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Test Drive column: 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD Turbo

Greg Zyla
More Content Now
The Chronicle Express

Entry price: $25,190

Price as tested: $39,425

This week, it’s the popular 2020 Mazda CX-5 we review, and the big news for 2020 is the addition of an improved turbocharged version that makes the CX-5 a hot property. Although the non-turbo version is a completely capable vehicle with all of Mazda’s SkyActiv engineering advantages, the turbo increases torque to a most impressive 310 lb. ft. at 2,000 RPM.

In layman’s terms, you’ll know it’s a turbo the minute you press on the accelerator as all of the power is there immediately thanks to its lower RPM torque application. So, for the time being, that old Mazda advertising slogan of “Zoom Zoom” is back in a big way as you can expect zero to 60 mph in about 6.2 seconds.

Mazda’s midsize CX-5 fits perfectly in line as one of four SUV’s available, including CX-3, new CX-30, our CX-5 tester and largest sibling CX-9. All of the SUV’s by Mazda are five-passenger units with the exception of the CX-9, listed as a seven-passenger three row unit.

Mazda CX-5 offers spacious interior features considering it’s not officially listed by the EPA as a midsize vehicle. Our tester’s top line Signature model arrives with standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) while the above mentioned turbocharger is also standard fare for 2020.

However, remember that it doesn’t take close to $40K to own a well equipped CX-5.

The CX-5’s start at just $25,190 for the entry level Sport, followed by the Touring at $26,830. Next up is the Grand Touring at $30,310, and then the AWD and turbo versions Grand Touring Reserve at $35,135 and our top-line Signature at $37,155.

Regardless of model choice, all feature Mazda’s great looking CX-5 design and mechanical wizardry the company calls SkyActiv engineering. Standard on every ’20 CX-5 is forward collision warning with “city speed” automatic emergency braking, a most notable no-extra-cost addition. If you want AWD on Sport and Touring models, add $1,400 and you’ll be ready for some off-road adventures and/or more secure driving on challenging, snow covered roads.

As for some history, CX-5 debuted in 2013 and following great consumer and editorial praise, took off in a big way and surpassed 1 million sold worldwide in 2017. And being that the word “complacent” is not in the company dictionary, Mazda improved the CX-5 every year concentrating on amenities, engine, suspension and safety advancements that fit its SkyActiv dogma. Included are innovations like Mazda “G-Vectoring,” its nomenclature for enhanced body, ride and handling control. Although complex, G-Vectoring impacts vehicle speed, throttle position, and rate of steering wheel rotation. Featured is slight braking upon cornering entry, weight distribution stabilization and improved throttle response coming off the corner.

Outwardly, CX-5 features a prominent grille, LED head and tail lights and improved fascia that lead to an overall impressive aerodynamic design. The interior has been upgraded, too, and is so roomy you’ll think it’s a full size more so than its official EPA listing of a “small SUV.”

For 2020, CX-5’s base non-AWD engine is the popular 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that generates 187 horses and 186 lb. ft. of torque. Fuel mileage for the front drive models are 24 city and 31 highway while AWD models deliver 24 city and 30 highway.

However, when you move up to the more powerful Grand Touring Reserve and Signature versions, the little 2.5-liter becomes stronger thanks to the addition of the turbo that really adds to the performance number. Horsepower moves up to 227 with 87 octane fuel or 250 with the 93 octane fuel resulting with the torque moving all the way up to the aforementioned 310. The only drawback is fuel mileage, which is down to 22 city and 27 highway with AWD mechanicals.

As for gear changing, all CX-5’s rely on Mazda’s proven six-speed automatic transmission that is designed for both peppy acceleration and highway cruising. The transmission features a Sport mode for better RPM control and performance.

Underneath, CX-5 features a MacPherson strut front suspension that combines with a multi-link rear setup resulting in an agile, quiet and fun to drive SUV. It’s easy to park and a pleasure on the open highway.

Our top class Signature tester features standard features galore, including heated and ventilated eight-way power driver seat with lumbar, six-way power passenger seat, push button start, windshield driving display, and windshield wiper deicer. The list goes on with the Signature, however, as blind spot monitoring, rain sense wipers, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth, tilt and telescopic steering, Apple and Android compatibility, Mazda Connect Infotainment with navigation, 10-speaker Bose surround sound stereo, heated steering wheel, SiriusXM, power moonroof, four USB inputs, power liftgate, 7.0-inch display, back-up safety camera, heated rear seats with 40/20/40 tri-split, Nappa leather trim, and more are all standard.

Overall, the cabin delivers impressive detailing, lots of storage areas, excellent instrumentation and several color combinations to choose from.

Additionally, safety items are many and include rear cross traffic alert, lane departure, lane keep assist, 360-degree rear monitor, all the airbags, hill launch assist, dynamic stability control, traction control and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes. Special bright/dark two-tone alloy wheels on 19-inch tires help deliver the turbo power to the ground and provide excellent grip. When you package all these safety items together, Mazda CX-5 in any dress enjoys a 5-Star overall safety rating and also an IIHS Top Safety pick.

A few ancillary options like a $125 rear bumper guard, $125 all weather floor mats, $250 roof rack crossbars, $120 front and rear splash guards, $250 retractable cargo cover brought the final retail to $39,425 retail with $1,100 included for delivery. Your Mazda dealer will explain all incentives and discounts currently available.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.2 inches, 3,825 curb weight, 15.3 gallon fuel tank, 36 ft. turn circle, 7.5-inch ground clearance, 2,000 lb. tow capacity and from 30.6 to 59.6 cu. ft. of cargo space depending on rear seat arrangement.

Mazda continues to stay ahead of the curve with its 2020 CX-5, especially for those who seek more “Zoom-Zoom.” Check with your dealer for any current incentives and test drive both the front and AWD versions for better comparisons, with and without the turbo.

Likes: Looks, safety, comfort, turbo.

Dislikes: Infotainment learning curve, no Apple/Android compatibility on entry Sport, small display screen.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD Turbo.