2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5 Review:
Sometimes you can find a cake that is just as tasty without the frosting.
Such is the situation with Mazda’s all-new 2013 CX-5. For just $21,490, you can order the base Sport model with just about everything you might want in a compact crossover utility vehicle—one that competes directly against such formidable opponents as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4.
Sure, if you want to load up the CX-5 with every option available, you can spend about 10 grand more. But it’s all frosting, with the possible exception of a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s because the Sport comes with a slick six-speed manual. It’s the only version available with the stick shift, and if you’re any kind of enthusiast it’s the transmission of choice.The thing about the CX-5 is that every model in the lineup—from the Sport through the Touring and top-line Grand Touring—incorporates Mazda’s new Skyactiv technology, which infuses virtually every component with engineering wizardry that transforms the CX-5 from an everyday people and cargo mover into one that delivers sporting flair.
It means that you can take your family-oriented people and cargo hauler to the autocross—or even a racetrack—on a weekend and wind up with a foolish grin on your face after flogging it around as if it were some sort of mutant sports car.
The Skyactiv stuff includes a new 155-horsepower four-cylinder engine that Mazda says has the highest compression ratio—13 to 1—of any gasoline engine on the planet and yet runs on regular gasoline.
That leads to another claim. Mazda says the manual-gearbox, front-drive CX-5 Sport has the best fuel economy of any sport utility vehicle anywhere, including hybrids. It has a city/combined/highway EPA fuel consumption rating of 26/29/35 miles to the gallon.
With all-wheel drive and the automatic transmission, the numbers are 25/28/31, which Mazda says is the best fuel economy of any all-wheel drive SUV.
Skyactiv permeates practically the entire vehicle. Both the six-speed manual gearbox and the six-speed automatic also are new, as is the optional all-wheel drive system (front-drive is standard).
The stick shift on the Sport has a tactile feel and moves through the gears effortlessly. Clutch action is smooth and progressive. The optional six-speed automatic (standard on the Touring and Grand Touring trims) can be shifted manually and automatically blips the pedal to match the engine revolutions to the lower gear on downshifts. That’s the sort of embellishment you find on hot sports cars.Exterior styling on the CX-5 has a laid-back look from front pillars that have been moved rearward, as well as flowing sheet metal. The styling, however, comports with current compact crossover trends, as in the Ford Escape, so the CX-5 doesn’t stand out quite as much as one might expect.
The interior is another thing altogether. With elegant piano black trim, easy-read instruments and a soft-touch instrument panel, the base Sport looks just as classy as the Grand Touring. The only major difference is the Grand Touring comes with leather upholstery while the Sport and Touring models have comfortable and durable cloth.
There’s nothing base about the base Sport. Besides the classy interior treatments, there are the supportive front seats with substantial bolstering for spirited driving; pushbutton starting; 17-inch alloy wheels; air conditioning; a decent audio system; cruise control; power windows and locks; outside-mirror turning lamps, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with function controls.
For $400, you can order an options package with Bluetooth connectivity, high-definition radio and a color touch-screen monitor. Add another $1,200 for the six-speed automatic transmission. Total: $23,090.
Up the scale are the Touring model at $24,690 and the Grand Touring at $29,090. The latter includes the aforementioned leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, a motorized sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, satellite radio, power driver’s seat and rain-sensing windshield wipers, among other things. Add $1,325 for navigation, high-intensity headlights and an auto-dimming inside mirror for a factory-equipped sticker of $30,415.If you must spend more, there are a myriad of dealer-installed options, including roof rails, a trailer hitch (the CX-5 can tow up to 2,000 pounds) and remote-controlled engine starting.
However you equip it, the CX-5 is fundamentally a vehicle that provides compact crossover utility to go with its substantial performance capabilities. However, it is stronger on handling than power. With 155 horsepower and plenty of transmission flexibility to get the horses on the pavement, you’re not going to be embarrassed in stoplight and freeway on-ramp springs.
But there will be times—going up a long grade or steep hills in the mountains when the engine gives its little pistons a workout. With two aboard, downshifting was required; one can only imagine the challenge with a couple of kids and a load of vacation stuff in the back and on the top.
Interior room is about average for the class. There’s 104 cubic feet for passengers and 34 cubic feet for cargo behind the back seat. That’s enough for decent knee and head room in back, though the center position, as usual, is compromised. The popular Honda CR-V has 102/37.
Model: 2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport four-door crossover utility vehicle.
Engine: 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder, 155 horsepower.
Transmission: Six-speed manual with front-wheel drive.
Overall length: 14 feet 11 inches.
EPA passenger/cargo volume: 104/34 cubic feet. (102/37 CRV)
Weight: 3,208 pounds.
EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 26/35/29 miles to the gallon.
Base price, including destination charge: $21,490.
Price as tested: $21,490.
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