In the past 3 years, we tested all three of Mazda’s SUVs as they debuted. But with significant changes made for 2019 across the board, however, it was time we updated our opinions. Over the past few months, we’ve spent a week with each of the three SUVs, the compact CX-3, mid-size CX-5, and full-size CX-9. To that end, we’ve given you our 2019 Mazda SUV rundown.
2019 Mazda CX-3
Mazda’s smallest crossover is about to face it’s toughest competition yet, the all-new Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback. Up until now, the CX-3 has been the only small Mazda available with all-wheel drive. Now the CX-3 has only its good looks and crossover moniker to set it apart from its stablemate. Mazda hasn’t let the CX-3 sit idle, however. The one you find at the dealership today is arguably a better can than the one we first drove in 2016. For 2018 models, the CX-3 got Smart City Brake, G-Vectoring Control, and revised chassis and steering settings for improved safety, control, and comfort. Larger changes came for the 2019 model year, with changes to make the engine more efficient and refined, new seats and sound insulation to make the cabin more comfortable, and a change to an electric parking brake to add more cabin storage.
The CX-3 is still as engaging and fun to drive as it was 3 years ago. And what was a segment-leading interior back then is still, in our opinion, one of the best in its class. But the infotainment interface, and the fact that the touch screen disables touch input while the vehicle is moving, could use some improvement. For its price, there isn’t a single compact SUV that we’ve more emphatically recommended to friends and family. The efficiency, value, and IIHS Top Safety Pick make it a great choice for new drivers and discerning drivers alike.
Related: Crossed Over: 2016 Mazda CX-3
2019 Mazda CX-5
The big news this year is that the Mazda CX-5 is now available with the 2.5L Turbo engine. It’s the same engine we’ve tested in the CX-9 and the updated Mazda 6 sedan. We find it to be an excellent fit for the mid-sized CX-5 as well. Like it’s little brother, the CX-3, we’ve always felt that the CX-5 was the most driver-oriented mid-size SUV in its segment. And now with additional power and torque, the fun is dialed up even more. When run on premium fuel, this motor will pump out 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That moves the CX-5 down the road with enough pace to get you to the grocery store faster than your next door neighbor.
Our CX-5 arrived in Signature trim with a dark brown interior. It could have fooled us, though, because we thought the interior seating was black for the longest time. The infotainment system has started to frustrate us, and we can’t wait for the Mazda 3’s new system to take over the entire lineup. An as-tested price of just under $40,000 is a large ask for this segment, but the 2.5T is only available with all-wheel-drive and the top of the line Signature or GT Reserve trims. Is the new engine worth the price of admission? That could depend on your tastes.
Related: Mature: 2017 Mazda CX-5
2019 Mazda CX-9
The CX-9 rounds out the crossover family. The quality and attention to detail were two factors that set the CX-9 apart from its competition when we first experienced it in 2016. Although it has not been redesigned, Mazda has continued to make incremental updates just as they did with the CX-3. The in-car technology has been improved with available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. For those that rely heavily on parking assist and other similar features, Mazda has included a new surround-view parking camera system. Lastly, for those of you concerned with ride quality, the suspension has been re-tuned for a more smooth and car-like ride.
We consistently have positive things to say about Mazda’s interior. It’s simple, elegant, and well engineered with minimal chintzy plastic. Although the addition of smartphone compatibility is a great feature, the infotainment system is starting to become one of Mazda’s weaknesses. Despite our recommendations to some, it’s almost always countered by the less than ideal infotainment. With that said, the newly re-tuned suspension is very noticeable – in a good way. It’s more composed and takes the bumps with ease. The 2.5 turbocharged four cylinder is capable of handling typical traffic and highway speeds but its not what I’d refer to as quick – certainly adequate though. The Signature which we tested came with a sticker price of almost $48k which for the quality and features seems reasonable compared to the competition.
Related: It Matters: 2016 Mazda CX-9
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