Mazda CX-5 is all new for 2013
By KIRK BELL For Sun-Times Media June 18, 2012 6:25PM
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is an all-new compact crossover featuring an updated platform, engine and transmission. Heck, Mazda even redesigned the nuts and bolts to take the tiniest bits of mass out of the vehicle.
The reason for all that new stuff is Mazda’s new SkyActiv engineering philosophy. The idea is to make every part and system work together to achieve lower weight, greater efficiency, and a passionate marriage of car and driver.
Thanks to a low curb weight of just over 3200 pounds, the CX-5 proved to be downright agile when I drove it on the track. With front- or all-wheel drive, it entered and rotated through corners like a small sedan, with only the raised ride height and some well-controlled body lean to indicate it’s a crossover.
While few if any owners will ever take their CX-5s on a racetrack, all those traits do carry over to the street, where the controlled handling makes it easy to maneuver. It also offers plenty of road feel through the steering wheel, though for a vehicle this sporty we would also like the steering to have a quicker ratio and a bit more heft. On top of all that, the CX-5 balances its accomplished dynamic character with a smooth ride. Usually, only high-end luxury cars can boast such balance.
The CX-5’s engine is a mixed bag. Mazda’s new 2.0-liter four-cylinder employs a lot of technology to be fuel efficient and powerful for its size, but it’s just too small to make the CX-5 quick. The engine makes 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. With front-wheel drive, 0 to 60 mph takes about eight seconds, which is about the norm for a four-cylinder. AWD likely adds a few tenths of a second.
The engine sends its power through one of two transmissions. The six-speed manual in the base model makes the CX-5 the most efficient crossover on the market, with EPA fuel economy ratings of 26 mpg city/35 highway. With the new six-speed automatic, those numbers fall to 26/32 with front-wheel drive and 25/31 with AWD. The manual is easy to shift, offers a natural clutch feel, and does the best job of getting the most out of the engine’s limited power.
The CX-5’s interior is almost as impressive as its dynamics. In a class replete with interiors that often feel cheap, the CX’5s cockpit stands out. Instead of hard plastic everywhere, it has soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard, door tops and armrests. The dashboard is accented by piano black and satin chrome trim, and the gauges have a quality, almost watch-like appearance.
Buyers can choose the model and options to give their CX-5s a premium feel. The base model, which is called Sport and starts at $20,695, has cloth upholstery, push-button starting, and a stereo with a USB port to connect MP3 players. The $23,895 Touring adds a 5.8-inch dashboard display with a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, HD radio, and a Blind Spot Monitoring System, and the $27,045 Grand Touring gets leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bose audio with satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control and a sunroof. Other options include the aforementioned navigation system, remote engine starting, and an auto-dimming mirror with a universal garage door opener.
In size and price, the CX-5 crowds the older CX-7 out of the Mazda lineup. Though it is five inches shorter overall, it actually has more interior space thanks to smart space utilization. The sporty front seats are quite supportive, and they have enough head and legroom for even taller occupants.
The rear seat is roomy, too, making the CX-5 a good choice for families. The rear cargo area is among the largest in the class. Those seats are offered in a 60/40 or 40/20/40 split, and they can be folded from the rear doors or tailgate area.
Overall, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 debuts as one of the best compact crossovers, and it bodes well for the future of Mazda’s SkyActiv engineering philosophy. Its combination of sporty dynamics, useful interior space, and thrifty fuel economy makes it stand out from a largely generic group of competitors.
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