The 2019 Mazda CX-5 is just one of many quality compact SUVs trying to stand out in the most competitive and crowded segment in the automotive industry. With a few noteworthy adjustments made this year, the CX-5 remains near the top of its class, although it’s not for everyone.
The CX-5 was refreshed last year visually, and this year it gets cylinder deactivation on the 2.5-liter four-cylinder making it even more efficient. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also now offered.
While some compact SUVs cater to buyers looking for a maximum amount of space and comfort, others are geared towards buyers who value handling and a fun drive. The Mazda CX-5 is definitely in the latter category. It can’t go toe-to-toe with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester when it comes to interior space, but most would agree it’s a lot more enjoyable to drive.
Now, there are other compact sport utility vehicles who put the emphasis on sportiness, namely the Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson. Of the lot, only the Tiguan has more cargo space, and not by a wide margin.
What the 2019 Mazda CX-5 does well
1. There isn’t in my opinion a more fun compact SUV to drive. Handling is sharp, and you feel connected to both the vehicle and the road. It’s more German in that sense than even the Volkswagen Tiguan which got softer this year.
2. You can get it with a manual transmission which is rather rare. Only the entry-level model, however.
3. Both engines offered in the 2019 Mazda CX-5 lineup are efficient, but most will go for the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder unit found in the GS and GT models, and optional on the base GS. It delivers 187 horsepower, and yet it has an average fuel economy rating of less than 9.0 liters per 100 kilometers. It also features cylinder deactivation, a unique feature in this segment.
4. It’s quite refined inside. It’s not as in-your-face as a Honda CR-V, for example, but the dashboard and center console have a high-end appearance to them while also standing out when it comes to craftsmanship and the quality of the materials.
What the 2019 Mazda CX-5 doesn’t do so well
1. It has less interior space than many of its competitors. Its trunk offers 966 liters of cargo space which is less than a handful of models. If you value space above all else, the CX-5 may let you down.
2. The 155-horsepower engine is not one we would recommend. It simply lacks the power needed to move the CX-5 with any sort of conviction, and it’s not as fuel-efficient as the more powerful 2.5-liter engine.
3. The entry-level engine is just there to lower the advertised starting price. Unless you truly want a six-speed manual on a FWD SUV (only available with the 155-horsepower engine), the CX-5 is priced about the same as its competitors. In actuality, you’ll be paying a little more once you choose the 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
4. It’s navigation system is kind of a pain to use.
What we tell our friends
Stay away from the base engine, and be prepared to pay a little more for a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that isn’t really more powerful or more efficient than engines you find in other compact SUVs offered for slightly less money, like the CR-V. All that being said, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 remains the sportiest and most enjoyable compact SUV to drive. That counts for a lot. It’s still one of the best models you can buy in its class.