Mazda is at an interesting crossroads at the moment. Absent a large financier (slash / overseer), they are really out on their own in this scary automotive world. Sort of like Subaru, the Japanese automaker is making a go at things by themselves. But unlike Subaru’s partnerships on projects like the ’86, Mazda has kept to themselves. Sure, there are some rumors about an engine partnership with Toyota, but so far they are building their own stuff.
And man are they building some good shit!
The Mazda CX-5 has a soft spot for me, as it was literally out first RFD press loaner. Josh and I had recently read a fantastic article called The Truth About Press Cars by Matt Hardigree at Jalopnik. We wrote up our best “who we are, what we do” email and started spamming manufacturer reps on the east coast.
And it worked.
Much to our surprise, our plucky little motoring blog got some attention and we started getting cars delivered to our driveway(s). I was in Europe for a month (sorry, not sorry) and that meant Josh got the first crack at a review. And he nailed it. The article, and 12:52 minute YouTube video did amazing (our fist over 100K views) and we were hooked. So when Mazda wanted to drop off a 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature in the same Soul Red color, I was definitely in. Even though Jacob just reviewed one.
Just like back in 2016, we still get pretty well-equipped press loaners, and this Signature model is no exception. This is my second chance at a top-of-the-line Signature model, I drove a Soul Red Mazda6 Signature not too long ago. I found the interior, which built on an already impressive Mazda layout to be quite good.
So the Signature sits atop the Mazda hierarchy. What plebeian models are below it, well here you go:
- Sport – $25,750
- Touring – $28,050
- Grand Touring – $31,445
- Grand Touring Reserve – $34,870
- Signature – $36,890
So if you have a Mazda CX-5 Signature, you are literally the top-of-the-heap! Unfortunately, there is no special badging, others will just have to figure it out for themselves that you are better than they are.
We’ll start on the outside, as the CX-5 has evolved in a ridiculously good looking SUV. We thought that the 2016 was pretty good looking, but that was the first generation. The second generation, introduced in 2017 is quite a looker.
Although the front end looks a little bit like DiCaprio in Inception.
Still, the front end is the start of the show with sharped creased lines and a big ole Mazda badge. I’d say it’s one of the best looking SUVs on the market. And I don’t mean “for the price”, I just mean “period”.
The rear is pretty standard crossover stuff, although the skinny taillights match the front end’s stare and the dual exhaust is always nice. Overall it’s a great looking truck. “Feel Alive” indeed.
Inside, I really like the vibe that Mazda is putting down, especially on this Signature model. Everything is simple and has it’s function without a lot of extraneous stuff. As usual, the screen looks a bit tacked on, but that’s par for the course in just about every new car these days. At least this one isn’t shaped like an iPad.
The Apple CarPlay integration isn’t great, but it’s not really great on any car. The biggest issue is that, once you’re in it you’re stuck in it forever. It is very difficult to do anything else that’s not part of CarPlay.
For example, I’m listening to the 90s on 9 on SiriusXM and also using Waze, which is now integrated into CarPlay. To get back out and do anything that the steering wheel controls can’t accomplish, I have to leave CarPlay. You’re either in, or you’re out, there is no in-between. Kia and Acura use super wide screens that are segmented. So I can see CarPlay on the left, and other stuff on the right. As long as CarPlay is what it is, that’s about the only solution
Elsewhere across the interior it’s all nice touch surfaces and pleasant looking finishes. Mazda interiors were already nice, but the Signature really ups the ante a bit more.
It’s a crossover, you get a bunch of space behind the 2nd row of seats. Nothing groundbreaking, it all works pretty well as advertised.
Driving is more engaging than in a normal crossover, my only criticism is that the ride can be a bit rough. The sport button doesn’t seem to do anything other than hold gears a little bit longer and rev the engine up. But that’s an issue with most sport buttons. The CX-5 is inherently sporty, so there really isn’t much of a need for a button.
The safety nannies are all there, but for some reason they annoyed me more on this car. The blind spot warning in particular was overly safe. If anything was even within 10 car lengths in the lane next to me he would triple beep. That got really annoying on longer drives. I kept trying to remember to look through the menu to see if I could change the sensitivity, but it would only let me do it while stopped. I forgot.
Occasionally the front crash warning would pop up if someone was turning right in front of me. Yes Mazda, I saw them, thanks. But I guess better safe than sorry. This is the future.
Just like Jacob, the CX-5 is always on my recommended list for just about anyone looking for a non-massive SUV. In a world where the average crossover is pretty bland, the CX-5 is interesting and fun. For a reasonable price you get a great looking SUV with a lot of style and character. That alone is worth it. Add a handsome interior and a bunch of great features and options, and it’s a no-brainier. Buy a CX-5.