Monthly Archives: April 2019

2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD: Still some Zoom-Zoom left

The predecessor to the Mazda CX-7 and Tribute, the 2019 redesigned CX-5 is a much-improved edition to the Mazda lineup. Very comfortable, smooth ride, quiet engine and comfortable seating make this a big contender in this market: A very full lineup, to be sure.

Our 2019 CX-5 was the Signature model, topping out at close to $40,000. A bit steep, but the CX-5 can be had for less and in a handful of model trims. Available are the Sport ($24,350), Touring ($26,615) and Grand Touring ($30,245. Front-wheel-drive is the norm, All-wheel-drive available as an option.

Although our Signature model didn’t want for any extras, it did come equipped with a few options, including cargo mat ($70), all-weather floor mats ($125), illuminated doorsill trim plates ($400)-an expensive but nice touch, Soul Red Crystal Paint ($595)-the color of the year, it would seem, rear bumper guard ($125) and retractable cargo cover ($250.  When opting for the Signature trim level, one now expects to get many bells and whistles.

As expected in this price range, one can expect such goodies as the heated power mirrors with turn lamps, auto-fold door mirror (a must with the size of today’s vehicle mirrors), rain-sensing windshield wipers, keyless entry, push-button start, radar cruise, 8-way power driver’s seat,

A Good Housekeeping Awards winner for two years in a row, the Mazda CX-5 gets koodoos for being a “crossover that looks and feels like a luxury vehicle,” but at a much nicer price. Handling and driving experience get an “A” and GH drivers praises the interior for design, with “luxe details.”

Getting more than you pay for seems an important category these days, and why wouldn’t it be? As the average price for a vehicle today hovers around $36,000. Although at times difficult to come up with, paying $36,000 for a vehicle you keep upwards of 5-10 years these days doesn’t seem like such a bad investment.

Although the Zoom-Zoom tag has been retired from Mazda, you can rest assured they still offer great handling, decent power and sports handling in their vehicles.  An attractive exterior goes along with the Mazda CX-5’s luxury interior and goodies like all-wheel-drive.  As always, our test vehicles are the top-of-the-line editions; ours, the Signature with AWD.

Those looking for a compact SUV that doesn’t feel small, the CX-5 fits the bill. By comparison, the Honda CR-V will feel like a smaller vehicle, so too the Rogue. The Toyota RAV4, though, will be a close competitor. Hard choice today.

Changes to the 2019 CX-5 are noticeable, beginning with the new large grille; a favorite item for change these days. The CX-5’s is distinctive, somewhat indented and comes together at the corners with the hood, featuring sporty slim headlights. This lends a more aggressive look to the Mazda and sets it apart.

Drivers might be surprised how quiet the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder turbo engine is; it’s barely noticeable at stops and picks up nicely. Fuel economy hovers around 24-25 mpg., and doesn’t seem to be affected by the turbo, even when ramping it up. Not a SUV driver or necessarily a fan, this writer appreciated the CX-5’s feel, as well as the efforts manufacturer’s are making to get this type of vehicle more driver-friendly and FUN.

Drivers won’t be disappointed with the CX-5’s new turbocharged 2.5-liter SkyActiv GI4 engine. Better than some turbos, one doesn’t feel that annoying lag, and can expect a burst of power, and not at the expense of your wallet.

Mazda’s use of G-Vectoring Control Plus uses intermittent light braking on each wheel as you take the corners. The torque vectoring system offers excellent handling that feels sporty, and not so like a SUV.

Frissell’s Fido Friendly Ride

The pups rode with me a few times and both when the rear seats were up and when down. Either way, there’s plenty of room for them and they preferred the windows cracked a tad. The rear seats fold down flat so accommodating dogs or otherwise is a snap. By measure, the Honda CR-V has a bit more cargo room, but for most, the CX-5 space is sufficient.

