The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Heels on Wheels -2013 Mazda CX-5 Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Mazda CX-5

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

The CX-5 is a new model for Mazda, best described as a more compact and sportier version of the mid-size CX-7 and the three-row CX-9 crossovers, fitting right into the market by focusing primarily on efficiency, interior conveniences and affordability.

I drove a 2013 Mazda CX-5 with the standard 155-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Three trims are available – Sport, Touring and Grand Touring – with my Grand Touring trim offering the following standard features: leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; leather-trimmed upholstery; dual zone climate control; 5.8-inch multi-information display; rearview camera; upgraded Bose audio system; auxiliary input jack and USB port; Bluetooth; HD Radio; eight-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; nineteen-inch wheels; moonroof; fog lamps; and dual stainless steel exhaust. Vehicle price came to $27,045. I also had an optional $1,325 Grand Touring Tech Package that included a navigation system, HID headlamps with auto leveling, an advanced keyless entry system. Total price then came to $28,370.

An all-new vehicle for Mazda, the CX-5 competes with your popular small crossover contenders like the Honda CR-V, the Kia Sportage and newly redesigned Ford Escape. If you’re looking for entry-level rides, try the Acura RDX. But because it blurs the line between utility, hatchback and athletism, it stretches into an emerging segment that includes the zippy VW Tiguan and the unique Nissan Juke.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: If you were curious about downsizing your utility, the CX-5 is tight for a family of four. However, the curvaceous rear door design allows for a fair amount of rear cargo loading space. A remote power liftgate feature – rarely offered on these less expensive crossovers – is a dire need. Interior standards are excellent at the top-of-the-line trim, but with a strangely arranged optional Tech Package. The straightforward center stack features an almost microscopic navigation screen, but with outstanding 3-D graphics thanks to TomTom. Mazda needs to take initiative by streamlining media devices into an in-house system, as found with Hyundai’s BlueLink and Toyota’s Entune, both of which offer better graphics and a stronger connection to the vehicle’s infotainment systems.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The CX-5 earned scores of “Good” in all crash test areas with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the vehicle an overall rating of 4-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, five-passenger three-point safety belts, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, and an advanced airbag system that includes side-impact bags. A Blind Spot Monitoring System is standard only for the Touring and Grand Touring trims.

Cost Issues: The base Sport trim begins at $20,995, which is fair enough. Price reaches a touch of $28k with a fully loaded Grand Touring trim. The 2013 VW Tiguan starts at $22,075 and tops out at over $35k. The 2013 Kia Sportage base trim starts at $19,000 and also stops at $28k. The more elegant 2013 Acura RDX starts at $34,320 and climbs to $40k.

Activity & Performance Ability: The 2-liter four-cylinder – or SKYACTIV technology – does provide excellent fuel economy at 29 miles-per-gallon combined for a small utility vehicle. The ride is full of clean handling and other quick-turn characteristics for instant driver confidence. The downside is limited acceleration response inevitable with small, non-turbo powered motors. Mazda does offer all-wheel drive, or Active Torque Split, to keep this ride versatile for those who drive more challenging road surfaces.

The Green Concern: Fuel economy estimates for the Mazda CX-5 are 26 miles-per-gallon city and 32 highway for a combined 29 – an experiences just a slight 1 mile-per-gallon loss with all-wheel drive. That beats the Honda CR-V – but not its cargo room – that gets just 25 combined under its all-wheel drive system.

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is for those who love the look of bigger utility vehicles but are willing to trade cargo space for sporty performance. Consumers are rewarded with an efficient compact crossover that delivers a combined fuel economy of 29 miles-per-gallon and an affordable base price of $21k.

2012 Katrina Ramser