“It seems like Mazda has about 30 cars that are all more or less the same.” That’s what one of my friends told me, who also noted that I seem to drive a bunch of Mazdas. The second part of that statement is true. The first part is not accurate. I think what this person was trying to say was more or a less a back handed compliment. Here’s what I think they meant: “Mazda makes a lot of consistently good vehicles across their product line.”

That’s a little more accurate. This week’s offering is the 2019 Mazda CX-5. This compact SUV is one of the most important vehicles in their product line as it competes in an ultra-competitive segment. So that consistency I spoke about is an asset, not a detriment.

PERFORMANCE

For 2019, there’s a new turbo-charged engine. This is even more exciting, because Mazda generally makes vehicles that overperform their output numbers. That’s the case this time with the CX-5. With a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the CX-5 adds exhilaration. There’s a tamer 4-clyinder engine that lacks a turbo and makes me confused why Mazda would even offer it. As tested,  the Mazda CX-5 with the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine makes 227 horsepower. That’s 40 more horses than the non-turbocharged one.

Compile that with superb handling and responsive steering and you have a compact SUV that’s spunky and full of personality. That is hard to find in this milk toast segment. The six-speed automatic transmission seems to lag a little behind at times. I would hope for more gears and a more modern transmission. All-wheel drive improves the handling even more of this fun, squatty SUV.

EXTERIOR

All Mazdas have a look, which again I think is a good thing, not a bad thing. The 2019 CX-5 fits well in the Mazda family. It has a long hood and a short back side. The rear spoiler adds a nice, sporty touch. But on profile, the CX-5 looks every bit the modern compact SUV, without the silly styling or bubbly looks of some of other competitors who might have more “distinction.” I’ll take consistent and timelessness in my styling over flash-in-the-pan bold designs, especially in this segment. All in all, the CX-5 looks the part and has enough distinction that it’s one of my favorites within this segment.

INTERIOR

Inside, the CX-5 really shows why it’s considered one of the best value buys in this segment. Quality touchpoints and a big enough back seat make it memorable. The new top-of-the-line Signature trim takes this SUV to near luxury levels with leather throughout. A heated steering wheel is a great touch and heated and ventilated front seats are fantastic.

Cargo space is limited thanks to the design style and that shorter, stubbier back end. There’s 30.9 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 59.6 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat. That’s below average for the segment.

The infotainment system is still awkward and clunky. All of the infotainment systems in all Mazdas are frustrating for me and are my least favorite in the whole industry. But, for the 2019 model year, the CX-5 now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to override the annoyances of Mazda’s infotainment somewhat. That redeems things quite a bit for me.

PRICING/TRIM

There are two new trims this year, including the Grand Touring and the Signature. My tester showed off the Signature in all its glory. But this trim also costs more than $10,000 above the base trim. My tester had a starting price of $36,890. With some optional equipment, my tester had a final MSRP of $39,330.

FUEL ECONOMY

The CX-5 without a turbo has slightly better fuel economy. If that’s all you care about, then the turbo might not be a good option. But for all the fun it generates, I was satisfied with the 22 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway fuel economy. In a week’s worth of heavy-footed, turbo-firing driving, I averaged just over 24 mpg.

Compliments, whether back handed or not, are earned. And the Mazda CX-5, now with a turbo and better trims, earns praise. Go ahead and call it too consistent. Now it’s consistent and torqued out fun.

SPECS

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature

Price/As tested price………………….. $36,890/$39,330

Mileage…………………………………… 22 mpg/city; 27 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 227 hp/310 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………………….. All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point………………… Hiroshima, Japan

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - jimmydinsmore@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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