By on April 19, 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature front quarter

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

2.5-liter turbocharged I4 (227 hp @ 5000 rpm, 310 lb/ft. @ 2000 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

22 city / 27 highway / 24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.8 city / 8.7 highway / 9.8 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

22.9 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $37,885 US / $42,976 CAD

As Tested: $39,330 / $45,280 CAD

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2026 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Does a crossover really need to be good to drive, or is mere competence good enough to win buyers? Most carmakers settle for “good enough,” and yet they keep selling.

Mazda, of course, doesn’t settle. Performance is baked into everything it offers. I’m certain that if Mazda offered a panel van, some fool out there would start racing a Mazda Los Pollos Hermanos truck.

Thus, I had high hopes when a turbocharged crossover was announced. Already the best-driving crossover available, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature adds power and class to family hauling perfection.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature profile

I could likely cut and paste my review of the naturally-aspirated CX-5 from a year ago, using find-and-replace to amend any mention of power. The CX-5 remains the best-looking small crossover by far, with just a few plush touches to justify the Signature label. Few details on the exterior betray this Signature from lesser models – only a tailgate badge.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature front 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature rear

As an aside, while the Snowflake White Pearl finish on this CX-5 Signature is quite attractive, I’d like to publicly request to Mazda’s public relations team to start stocking press fleets with cars painted something other than white or a variation on Soul Red. This is the ninth Hiroshima product I’ve had the privilege of testing on these fine digital pages, and they’ve all been white or red.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature interior

The interior has a few new touches – the heated front seats now add ventilation for my sweaty tail, a lovely shade of dark brown for the Nappa leather seats, and handsome wood trim on the dash all add a touch of class. The rear seats now have heat, as well.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature front seat2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature rear seat

Most notably, Mazda finally adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity to the familiar infotainment system. The touch/click/spin wheel mounted on the console is growing on me; with the familiarity a new-car buyer would gain within a few weeks, it seems to be a more precise and less-distracting method of adjusting audio and navigation controls.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature center stack

The big change is the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine. Adding (at least) forty horsepower over the naturally aspirated base engine, a whopping 310 lb-ft of torque is available barely off tickover at 2,000 rpm.  Should the 227 hp not be adequate, spring for 93 octane unleaded and the full potential of 250 hp will make itself known.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature dashboard

Your cheapskate author did not spring for premium fuel. If we had facilities for instrumented testing, I might – but few are buying a CX-5 Signature for drag racing. The extra power is nice when merging into traffic, and especially when making a pass on a country two-lane.

Mazda sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission, while most of the competition has moved on to eight or more forward cogs. No matter, really – the powerband keeps the shifting to a minimum, making for more pleasant cruising compared to eight- or nine-speed ‘boxes that constantly hunt for the ideal gear.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature gauges

That’s where the CX-5 is simply brilliant. It’s elegant to look at, great to drive, and easy to live with. Mazda has been steadily moving upmarket with its entire lineup – where it was once a mainstream brand chasing a volume it could never quite manage, Mazda has shown with impressive cars like this CX-5 Signature that it’s worthy of a “premium” brand label.

I can’t think of a compact crossover, no matter the price tag, that I’d rather live with.

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature rear quarter

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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61 Comments on “2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature – Inching Ever Closer to Perfection...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This is good to know, I’ve been waiting for the turbo to put the CX-5 on my next purchase short list. Will check out

    However, the price may keep it on the list

  • avatar
    NutellaBC

    The problem is the Volvo XC40. Better seats, better engine (faster *and* more fuel efficient) with 3500lb tow rating.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      As long as you don’t care about interior volume or value for money

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      And Volvo will be in the dealer 3xYear

      • 0 avatar
        NutellaBC

        Having had experience with a large fleet of Volvo SUV running 20 hours a day, 99% of the issues are with the infotainment screen requiring a reboot.
        Otherwise, these are very robust and long lasting vehicles. No fragile paint, no rust issues, no suspension problems and Volvo has far more experience designing turbo engines than Mazda.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Nutt

          october 2018

          “Mazda, Subaru, Kia, Infiniti, Audi, BMW, Mini and Hyundai rounded out the top 10 auto brands. Volvo had the worst reliability followed by Cadillac, Tesla, Ram and GMC. Asian or Korean brands took seven of the top 10 spots.”

          Now, I wonder about your name here…

      • 0 avatar

        May be but it has a Scandinavian charm.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      And you don’t mind finding your left elbow falling off the narrow five inch long perch they call a door armrest in the XC40. Annoying as hell for me.