The Mazda CX-5 interior with leather seats-perforated-offers comfortable seating for all size of drivers. Seats are well-formed and rear seating can hold up to three passengers in comfort. Rear seats in our Signature model were also heated-nice plus. Chrome trim around the dash, with wood insets. Those opting for this trim level will also enjoy a sunroof.

The steering wheels is manual tilt/telescope, and of course, has multiple controls to operate just about anything from the steering wheel. All is intuitive and easy to work.

Of course, one can opt for a more affordable CX-5 in the Sport trim level. But when moving into the top-of-the-line Signature, you get all you need, including heated/cooled front seats, sunroof, top notch safety equipment, 360-degree camera, etc. AWD is standard on this model.


MSRP: $36,890; total vehicle price $39,450; options:    delivery $995

Engine: SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter, 1.4 intercooled turbo, 227 hp., 31- lb-ft. torque

Transmission: 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive Auto; manual shift mode, sport mode

Wheelbase: 106.2 in.

Height: 65.3 in.

Width: 62.8 in.

Length: 179.1 in.

Curb Weight: 3,825 lbs.

Tires: P225-55R19 all-season

Wheels: 19-inch alloy

EPA MPG: 22/27

Competition: Honda CRV, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Toyota RAV4, etc.

Size: 5-passenger

 Warranty: 60 month/60,000-miles powertrain lass:

Class: Compact Crossover SUV

Where assembled: Hiroshima, Japan

2019 Lexus LS500 4 DR. Sedan

Susan Frissell, publisher, Women With Wheels

What can one say about the infamous, beautifully designed and executed Lexus LS500 sedan? It’s the best of the best and stands above most others in this somewhat fading category. The Lexus500 “prestige” luxury sedan is available in three iterations: LS500, LS 500F-Sport and LS500h. Our LS was equipped with Lexus’ 3.5-liter Twin Turbo engine, V8 matched to a CVT transmission.

The week’s drive included both city driving, short trips and over the highway, between Indianapolis and Chicago, in mild weather. What can be said about this luxo-boat when traveling across the highway. It goes without saying as there are few who match this vehicle. One can tell by our review this is a favored sedan, although its practicality is questionable, in today’s car price world.

The twin-turbo V6 is also available and new to the brand. The LS500h hybrid edition ups the mpg to about 33 mpg, with 354 horsepower. What was noticeable on Indy’s pothole-filled streets was the way the LS navigated the rough roads. Gingerly going over local side streets took some concentration (over protective!), but the Lexus’ tuning made it possible to take these concrete pavement and potholes with confidence.

As one would expect the interior is constructed of the best materials, including fine leather seating, with 28-way adjustable seats. A match with to its European rivals, the LS is top-notch. We especially liked the updated Z-styled headlights, supremely comfortable luxury features.

The LS’ new wheel design is particularly handsome and we’re growing very fond of the darker wheels; in this case the dark-silver alloy machine finish. Trying to miss low curbs and any other obstructions made this writer nervous.

Rear-seat passengers can expect lots of rear-seat space, for legs and arms. Passengers can easily sit back and work on their laptop while enjoying the ride. As expected in all Lexus products, the LS’ interior is over the top, but appreciated, and it’s new, updated shape is a knockout. In years past, it was hard to justify the price of this rather bland 4-door, large sedan. But for 2019, it’s finally come into its own and shouts “luxury-prestige-class.”

What we didn’t like was the LS’ infotainment menagerie. The driver has a difficult time trying to find a radio station, change the temperature inside the cabin or do anything else while driving. Too dangerous. Too complicated.       

There isn’t a lot to dislike about the LS500, but one nit-pick might be the spring-like ride; not as sophisticated as we would expect, although hardly worth crabbing about. Steering resembles that of a large sedan; a tad floaty and somewhat imprecise, but then, we’re not driving a “performance” car. And again, the difficult to figure out infotainment system.  There isn’t anything to dislike about the Mark Levinson 23 audio system with 23 speakers. We regret not taking more time to just sit and listen to the Levinson, exploring different types of music.

