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  • Larry Weitzman

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,

sleeker lines.

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

CX-9 and Mazda 6, knocking down 250 hp at 5,000 rpm and 310 pounds of twist at 2,000 rpm. But that’s

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

Tires 225/55X19

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


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