      Checked out an XC40 Momentum and a CX-5 Signature the same morning. This low trim XC40 was $5K more than the fully-loaded Mazda, the only premium being the price. I’m in Canada where Volvos are priced like gold. The CX-5 was in another superior world interiorwise and if it was less powerful, it sure wasn’t by much meaning I did not notice. Plus the Volvo looks like a semi-prettied up military van, very agricultural, but that’s its schtick I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      legacygt

      Not sure about this. I think the XC40 is an interesting vehicle but for the price of the CX-5 Signature you’re getting the XC40 Momentum with AWD where many optional features are standard on the CX-5 Signature. More importantly, you’re giving up interior room in every dimension, especially cargo volume where the XC40 has 30% less. To match interior space, you’re talking about the Volvo XC60 and then price comparisons just start looking silly.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The CX-9 Signature is a really nice CUV. I feel like Mazda held back a little too much on the “Signature” level of the CX-5 and 6.

    This midsize-ish CUV is probably the best application of the 2.5T though. It’s a little too burdened on the CX-9 and lacks verve for the sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      That’s probably mostly because the CX9 was launched with the Signature trim, but it was added later to the CX-5 and 6 so they couldn’t do quite as much with the older vehicles. It should be better when they get replacements.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    Soooooooooo, it’s my current 2019 Mazda6 GT, turned into a wagon, and raised seating position with zero off-road capabilities (So you can see around the SUV in front of you!?!) for an extra $5,500……..

    I would have purchased a wagon Mazda6 if they made one. Since they don’t, I still didn’t buy a CUV/SUV and got the 6.

    No doubt it’s a nice SUV to drive, but it serves no purpose in the real world, just like 99.9% of CUV/SUV’s.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Seeing over traffic is a huge benefit for some. So is carrying bulky objects that don’t fit into a trunk, clearing snow drifts, and having a comfortable step-in height to a bright and airy interior.

      Throw in Mazda’s sports-sedan-like performance and you’ve got yourself a damn-near perfect vehicle for the real world, unlike 99.9% of sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Throw in Mazda’s sports-sedan-like performance”

        Don’t hurt your back with that stretch.

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        Don1967 is right. I’ve through snow drifts with a FWD Pilot where my friend with A4 Quattro got stuck.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’ve found the “you aren’t going anywhere” threshold for a FWD sedan is about a foot and half of snow. An AWD sedan like an A4 will have more traction, but that just means it’ll get further into the drift before it gets stuck. It’s about ride height, not AWD.

          In any case, I have no idea why a CX-5 driver would want to go out in a foot and a half of snow in the first place unless he’s an essential worker. Just stay home and drink hot chocolate.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            In many snowy areas, snow plowing is being cut back, due to “budget constraints.” And “everyone drives a 4×4 full size pickup anyways…”

      • 0 avatar
        slap

        Seeing over traffic?

        Wife has a CR-V. I have a Miata. I’ve noticed that most of the things I can’t see over in my Miata I still can’t see over in the CR-V.

        • 0 avatar
          NiceCar

          Good point. Small CUVS can see above cars, but not other small or bigger CUVs or Suburbans, pickups, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            CUVs can also see above hedges, fences, snow drifts and other visual obstructions that impair standard sedan drivers. If all you’re looking at when you drive is the car in front of you, you may need to rethink driving

        • 0 avatar
          johnds

          “Wife has a CR-V. I have a Miata. I’ve noticed that most of the things I can’t see over in my Miata I still can’t see over in the CR-V.”

          Funny, I own a 2007 Accord and I sometimes can’t see over things, but if I am in my 2008 CRV I can see over things. Is your Miata have a lift kit, or is your CRV slammed 6″ with 12 inch rims?

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        Don1967: Adequate and continuing drivers training would be massively more beneficial than simple seat height.

        I live in Seattle, we had 2″ of snow once and it shut down the entire city. Turns out that having a AWD SUV on worn all-season tires and fantastic seat height does exactly nothing for being able to navigate a region with constant elevation change in in-climate weather.

        Have you sat in a full sized sedan in the past 10 years? You have a more spacious interior and personal space in modern sedans than all but the XL sized SUV’s. But you have to piss with the johnson you’ve got, so having to step “up” into a vehicle doesn’t beguile me into thinking that a few extra inches are available for just such an occasion.

        Full disclosure: I also don’t own a truck and if I did, it wouldn’t be lifted. My vehicle isn’t a public expression of what I wish was in my pants.

        I do, however, own 7 vehicles ranging in age from .5 years old to 78 years old.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The CX-5 is a jacked up 3. A CX9 would be a raised up 6 wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I haven’t found a sedan yet that has as comfortable a seating position for me as a CUV. Plus generally there’s more or equal room on a shorter chassis. I’ll take a CUV over a sedan every day….

