The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a totally new five-passenger compact crossover utility vehicle. Defined by the Honda CR-V for the past 10 years, the rapidly expanding compact utility vehicle category includes the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, and Ford Escape.
The Mazda CX-5 distinguishes itself with sleek styling, excellent fuel economy and agile handling. It looks great and it's more fun to drive than the other CUVs.
Perhaps most notable is its fuel economy: CX-5 gets an EPA-rated 26/35 miles per gallon City/Highway with front-wheel drive and 6-speed manual, 26/32 mpg with front-wheel drive and 6-speed automatic, 25/31 mpg with all-wheel drive and automatic. Mazda claims the CX-5 gets the best fuel economy in its class and the best fuel economy on the highway of any SUV. And it runs on Regular gas.
Designed from scratch, the Mazda CX-5 represents a fresh set of design computer algorithms, with underpinnings and technology Mazda intends to adapt to future vehicles. The new CX-5 is slightly taller than the CX-7, which the CX-5 replaces. Mazda is expected to stop importing the CX-7 into the U.S. in the not too distant future.
The new Mazda CX-5 is larger than it looks. Overall length, width, and height measurements of the CX-5 are nearly an inch larger than those of the new 2012 Honda CR-V. However, at 106.3 inches, the CX-5 wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer than that of the CR-V, an advantage for the Mazda in terms of ride quality.
Curb weight promises to be another Mazda CX-5 advantage. With a large percentage of high-tensile steel in its structure, a CX-5 with front-wheel drive weighs just 3208 pounds, according to Mazda, 288 pounds lighter than the minimum for a comparable CX-7, and, more significant, almost 100 pounds less than the equivalent Honda CR-V.
Another Mazda CX-5 distinction versus the Honda CR-V is the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission as well as a 6-speed automatic. However, note that the shift-for-yourself gearbox is available only on the basic trim level with front-wheel drive. CX-5 models equipped with all-wheel drive come with a 6-speed automatic.
The CX-5 is the first total vehicle application of a new engineering approach Mazda calls Skyactiv Technology. One of the more obscure marketing labels in recent memory, Skyactiv is portrayed by Mazda as a total design integration of engine, transmissions, and body shell, but the critical element is the new 2.0-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engine. Designed for maximum efficiency, the new engine is light, with a number of friction-reducing measures, a new exhaust manifold design, an exceptionally high compression ratio (13:1), and runs on regular unleaded fuel. The engine has already propelled the Mazda 3 compact into the 40 mpg club. Although the CX-5 is a heavier vehicle, the SkyActiv combination of engine, compact transmission designs, and low vehicle weight helps the new crossover achieve excellent fuel economy.
The Mazda engine delivers respectable performance on the road, but the competition offers more powerful engines. The new engine is rated for a modest 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, well down the power charts in this class. Still, if 0-to-60 mph were really important in this class, the CX-7's optional 244-horsepower turbo model would rule.
The CX-5's appeal lies in good fuel economy, excellent road manners, attractive styling, and the now-expected array of telematic features. We found the CX-5 impressive in a number of areas that matter in this category: fuel economy, comfort, versatility, road manners, styling, and safety features. And while acceleration is so-so, the CX-5's agility and exceptionally accurate steering make it entertaining to drive.