Our test LS500 included the F Sport Package which we very much favor. Included in the package is the F Sport exterior styling, front bumper, mesh grille inserts, rear diffuser and lower door trim, six-piston front brake calipers w/15-7-in ventilated discs, four piston rear brake calipers with 14.1-inch variable suspension (AVS), LFA-inspired sliding instrumentation, F Sport trimmed steering wheel and shift knob with Ultrasuede headliner, F Sport 28-way power-adjustable front seats and embossed headrests, aluminum pedals and interior trim. It’s a beauty.

There is a little more engine noise, improved handling and additional sport drive select modes if you prefer to change your driving feel. The newly designed LS does feel smaller than it’s size and when stepping out of it, a look back reminds you how big it really is. It resembles, somewhat, the sedans (“boats”) of old, yet not floaty.

Options on our press vehicle included just two packages: The Mark Levinson audio system with 23 speakers ($1,940), and 24-inch heads-up display (HUD), which more than once talked back to me. Someone who drives two-footed, more than once I was told that my brake pedal and gas pedal were being pressed simultaneously!! I loved it.

The F-Sport leather heated steering wheel came at no extra charge. Nice on cold days.

The freshly designed 2019 Lexus LS500 now includes Apple CarPlay compatible with Amazon Alexa, and amazon Echo and Android Auto. A 12.3-inch infotainment display with touchpad interface is standard. Responses are slow when operating the touchpad, and as mentioned, awkward while driving.

If you’re interested in a hybrid, the LS is offered in one with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with two electric motors, 44-KWH lithium-ion battery, trick 4-speed auto transmission made just for the hybrid version. One motor is in use at lower speeds while the gas and second electric motors kick in for more power at higher speeds. The hybrid cannot be plugged in, and the small battery can only handle a few miles of electric-only operation. Average mpg is 33 mpg.

The 2019 LS500 sports a 1.3-inch longer wheelbase, up from the previous generation. Seats are heated and cooled, and a 22-way option with a raised ottoman is standard. If your back gets a little sore, you can choose from multiple massage styles!

One can choose from 10 exterior colors; ours was the elegant Liquid Platinum (silverfish). And of course, all the most up-to-date features are standard, some of which include driver/passenger folding mirrors when car is turned off, integrated key remote, cruise with dynamic radar, cruise center lane dis., navigation, 12-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, USB, active noise cancellation. Because so much is included in a base LS500, few options are available: The Mark Levinson Audio System, F Sport trim, Executive Pacakage.


MSRP: $84,420; total vehicle price $88,605; delivery $1,025; Options $3.160

Engine: 3.5-liter Twin Turbo 416 hp., DOHC 24-valve, V8 engine with CVT Timing with intelligence

Transmission: A@D w/Torsen Limited Sliip Center Differential D-4S Direct Cylinder Injection System, 10-speed Sequential Automatic, Drive Mode Select; Eco/Normal/Sport S and Sport S+

Steering: Electronic-power

Tires: 245/50R19 AS, V-rated Run Flat Tires; optional: 24/45RF20 + 275/40RF20 All Season

Wheels: 19-inch alloy with dark-silver, machine finish standard; option 20-inch Split Five Spoke Alloy Wheel w/Dark Graphite finish

EPA MPG: 25/33 mpg

Two trims, 4 configurations

Pricing $75,300-$84,520

Midsize car, Prestige Luxury Sedan, 4-door, 5 seats

Length: 206.1 in.

Width: 74.8 in.

Wheelbase: 123.0

Height: 57.5 in.

Curb Weight: 4,707

Trunk Capacity: 16.95 cu. Ft.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.7 gal.

Warranty: 48/50,000-miles Bumper-to-Bumper, 72 mths/70,000-miles Roadside Assistance, 72 mths/70,000-miles Powertrain.

Competitors: 2019 Maserati Ghibli, Acura TLX, Tesla Model S