      This is a good looking vehicle. I’m still partial to the CR-V – I just love that design.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Really nice vehicle, but very high price and terrible fuel economy.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Yes
    $40,000 is a little stiff.

    PS- Cool Radio > Picture of Album Cover – Song that s playing.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Very good looking vehicle. Always been a fan of its looks. Not a fan of the price in upper trim levels or a fan of the room in the back seat. We should all just give up and drive CRVs. The CRV doesn’t excel at anything but better overall than anything in its class. The CX-5 seems to always be the bridesmaid, but rarely if ever, the bride.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Rick, how’s that AWD system in your M6?
    Almost 3 months into my ’19 Signature, and it’s a grin-fest every drive.
    Acceleration and drivaebility is most excellent.Vibration at idle is nonexistent. Upshifts are firm and precise. And yes, I purposely bought the Soul Chrystal Red.
    The turbo models are AWD period. They also have a dark silver finish rims as opposed to the bright silver rims on the non-turbo models. I was looking at the Machine Grey, but with dark rims it didnt appeal to me.
    Negatives: No foglamp indicator in the dash, unlike the Tribute I traded in. The foglamps are tiny, but effective.
    The signature also gives you a 360 degree camera, a black headliner, and a frameless rear view mirror. Fuel economy has been 23.5-29.5 mpg steady 70-75 mph, will drop down to 17.5-19 enjoying that turbo in sprints.
    Great headroom, not so much cargo space. Very comfortable on a 900-mile trip in February.
    I looked at–and drove some competitors. The Rogue and CRV werent even considered due to the CVT. I did like the new RAV4, but it had nowhere near the driving dynamics of the CX-5.
    Sport mode in the auto is most enjoyable, and manual shift mode will keep you on your toes.
    For ME, this is easily the best I could have purchased, and got a killer deal on it as well(as a former Mazda employee).

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The AWD Mazda6 hasn’t been released yet

      • 0 avatar
        Terry

        Yeah, I know. Talking to my ex-Mazda district service manager, he said his M6 Turbo is crying our for the AWD.

        Yes, in the CX-5 I have better visability and dont have to do calisthenics just to climb into it.

        Ive been done with sedans and coupes for 9 years now, my Probe GT was my last. If I want to drive something sporty I’ll climb into my Miata. If I need to haul something I’ll take out Mazda5.
        But the CX-5 Sig has been a joy in every way

      • 0 avatar
        Terry

        Yeah, I know. Talking to my ex-Mazda district service manager, he said his M6 Turbo is crying our for the AWD.

        Yes, in the CX-5 I have better visibility and dont have to do calisthenics just to climb into it.

        Ive been done with sedans and coupes for 9 years now, my Probe GT was my last. If I want to drive something sporty I’ll climb into my Miata. If I need to haul something I’ll take out Mazda5.
        But the CX-5 Sig has been a joy in every way. And…my OTD price was $34,500, not $40K

  • avatar
    make_light

    This looks so much better than anything else in the class, but I haven’t had the chance to drive/ride in one yet.
    I will say, last week, I had back-to-back Lyft’s of a new CRV and then a new Forester. I get that the CRV’s powertrain might be more responsive, but as a rear passenger, the Forester was preferable. More comfortable/roomy rear seat, much smoother and quieter ride (in fact, the smoothest ride I had felt in a while), better feeling materials. The CRV had some weird fabric on the door panels that felt like an old chair at your grandmother’s house. And I always feel like reviews state with every new generation, Honda has FINALLY abandoned the road noise which plagued them previously. Not so in this case. Would be interesting to see how the the CX-5 compares.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      Forester has double wishbone at all 4 corners with -just so – shocks. Not stiff. Not soft.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        That’s weird. Subaru’s own website says the Forester has struts on the front with L-arm lower control arms. Comparison tests don’t say anything favorable about the ride. https://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f70/2019-forester-suspension-characteristics-794013/ Sounds like every other Forester and Outback I’ve ever been in.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      It would have to also depend on seat position of the driver/passenger seat. I checked online the specs for leg room, etc on the Forester/CRV and they are nearly the same with values going for the CRV in some categories and some for the Forester in some categories. Growing up with family who were between 6’3″ and 6’11” tall the seat configuration would be changed so that even a giant Cadillac wouldn’t have any rear seat space because the front seat positions.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The newest CX-5s have incredibly well managed NVH and very cushy rides. Surprisingly so.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I think the only downside to this Mazda is its fuel efficiency (and rear leg room).A CRV would be slower and less plush but would probably net a few more MPG.
    I wonder if 91 octane use would yield better fuel economy.I know in GM, Hyundai 2.0T owners report considerably better mileage when running premium.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      In my area better mileage, if only slight, with premium tends to be the case by default. We have E0 91, E10 87 and E15 88. Depends on the station of course as most Super America (Speedway) stations run ethanol in all blends, while Kwik Trip (Kwik Star) and Holiday seem to be a mix of E0 and E10 91.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I’m getting 32mpg highway with premium(93) in my 18 Mazda 6 with the 2.5t. I have yet to run regular through it.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    My wife really wants to trade in her 15 Cx5. This has the same problem as hers….not enough thigh support. My 18 Mazda 6 seats are perfect….these are too short.

