Any manufacturer aiming for a new vehicle in the increasingly popular compact SUV segment has their work cut out for them, but the all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5 not only enters the market, it comes in ready to take a big share of it. Competition in this category is fierce, and the difference between brands revolves around what they are willing to give up. However, this newest five-passenger crossover compromises on nothing: it is relatively roomy and enjoyable to drive, offers a comfortable ride and modern amenities at an affordable price. It might not be the most luxurious vehicle and it is not as quick as a racecar, but it is very practical. Thanks to its lightweight design that implements the full SkyActiv Technology, it is also at the top of the class for fuel efficiency. With the 2013 Mazda CX-5, this Japanese automaker finally has figured out what it takes to build a crossover.
New For 2013
The Mazda CX-5 is an all-new model for 2013 that launched in spring 2012.
The engineers and design teams of the Hiroshima-based company said farewell to the Tribute, forgot all about the fuel-guzzling CX-7, and developed something brand new. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is the attractive product of an entirely new engineering philosophy (SkyActive Technology) combined with Mazda’s fresh design theme (called KODO – ""Soul of Motion"").
SkyActive Technology is about more than just technology: it reimagines every component of the vehicle to work together for efficiency, safety, and driving dynamics. Mazda’s now only five-seat crossover is longer than some competitors, but considerably lighter: it has a solid body built on a lightweight chassis to boost fuel economy without sacrificing interior space.
This new Mazda CX-5 comes in three trim levels, Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring, all of them presenting a much more mature exterior design than the previous Mazda models. The happy-face look on the front is gone; a more sophisticated front end lets everyone know it now means business. With the swoopy exterior styling of the entire vehicle, the Japanese are reasonably successful in reaching the KODO aim of expressing movement with forceful vitality and speed.
Interior & Cargo
Inside the 2013 Mazda CX-5, the efficient, utilitarian, and no-compromise design continues. The interior room is plentiful, the front bucket seats are comfortable, and the legroom in the back is satisfactory. For a family with a couple of growing kids, this compact crossover just might be the right option that fits everyone and does not cost fortune to fill up at the gas station.
The base model comes with 60/40-split folding rear seats, while the Touring and Grand Touring trim levels accommodate those needing more versatile cargo room with their 40/20/40-split seat option, for example friends who enjoy skiing and snowboarding. With the seats that easily fold and offer near-flat loading room, the maximum cargo space amounts to an impressive 65.4 cubic feet.
The cockpit looks modern and functional. It does not try to show off with the fake wood of luxury models or overwhelming amount of reflective chrome trim even on the top-tier models, but both the cloth and the leather options seem durable and are designed with careful attention to detail. The controls are in the right places and the black gauges with the white lettering are easy to see even at a quick glance. In line with the overall design aim for this model, the interior of the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is more practical than glitzy, more efficient than upscale.
A substantial amount of available and optional features make this SUV feel more expensive than it is. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and height-adjustable driver seat accommodate drivers of any height. Push-button start, touch-screen navigation, and Bluetooth connectivity are just some of the popular options. A mediocre four-speaker sound system, iPod/USB audio interface is standard on every model, but a Moonroof and Bose Audio package (Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system with AudioPilot and 9 speakers) can upgrade the Touring and come standard on the leather-lined Grand Touring.
A TomTom navigation system is added with the Technology package of both the Touring and the Grand Touring versions, but it is worth noting that some of the newest smartphones are equipped with quicker and more intuitive GPS applications.
Safety is another area where the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is not willing to compromise: in crash testing by the IIHS, this little SUV received the highest possible rating in frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. It is a well-put-together vehicle with plenty of preventive and protective safety features that come standard on all trim levels (front, side and side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, etc.). Blind-spot monitoring and rearview backup camera is standard on the Touring and the Grand Touring.
This new Mazda crossover shows the Mazda designer team’s dedication to driving enjoyment: great chassis dynamics make the CX-5 dynamic and genuinely fun to drive in normal driving situations. Steering is accurate around the corners, and relatively firm suspension gives the feeling of control.
The only engine option for all trim levels is the new SkyActiv, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that provides a modest power output and class-leading fuel economy (25-26/31-35 mpg city/highway). A V-6 option would be nice, because acceleration is merely adequate going uphill and passing, but this new Mazda gets the real-world jobs done. A six-speed, manual transmission is only available on the front-wheel drive base model, but for slick driving conditions, all-wheel drive with automatic transmission is available for all trim levels.
Overall, the new 2013 Mazda CX-5 can be a best buy in the compact SUV category, even for those looking to downsize from a larger vehicle. It offers excellent visibility from the elevated driving position, has a comfortable, reasonably spacious interior loaded with modern amenities, and it is agile enough for a five-passenger vehicle. Combined with great safety features and fuel economy, it should make the short-list for many customers.
Key Competitors For The 2013 Mazda CX-5
- Ford Escape
- Honda CR-V
- Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
- Kia Sportage