2013 Mazda CX-5

First Drive

Advocate WHEELS editor

All-new from the tires up,
Mazda’s CX-5 compact crossover delivers a class-leading 35 miles per gallon of regular unleaded gas on the highway. It’s also the first Mazda with a full suite of SKYACTIV technologies. Engine, transmission, body and chassis components are all part of the SKYACTIV suite, which is aimed at overall vehicle efficiency.

The CX-5 engine is a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 155 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or a SKYACTIV 6-speed automatic that combines conventional automatic and dual-clutch automatic technologies. Mazda says the transmission acts like a conventional automatic at low speeds, but at speeds above 8 mph the torque converter is locked and the transmission operates like a dual-clutch, with fast shifts and minimal power interruption. Front wheel drive is standard with a manual shifting feature, and AWD is available.

The main idea behind Mazda’s exclusive SKYACTIV technologies is to harmonize the vehicle’s components to achieve the best combination of power, torque, fuel economy, safety and design.

The new SKYACTIV transmission is superb, but the engine, we believe, could use more power. That’s the constant goal of automakers: better mileage without sacrificing power. Engineers are constantly trying to squeeze more miles per gallon out of engines, and Mazda obviously succeeds in the CX-5. Officially, the vehicle with AWD gets 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the road, for a combined rating of 28 mpg. The front-wheel drive manual version gets 26 mpg in the city and the class-leading 35 mpg on the highway.

Mazda says the CX-5 design is inspired by KODO, or “soul of motion.” While design, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, we think the CX-5 has a sharp, cleand-and-lean appearance. The front black grille is new, and sweeping side lines give the CX-5 a muscular and sculpted look.

The CX-5 is available in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Our test car, the Grand Touring AWD, is pretty much the top of the line, and included many of the luxury features found in much more expensive SUVs. Standard amenities included a tilt/telescoping leather steering wheel with controls, rain-sensing wipers, one-touch driver’s window, dual-zone climate control, a 5.8-inch color monitor and backup camera, Bose sound, Bluetooth
connectivity, HD satellite radio and 8-way power heated front seats.

The interior is comfortable and refined, with soft-touch materials in all the right spots. Controls and gauges are well thought out and intuitively placed. Headroom is good in front at 40.1 inches, and the second row is a 40/20/40 split seat.

Other than the power issue, the CX-5 driving experience is quite satisfying. The little SUV hugs the road, with scant lean in heavy cornering. The CX-5 has a full complement of six airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability and traction control, all of which help earn the vehicle a “Top Safety Pick” designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD base price is $28,595. The Grand Touring Tech package adds navigation, HID auto-leveling and adaptive headlights, keyless entry with pushbutton start and an auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink. The Grand Touring Tech package is a steal at just $1,325. Our top of the line, loaded, check-all-the-boxes CX-5 test vehicle had a bottom line of $31,480, including $795 in freight.

With class-leading mileage, a comfortable interior, a top safety rating and reasonable pricing, Mazda’s all-new 2013 CX-5 presents a terrific value for your hard-earned dollar.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD