2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature essentials: Best of the bunch

Our Opinion: As I said, the Mazda CX-5 competes in one of the more competitive vehicle classes today, even if, truth be told, they all sort of mimic each other in terms of basic size and shape. Oh, and none are exactly rocket ships.The CX-5 stands out in a few ways. One, it’s good looking. Two, the new turbocharged four makes a big difference, revving freely and smoothly and providing some needed grunt. We like this engine in the CX-9 and Mazda 6 sedan and it works really well here, too. Three, the spot-on steering and sporty (but not harsh) ride and lively handling makes the CX-5 among the more-fun crossovers to drive. Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control Plus system gets props for at least part of that enjoyment. To refresh your memory, here’s how it works: When I change the steering angle, software slightly cuts engine torque, shifting weight forward. This increases front-tire grip, improving steering response, stability and handling.I never actually feel any of this happening in the CX-5 and Mazda says I’m not supposed to. The system does what the best drivers instinctively do. The difference is the system does it constantly. It adds up to a rare crossover with an actual personality. In fact it might be the only one. In our crossover-crazed world it’s nice to know the CX-5 is out there to give us an option that’s fun to drive.The interior is the nicest of the bunch in this CX-5 Signature trim, with LED lighting, real wood and leather-trimmed seats. The heated and cooled seats and heated steering wheel are included elsewhere in the lineup, but they’re obviously welcome here too. It also comes with a full selection of safety features including lane keeping and lane departure warning, smart (automatic) braking and radar cruise control with stop and go.The Mazda CX-5 ranges in price from around $25,000 to almost $38,000 and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Unfortunately the public hasn’t caught on yet. It’s perenially far down on the compact CUV list. Last year it was outsold handily by the aforementioned Nissan Rogue, Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V and Chevy Equinox.–Wes Raynal, editor