Utility vehicles come in different sizes, but they also share a basic shape, which can make it difficult for manufacturers to separate the vehicles from the competition in any given segment.
However, one company that seems to have mastered the art of differentiation in this key segment in which it competes is Mazda.
The 2019 Mazda CX-5, a compact sport-utility vehicle that faces off some highly regarded competitors such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, is artfully designed, nicely equipped and comes with built in flair that makes fun to drive under a variety of conditions.
The CX-5 Signature, I drove, was equipped with a 2.5-liter turbo charged, four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission family and all-wheel-drive. The SkyActiv powertrain is capable of producing 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque and getting 24 mpg in combined highway and city driving.
The power seemed to come on instantly when the accelerator was pushed and the shifts were smooth and matched the condition. In addition, the all-wheel-drive system clicked on roads slick with rain.
What was most impressive about the CX-5 was the powertrain combined with the CX-5’s excellent driving characteristics gave the vehicle the feel and performance of a sporty coupe or sedan while driving either on the open road or in heavier traffic where the power was applied when summoned in the cut and thrust of urban driving.
The CX-5’s performance was enhanced by quick, accurate steering, solid braking package, which included ventilated disc brakes in the front and solid disc brakes in the rear and well-honed suspension that gave the ute a sporty and comfortable ride.
The enhanced focus on the chassis, which helps differentiate the CX-5 from its well-regarded competitors, features other technical innovations such as G-Vectoring Control Plus.
The sportiness of the CX-5 is carried over into the vehicle’s exterior design. At first glance, a casual observer might think it was a passenger car or hatchback. The corners of the vehicle are artfully sculpted into the front and side as well as into the tailored rear liftgate, which is topped off with a functional spoiler. The 19-inch wheels, which have been added to the Signature edition of the CX-5, also add an additional style to the vehicle’s overall appearance.
But the CX-5 tall enough to separate it from a typical euro-style hatchback to accommodate the higher seating position characteristic of utility vehicles. The CX-5’s utility is further enhanced by relatively comfortable rear seat and a generous cargo area behind the second row of seats.
The 2019 model takes its next key step with a high-quality interior in the new Signature trim, which comes with leather seats and a very sophisticated interior layout that brings the controls close to the driver without sacrificing the comfort of the passenger.
The 2019 CX-5 Signature comes with a long list of comfort and convenience features, starting with Caturra Brown leather-trimmed seats, genuine layered wood trim, satin chrome interior accents, black headliner, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel with unique stitching, auto-dimming rearview frameless mirror with Homelink and ambient interior LED lighting.
The list of niceties also includes a 360-degree View Monitor to assist in maneuvering into a parking spot as well as rain-sensing wipers and heated outside mirrors.
The 7-inch, full-color touchscreen display allows the driver to access the now-available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems. Additionally, the infotainment technologies can help occupants use smartphone applications. The multi-function “Commander” knob and shortcut buttons or voice command functions to helps keep the driver’s hands and eyes away from a smartphone.
The driver assistance feature on the Mazda CX-5 includes Smart City Brake Support and blind spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, which are standard on all CX-5 models. The Signature model also comes with adaptive high beam controls, hill-launch assist, land departure and lane-keep assist.
The pricing ladder for CX-5 is long, perhaps overly long. The price of the most basic model with all-wheel-drive starts at $25,750, while manufacturers suggested retail prices for the Signature model that was $36,890 before the addition of the destination charge of $1,045 and a special paint job and illuminated door trim boosted the actual sticker price to $39,775.
Mazda has always insisted it builds vehicles that are cut above. With the 2019 CX-5, they have certainly proved it by building by vehicle with an impressive power train and interior furnishings.