Going Upscale: The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD
The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD.
The Mazda CX-5 has long been a favorite of ours here at TireKicker.  Our last review, two years ago, amounted to raves, and if you'll follow the links in that piece, you'll find the story of how it won our hearts in the spring of 2015 with a jam-packed long weekend trip to Southern California and back packed with people (including two teenage girls---my stepdaughters) and their things.

Interior view of 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD interior.

So what's new?  Well, Mazda has expanded its top-of-the-line Signature trim to the CX-5 this year.  That means an already well-designed and comfortable interior now has Nappa leather seats, genuine layered wood trim and satin aluminum accents.  There's also a leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique stitching, ambient LED interior lighting, a black headliner and a frameless rear-view mirror.

New as well are a 360-degree monitor with front and rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats, power-folding mirrors, a three-year SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link subscription and the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the infotainment system.

Side view of 2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD.
There's also performance news, as higher trim levels of the CX-5 this year get the upgraded 227-horsepower version of the 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G engine that debuted in the CX-9 and has also made its way to the Mazda 6 sedan.  Mazda says it will deliver 250 horsepower on 93 octane gas, 227 with regular 87 octane.

For enhanced stability, G-Vectroring Control Plus is now standard on all CX-5s.  Steering geometry was tweaked and the suspension re-tuned to reduce friction---all in pursuit of a smoother ride.

The quest for refinement helps justify a significant leap in the price tag when you say yes to the Signature AWD.    We've watched the base price on the CX-5s we've driven in the last four years go from $28,220 for what was then the top-of-the-line  2016 Grand Touring to $30,695 for the '17 to $36,890 for this 2019 Signature AWD.

Now, that price does give you a breathtaking level of standard equipment (click here for Mazda's own list), so the value at base level is pretty strong.  But add options as our tester did ($75 for a cargo mat, $400 for illuminated door sill plates, $595 for Soul Red crystal metallic paint, $125 for a rear bumper guard, $250 for a retractable cargo cover) and with $995 delivery processing and handling fee, you're bumping up against a huge psychological border---$39,325---a sneeze away from 40 grand.

Our answer would probably still be yes---it's that nice a machine---but 40 large for the midsize Mazda crossover takes some getting used to.