DETROIT — Mazda certainly has struck a chord with its CX-5 crossover. I went to the barbershop to get the little hair I have left cut and a manicurist and her customer stopped me as I entered and ask me the make of the vehicle I had parked in front. And to emphasize that this was not a fluke, I gave a friend a ride and when he got out he showed me on his phone how his wife had sent him a photo of a CX-5. They were shopping for a new vehicle.

I’ve always thought that Mazda products had some of the slickest designs on the market. The automaker calls it KODO-Soul design. Look on its website and you’ll find, “Our new KODO “Soul of Motion” design language abounds with graceful, yet energetic, lines. Like the effects of wind or the flow or water, KODO is a unique expression of power and beauty seen in instantaneous motion at the very moment motion begins. It’s a cheetah pouncing on its prey. It’s the moment a sword strikes in the ancient Japanese art of kendo. Its instantaneous power, speed, dignified tension and sophisticated beauty (are all signs of this design language). And it’s highly seductive”

Those are eloquent words that tell you absolutely nothing about how the vehicle looks. First, this design language is embodied in every Mazda. And what it means is that every Mazda has a long gently curved hood, a short rump and gently curving lines over the wheel wells. The grilles are a blacked out angular wide “u” shaped with the hood line on top framing it and cats-eye headlights in the corners.

The bigger the Mazda, the sleeker the look. Thus, with the CX-5, a midsize crossover, the smooth flowing design was more distinct. But there was far more to the experience of the 2019 Mazda CX-5 than the way it looked.

I had the Signature trim all-wheel-drive line. The test vehicle was powered by a new 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that made 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. However, that is with regular gasoline. Pump in premium petrol and horsepower kicks up to 250.

This engine was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. The combination had a fuel rating of 22 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

The CX-5 had some oomph without a lot of fanfare. The engine was small, quiet and ran smoothly. There was some snow during the test drive but not enough to really test its all-wheel-drive system. That was okay with me.

The CX-5 handled pretty well, cornering was good and the build quality was tight. It was quiet, the brakes were solid and there was plenty of room inside. I never had the closed in feeling. The cabin was bright when the sun came out and it was airy.

The Signature trim line is new for the 2019 model year. It featured Caturra Brown Nappa leather seats, layered wood trim and satin chrome accents.  There was unique stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, ambient interior LED lighting, a black headliner and a frameless rearview mirror.

In addition to the interior and the turbocharged engine, the Signature trim line had what Mazda called a refined suspension system and the latest in G-Vectoring Control technologies. There was also a 360º View Monitor with front and rear parking sensors.

My test vehicle also had heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, 19-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights and fog lights and automatic folding sideview mirrors.

Of course, it had satellite radio, Bluetooth and voice controls. Also new were Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-5 had a heads-up-display, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, a power liftgate and a power moonroof.

There was advanced city brakes, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, front and rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring. This was a fully equipped, neatly styled and very maneuverable crossover.

For $39,330 as tested, the 2019 Mazda CX-5 had a lot to offer.

Frank S. Washington is editor of

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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