car day in and day out. All the positive attributes that existed before are now joined by a vastly more premium feel, and the engine imbues the CX-5 with the power it always wanted. You really need to take one for a drive if you seek a crossover that offers that elusive combination of comfort and fun to drive factor; you’ll quickly see what we mean about this being the best CX-5 yet that also happens to be amongst the best choice you can make in the segment.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $43,145
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.5-litre turbocharged inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 250 @ 5,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 310 @ 2,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 1,734 kg (3,829 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 11.8/100km (20 mpg)