Mazda’s 2019 CX-5 is neatly tailored and amply powered

CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
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Fashion is more than clothing. It’s about presence, a sense of refinement and elegance of design and materials that can be appreciated by the wearer and those he or she encounters. And there’s no reason a crossover must be two ugly, high-riding boxes welded together. Taking the best of its Japanese heritage and American desire for ever-more-stylish and luxurious crossovers, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 is quite fashionable.

Mazda proves stunningly beautiful automobiles need not be just for the rich. Crisply creased sheetmetal highlights the hood, fenders and rear fascia. Up front, narrow inset LED headlamps accent the large mesh grille with chrome that runs from beneath the headlamps and under the grille. Our Signature model was dressed out in 19-inch wheels and detailed chrome window trim. A wide stance imbues a sense of performance that’s unlike most Japanese and American crossovers.

Plop down inside with logos covered, and you’ll think you’re in an Audi. Plush stitched dash and door coverings, matching woodgrain and bright trim add texture. Look closely, and you’ll notice the leather seats and armrests are a dark brown. Bose audio, power moonroof, heated sport steering wheel, ambient LED lighting and dual-zone automatic climate control amplify the mood. Travel with four comfortable passengers with gear tossed through the power-opening hatch.

Those seats are heated and ventilated up front, heated in the rear. Infotainment is by console joywheel and screen, which controls the audio and navigation systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make connections easier. A configurable head-up display shows speed, navigation and safety tech, which includes adaptive radar cruise, forward auto brake, blind spot warning, lane keep assist and rear cross path detection. A 360-degree monitor is included.

Base models come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine routing 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission, but we skipped that biz. Instead, our top-line Signature edition came stoked with a turbocharged 4-cylinder conjuring 250 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque (93 Octane). All-wheel-drive with torque vectoring keeps the crossover moving in bad weather and helps it sharpen corners during warmer weather backroad blitzes. Fuel economy is rated 22/27-MPG city/highway.

That’s plenty of power for a compact crossover, but a refined driving experience is beyond expectations. It’s simply best of class. As in an Audi, the suspension is firm but also compliant over rough pavement. It absorbs road shock without ever feeling sloppy. Steering is direct and nicely weighted. Power is not overwhelming, but a Sport mode lets you adjust shift points to get the most out of power you do have. It’s a vehicle you could enjoy on a challenging two-lane backroad or riding comfortably during a morning urban commute.

It is no small achievement being named to Car and Driver magazine’s 10 BEST Truck and SUVs List, but the CX-5 joins the larger CX-9 on that roster… deservedly so. I was a fan of the first-generation CX-5, but this is a significant step forward. It’s crisply tailored and amply powered with a luxurious interior and supple suspension. Ignore the Mazda badge and you’d not only put it against the Audi Q5 and Alfa Romeo Stelvio but also traditional rivals like the Honda CR-V, GMC Terrain, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue and Ford Escape. A base price of 24,350, or $39,155 as tested, seems appropriate.

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