  • avatar
    Terry

    I had a discussion yesterday with my former Mazda District Service Manager concerning fuel usage and oil change intervals.
    He recommended my continued use of Premium.
    On the one hand, if fuel economy was my main criteria I would have purchased the ’19 CX-5 Grand Touring model in stead of the Signature. If I wanted to save money and still have the turbo I would have–and almost did–purchase the Grand Touring Reserve model. I’m not rich, but I’m not destitute to the point where every 1/10 of a gallon of gas has me on edge.
    Considering its level of performance, I’m more than pleased with my Signature’s fuel economy, which is slowly rising as I accumulate the miles.
    Yesterday was also “Transmission Sport Mode Exploration Day.” A whole ‘nother animal comes out to play, great fun!

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      In my situation it doesn’t bother me to use premium. In my 2010 Mazda 6 I was only getting 27mpg on E10 regular. I would put in ethanol free most of the time which got me 29mpg at a cost of 1.10 more per gallon at most gas stations.

  • avatar
    bd2

    “he CX-5 remains the best-looking small crossover by far…”

    I wouldn’t say “by far” – if counting the pre-facelifted Tucson (which got a much needed interior/dash upgrade, but in the process also kinda ruined the front clip; the Sportage still has the best rear design).

    That being said, much rather have the CX-5 than something like the NX.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’ve had several mid-upper trim CX-5s as rentals and came away really impressed with the quality feel of the interiors and well sorted ride and excellent NVH control (surprisingly so considering Mazda’s historical position here). This Turbo motor solves the single shortcoming the car had from a driveability aspect and that was power. Having said all of that, the biggest remaining deficiency and this is makes this car a non-starter for families (IMO) is the poor rear legroom. I can’t imagine trying to fit my rearward facing Chicco Fit in there.

  • avatar
    Terry

    I had my sister-in-law and her husband in the back seat of my ’19 CX-5 Sig, and as per their comments, they had plenty of room.
    I wi
    ll say that after 9 years with my ’05 Mazda Tribute, things are a lot “tighter”, especially in the rear cargo area. Plenty of room for my wife and I, but I can see how some would find it lacking in room.
    While I no longer have to fold fold the rear seat cushions forward and remove the rear seat headrests to achieve flat cargo floor, I can no longer easily remove the rear seat cushions to get even more room.
    Among the 3 areas of performance(including steering and handling), luxury, and utility I’d forgo the utility aspect. For me it isnt a sacrifice at all. For others, utility may be the main focus.
    Looks are objective, and while to me the CX-5 is a great-looking piece, a ’19 RAV4 with a better interior, an engine with much stronger performance, better handling and steering could be the ideal.
    But for right now,, for me the CX-5 is IT.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “and as per their comments, they had plenty of room.” if they were anything approaching even 5’10” with a similar sized person in front, they were just being polite :)

  • avatar
    Terry

    I was speaking from personal experience. You?….Not.So.Much.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I had to ride in the back of a CX5 for 4 hours (5’11”) with my 5’7″ mother sitting in the front seat. It wasn’t very much room to spare at all. So yes I speak from direct experience.

  • avatar
    Terry

    How much room do you need? My in-laws had plenty, and I even looked at their kneeroom with the front seats in our normal driving/riding positions.
    Yes, interior dimensions are tighter than our Tribute was, but not uncomfortable at all.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Jesus “dude” yourself.
    If I had needed a bigger vehicle, I would have bought one. No on e held a gun to my head to buy what I consider the perfect vehicle for MY needs.
    Some people always find something to bitch about. Youre one of those. Be proud.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    $40K for an F-150 4X4 Crew Cab XLT and people absolutely lose their frickin’ mind.

    I’d buy a throwaway Kia or Nissan before any Mazda, but yikes it’s a gas guzzler too?

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    Maybe the only thing keeping me from considering this car is the pretty stark lack of rear legroom. Currently have a Golf R and when the driver’s seat is adjusted for where I like it, rear legroom in both cars is about the same.


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