There are two types of car buyers in the Philippines: those who look for value for money through practicality, and those who choose style and quality over passenger capacity. The Mazda CX-5 caters to the latter and it does so with flying colors. Even better, it comes with a diesel option, which Filipinos tend to favor more over gasoline types because of its relatively cheaper price.
However, the 2019 CX-5 SkyActiv-D comes with a premium against its rivals, which would raise a burning question from the budget-conscious Filipino car buyers: Is it worth it? That’s what I aim to answer in this in-depth review.
In this age of machismo styling in compact crossovers, the CX-5 begs to differ with its flowing lines and sensuous curves. It invokes sultriness with its narrow eyes and tapered boxes. The array of LEDs are aesthetically pleasing as they’re functional, plus the 19-inch aluminum alloy rims’ design complements the personality of the vehicle. Except maybe for the pin fog lights – they look good at night but during my tests one foggy morning, they don’t do much to add visibility for the driver, but they definitely add conspicuity under low visibility.
My favorite part of Mazda’s Kodo design is the apparent build quality that comes with every car. One look and you’ll know that it’s a classy vehicle, with just enough chrome accents. I don’t mind the rather bleak Sonic Silver color of the media tester – the CX-5 is sexy and alluring whatever color it carries.
The sultry curves continue inside the Mazda CX-5. The layout employs continuous lines that flank the dashboard, while you’ll definitely notice coherence in the elements of interior design. This unified approach to the design is partnered with the use of plush materials such as leather, satin chrome, faux-wood, and soft plastics. The downside is, there’s extensive use of scratchy piano black plastics by the door controls and around the gear lever, which we all know don’t age well.
For storage, the door pockets in the front cabin are quite huge while there’s a space near the gear lever for your smartphone. The cupholders are spaced out nicely, as well, including the ones found in the foldable center armrest at the back. Luggage space behind the second row is at 471-liters, which ranks among the biggest in its class. This doubles up when the rear seats are folded via two levers found at the rear – a pretty nifty feature, really.
The CX-5’s ride comfort leans towards the sporty side, but not to the point of painful plight over potholes and light off-road. The seating position, whether you’re the driver, front passenger, or rear passengers are well supported even during long trips. Rear legroom would be enough for those standing at 5’8” and below, but it would be a squeeze for three passengers of this height since there’s a relatively tall transmission tunnel in the middle. Headroom isn’t the biggest out there because of the car’s design, but it isn’t low enough to enforce a claustrophobic journey. NVH insulation, on the other hand, is superb at all times.
Mazda paid attention to the influx of technological advancements in filling out the spec sheet of the CX-5. The features are quite a handful, so I’ll just list those who work as they should: keyless entry, push-start ignition, adaptive LED headlamps with auto-leveling function, rain-sensing wipers, speed-sensing door locks, electronically-adjustable driver and passenger seats, electronic parking brake with brake hold, cruise control, auto up/down driver’s window, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control system, and power tailgate.
With the lot of tech features available, there will, of course, a bit of a gripe. The i-Stop feature is superfluous if you ask me. The floating seven-inch infotainment system doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which comes as a desirable connectivity option in cars these days. It does connect with iPhone seamlessly, though, so music listening is still pleasurable especially with Bose speakers scattered inside the cabin. Plus, the head unit displays upcoming streets you’ll intersect with – a simple yet helpful navigational feature if you’re not using Waze.
Lastly, the CX-5 also has an active driving display projected to the windshield. It isn’t obtrusive and it displays a lot of information like the current speed limit, speedometer, lane departure warning, and blind spot warning. USB ports are also abundant inside the cabin, which can be found inside the center console box and by the foldable center armrest.
The CX-5 comes equipped with several active safety features mentioned previously like blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and speed limit warning – all displayed via the head up display.
These tech toys are on top of the passive safety features like dual front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as ABS with EBD, five 3-point seatbelts, ISOFIX child seat anchors, stability control, and seatbelt reminders. It also has an immobilizer for security.
Driving & Handling
2.2-liter SkyActiv-D diesel engine that’s capable of flushing out 175 metric horses and a healthy 420 Nm of torque. Comparing these numbers against other diesel compact crossovers like the Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V, you’ll find that the horsepower output is a bit short by at least 8 hp versus the Kia. However, the CX-5 towers over the CR-V by a mile, and it showed on the actual drive.
The 2019 CX-5 didn’t leave me wanting for more power on several occasions. Whether I was overtaking, making a steep uphill climb, or just tackling a ramp, Mazda’s SkyActiv-D engine delivered quite nicely with every step on the accelerator. The six-speed conventional torque converter transmission was sensitive with what the situations demand and wasn’t hesitant to downshift when needed. Although I still wish the CX-5 comes with a paddle shifter, manual shifting was possible through the most logically and naturally designed +/- on a gear lever: push the lever to downshift and pull to upshift.
The CX-5’s handling was also one of its greatest strength. The heavy steering translated to a precise control when tackling twisties, supplemented by the AWD system and Mazda’s G-Vectoring control. With this, there’s minimal, almost negligible, body roll even when going over long curves at speeds. City maneuvers were a bit of a workout, but it wasn’t hard to live with. Rear visibility was a bit hampered, though, because of the tapering window design. Brakes were notably strong during the testing period.
Driven with only two people on board with little to no cargo, the Mazda CX-5 registered stellar fuel efficiency numbers during the testing period.
Driving within heavy city traffic for an hour read back 9.1 km/L while faster paces on a Sunday clocked in 16.8 km/L at an average speed of 60 km/h. Flat highway stints with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h gave back 26.1 km/L, at best – a very surprising reading for a crossover but it is what it is. I’ve done the highway fuel economy testing for this car more than twice and it read back similar numbers. Quite impressive.
Okay, let’s be straight. The 2019 Mazda CX-5 Diesel comes in at P2,230,000, which is a bit steep when compared to the price range of its rivals in the compact crossover segment. It’s even pricier than the other AWD diesel Honda CR-V, with the latter having an edge with its adaptive cruise control.
But, let’s face it – you won’t buy a Mazda because you’re worried about its price. You’ll probably buy one because of its acclaimed driving dynamics, several features, and the esteemed overall build quality that could rival even the premium brands that are pricier by more than a million pesos.
Now, is it worth it? Definitely, even with this car’s imperfections. The overall experience that the CX-5 employs is worth investing in – Mazda’s free 3-year preventive maintenance service and outstanding fuel consumption are just bonuses.