We finished off the year with a 2019 Mazda CX5 for a week and a half, which included leading a Christmas Parade as well as an 1800-mile family holiday trip. Though all of the miles and the Mazda smiles, it is effortless to see why the owners of this family-friendly CX5 love it so much. Easy to drive, wonderful for a long trip. It is comfortable with plenty of space for today’s lifestyle. While the CX5 is not without its faults, they are easy to overlook due to all that this CUV|SUV has going for it.
We started our time in the CX5 as a dignitary support vehicle in the Alexandria Virginia Scottish Walk Christmas Parade, which Mazda USA is an annual sponsor. Our role was to support the Co-Chair of the event, her husband, and their dog. While they choose to walk on a bright, brisk Saturday morning on the streets of historic Old Town Alexandria, we followed along with them tossing out candy canes and making a video of the experience. Turns out, this newlywed couple had just purchased the very same car, and were extremely happy with it, and thrilled to have it as their support vehicle.
Then we loaded the CX5 for a weekend trip to Atlanta, Georgia to see family before the Christmas Holidays. Turns out, the CX5 is the perfect road trip vehicle, especially when carrying gifts, aka cargo, and traveling with a senior citizen with limited mobility. As the car was roomy and comfortable with an easy egress both for passengers as well as for whatever you load in the cargo area.
While it is a two-row SUV and not cramped with a third-row squeezed in, there is plenty of room for that young family with one or two kids and a dog. For us, it was a great travel car due to how well it handled the road conditions, with its sure feel and adaptive cruise control, plenty of power and size that did not make you feel intimidated by the trucks on the interstate.
I Don’t Need A 3rd Row
Not everyone needs that 3rd row, though many who have them swear that when you do need them, it is great to have. This CX5 did not have the option for the 3rd row; if it did, it would have been tight in the back and eliminated the cargo-carrying that this vehicle does so well.
It has a 40/20/40 split fold-down back seat that allows for passengers and cargo to be hauled at the same time. For the rear passengers, there is a USB power outlet inside the fold-down rear center armrest, and the rear seats are heated.
Where the CX5 Excels
In being everything you need and nothing, you don’t need it. It has a mix of what we are used to, such as a console-mounted gear shift lever, no electronic buttons or dials, you feel it mechanically engaging the transmission. The space inside is excellent for both driver and passengers as well as cargo space. Where I found it to be outstanding was the driveability, especially on the 10-hour long interstate drives. The All-wheel-drive ensured it was sure-footed no matter the weather, easy to keep on the road with the Mazda Radar Cruise Control. On the inside, the heated and cooled front seats were easy to get in and out of and quite comfortable for the long trip.
Where the CX5 Falls Short
Some simple things, like a sun visor that does not extend, driving in the mid-winter late afternoon, it was hard to shield your eyes from the sun that came in around the edges of the fixed right and left sun visor. The LED headlights could be brighter. The infotainment screen could respond faster, and the ergonomics of the switches on the center console could be better.
Our tester was a 2019 CX-5 Signature AWD with Caturra Brown Napa leather-trimmed upholstery with a base sticker of $36890. The machine gray metallic exterior paint added $300, and a rear bumper guard was $125. Other than that, the only extra fee was delivery, processing, and handling for $1,045, bringing the sticker to $38,360. I was pleased to find that the CX-5 ran on regular gasoline, and we got the average 27 miles per gallon on our trip.
For a sub $40K four-door hatchback all-wheel-drive vehicle, this is an excellent choice. Even Consumer Reports ranks it high with an 84 score in their list of compact SUVs. I personally would put it as a mid-size one, myself. Would I purchase this car? Why, yes, I would. It is a good value, and Mazda has a good reputation with owners.
Words and Images by William West Hopper. Mr. Hopper is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) and the International Motor Press Association (IMPA). He is sought out for his expertise in automotive, as well as luxury lifestyle and travel. You can reach him on Twitter @wwhopper.