Reviewed: Mazda CX-5 Turbo
2019 Mazda CX-5 2.5L Turbo, A deserving new engine to live up to its image
Words and pictures by Larry Weitzman
While the exterior of the 2019 Mazda CX-5 retains the same, flowing aggressive shape, perhaps
the best looking compact CUV in its class, Mazda has delivered on the promise of its looks with a new
engine. Speaking of shape, while the CX-5 still carries its basic body from 2012, a major refinement was
done for the 2018 model year, refining and chiseling the Kodo design with sharper details and smoother,
First to the new grille and front end created with the 2018 model. Still featuring a five-sided
open shape, the headlight assemblies now looked carved into the body, grille and hood by a Samurai,
especially from the side view. Simply put is that such attention to detail I gave never seen in this class of
automobile, much less any class. Super stuff. About the only negative is the huge black emblem stuck in
the middle of the grille. All dimensions remain the same with wheelbase, length, width and height
numbers at 106X179X73X65 inches respectively, which makes the CX-5 one of the smaller compact
crossover utility vehicles.
If you are looking for the big changes look no further than under the hood. Engine displacement
remains at 2.5L but it is now turbocharged. In fact, it appears to the same engine now used in the Mazda
with premium fuel. If the CX-9 uses regular gas the hp drops to a peak of 227 hp at 5,000 rpm while peak
torque remains the same.
Let me explain, at 2,000 rpm with either fuel, engine output is identical at 118 hp, but the drop
of 23 hp at 5,000 rpm is because of the engine computer retarding the spark before detonation (pre-
ignition) can occur due to the lower anti-knock rating of the fuel (knock means pre-ignition or
detonation). Retarding the timing of the spark reduces engine output as it is not operating at its
optimum timing for the initiation of the combustion or power stroke of the engine.
With respect to performance, most drivers wouldn’t even notice this minimal loss of engine hp
at high rpm as most of the driving is done between 2,000-4,000 rpm where this loss of hp would be de
minimus. When running on mid-grade, there was no noticeable loss of performance as the CX-5 still
acted like a scalded dog when kicked in the butt.
Performance numbers for the CX-5 significantly improved almost to the level of the new Mazda6
turbo with the same engine (CX-5 weighs about 300 pounds more). Zero-60 mph arrived in just 6.18
seconds and 50-70 passing simulations required just 3.38 second on a level highway and 4.40 seconds
up a 6-7 percent grade. The Mazda 6 turbo had numbers of 5.81/3.04/4.09 seconds respectively. The
driving experience with respect to throttle response is almost identical.
But when you compare the numbers to the normally aspirated, 187 hp CX-5 the numbers show
the significance of the turbo motor as the 187 hp CX-5 posted numbers of 8.35/4.47/7.99 seconds. The
difference demonstrates the potent power of this new turbo engine.
Fuel economy is down by about 2 mpg according to the EPA fuel economy cycle with numbers of
22/27/24 mpg city highway/combined. In real life it’s down about four mpg in highway mileage with an
average of 29.4 mpg at a constant 70 mph. Overall fuel economy averaged about 24.8 mpg down about
the two mpg the EPA tests indicate. However, in my 200-mile round trip over the Sierras, the CX-5 turbo
averaged 29.5 mpg up about an mpg over the normally aspirated CX-5 tested about a year ago. The new
turbo spins the same 2,300 rpm at 70 mph in sixth gear.
Handling remains the same in spite of a 200-pound weight infusion. Tires, wheels and state of
the art suspension keep the CX-5 turbo at the top of the class. Nineteen-inch alloys shod with 225/55
series rubber provide excellent grip and crisp turn in. Accurate, well weighted steering at 2.7 turns lock
to lock provide exquisite direction control. CX-5 is a true sporting vehicle, now with the power to really
drive out of corners. Splendid. Maybe some of this new found changing of direction prowess is from the
new G-Vectoring Control Plus system which does aid cornering stability on exit. When it comes to
cowboying, nobody can ride-‘em, slide-‘em and rope-‘em like Mazda.
One of the more noticeable qualities of the CX-5 turbo is the new found quiet and smoothness.
Ride quality is firm and the bigger the bump the better the suspension reflects its compliance.
Safety is enhanced through the new active driving display (heads-up) which incorporates the
blind spot monitor and traffic signs as well as emergency braking. Brakes are superb and the led
headlights with the high beam auto dimming system is fabulous.
Mazda has incorporated its new super soft Nappa leather into the CX-5 bringing up the level of
comfort and luxury to a new level. But remember this new top of the line fully loaded compact CUV
does sticker for about $700 shy of 40 large as the differentiation of midline cars blurs as they now
approach near luxo levels, if they haven’t already arrived.
Instrumentation is Mazda Precise with a large Speedo and tack with instant fuel
economy and range gauges incorporated as well. Trip computer functions and in the digital display
separating the two main instruments. Well done Mazda, perhaps the best in the business.
The center stack is another story when it comes to the infotainment system. Mazda needs to
rethink the complex methodology of controlling the sound system. This quasi-mouse with some touch
screen and sometimes not has got to change even though now I can use it well. That doesn’t mean I like
it, I don’t. Still too many steps required to even change a radio station.
Cargo capacity is about average for this class of vehicle and fuel capacity at 15.3 gallons is too.
Pricing for the top of the line CX-5 Signature hits $36,890 plus $995 for the boat from Hiroshima,
Japan. My tester had a few small items totaling about a grand bringing the total Monroney to $39,325.
CX-5 still retains the head of the class title by a nose, and a nice nose it is.
Price $24,985 to about $34,380
Engine 2.5L inline four 16 valve, DOHC 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm
185 ft-lb of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Six speed torque converter automatic
Transverse front engine/ FWD/AWD
Wheelbase 106.2 inches
Length 179.1 inches
Width 72.5 inches
Height 65.3 inches
Track (f/r) 62.8/62.8 inches
Ground clearance 7.5 inches
Weight 3,825 pounds
GVWR 4,806 pounds
Steering lock to lock 2.7 turns
Turning circle (wall to wall) 38.7 feet
Wheels 19X7 inch alloys
Cargo capacity (second row up/down) 30.9/59.6 cubic feet
Fuel capacity 15.3 gallons
Co-efficient of drag 0.33
0-60 mph 6.18 seconds
50-70 mph 3.38 seconds
50-70 mph uphill 4.40 seconds
Top speed (mfg) 129 mph
Fuel economy EPA rated 22/27/24 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect 24-25 mpg in rural
country driving. 29-30 mpg on a level highway at legal speeds