2013 Mazda CX-5

Sport FWD 4-Dr Sport Utility I4 man trans

2013 mazda cx-5 Reviews and News

2013 Ford Escape Vs 2012 Honda CR V Vs 2013 Mazda CX 5 Group Left Side View
Goldilocks wants a new compact crossover. As circumstances would have it, she's in luck. She's interested in a segment chock full of nice vehicles from just about every carmaker you can think of -- from Kia to Range Rover and every manufacturer in between.
In the high-volume part of the compact SUV group, there are two numbers winners, the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape, which tend to duke it out for the top sales spot. Goldilocks wants a mainstream, well-equipped vehicle that comes standard without sticker shock, so she'll be looking at both of these vehicles. As a bonus, they're both new: a redesigned CR-V debuted a few months ago, and a brand new Ford Escape will be hitting showrooms shortly.
There's a third new player on the field, too: the Mazda CX-5. Not only is it new this year, it replaces the Tribute, which used to be a rebadged Escape. We gathered all three vehicles for a day of driving and realized that while their recipes are almost identical, the end result is three very distinct flavors. Which one will Goldilocks like best? Well, it depends on what kind of porridge she prefers.

2012 Honda CR-V AWD EX-L NAV

Honda has a long reputation for getting stuff right, and while some of the company's other products have missed the mark lately, the CR-V is chugging along nicely. This is the vehicle that virtually defines its class -- and, indeed, the two competitors we rounded up are near clones of the Honda: all three measure within 0.6 inch in length, 0.6 inch in width, and 0.8 inch in height. They come exclusively with four-cylinder engines and all offer the choice between front or all-wheel drive. The "Cute Ute" has been boiled down to a formula (we'll call it Goldilocks Porridge Reduction) and you could certainly argue that Honda's CR-V has, historically, had the winning recipe.
There's nothing particularly high-style about the CR-V -- on the outside, it's anything but sexy, with a bizarre front end, a minivan profile, and small (in this company) seventeen-inch wheels with tall sidewalls. Inside, it's a similar story, with gathered leather seats that look like they're from a 1990s Acura. Even our fully loaded tester doesn't come with keyless-go, so you'll have to put a metal key into the ignition switch. It does have a navigation system, although its monochrome graphics seem to have been inspired by an Atari 2600. There's another LCD screen, too, which is slightly better -- think original Nintendo -- but it's too small, too far away, and displays occasionally redundant information in a font and color scheme that doesn't match the nav screen's.
Sounds like a bitter bowl of porridge, doesn't it? Well, it's not. The CR-V might not win on presentation, but if you have an appetite for utility, the Honda wins the taste test by a mile. The minivan looks mean minivan usability: there are enormous storage bins everywhere, for example. The high console-mounted shifter feels just right in your hand, and the seats are comfortable. Best of all, the rear seats fold flat in the most breathtakingly simple mechanical origami this side of an Alton Brown cooking contraption -- no motors are involved, just a gentle tug on one of the two handles mounted cleverly (and accessibly) by the rear hatch. In one motion, the seat bottoms flip up and forward, then the seatbacks flop down. The CR-V might be the same size as these other two vehicles, but no one told its interior -- cargo room dwarfs the other two vehicles with the seats up or down. And the liftover height is impossibly low.
Should Goldilocks fancy herself a racecar driver, she'll be excited by the highest redline here. Honda's 2.4-liter straight-four is torquey and chock full of personality, and it makes its 185-hp power peak right at its lofty 7000-rpm redline. Unfortunately, it's mated to a five-speed automatic that's geared for fuel economy, not performance. Red light! Green Light! ...No! No wheelspin (thanks to an electronic AWD system that preemptively sends power rearward), but also not so much in the way of acceleration. The wait to get through first gear is a long one -- you'll be nearing freeway speeds before you feel the first shift. And second gear is virtually identical to the Mazda's third: it's good for a rather shocking 83 mph. Acceleration isn't painful, but it's never exhilarating, either.
The CR-V's electric power steering is far too overboosted to let road feel through to the wheel, and its ratio (16.7:1) is, by a wide margin, the slowest of the group. Its ride is slightly busy over broken pavement and the suspension can get a bit loose over big bumps. The Honda's ground clearance trails the other two vehicles by a wide margin (6.7 inches for AWD models versus 7.9 for the Ford and 8.5 for the Mazda), which might make it less capable in deep snow.
Not much about the CR-V will excite Goldilocks' inner Danica Patrick, but when it comes to an extremely usable, dependable, and very well put-together compact crossover, this porridge's lack of spice means it'll appeal to many and offend very few.

The Specs

PRICE: $30,605/$30,605 (base/as tested)
ENGINE: 2.4L I-4, 185 hp, 163 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic
EPA MILEAGE: 22/30 mpg

2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

A Ford-loving Goldilocks is in trouble if she's indecisive, because unlike the other cars here, which are available with one single engine offering, the Escape comes with your choice of three. Base models are equipped with a 2.5-liter, 168-hp four. Next up is an EcoBoost (turbocharged, direct-injection) 1.6-liter that makes 178 hp. And leadfooteded Goldilocks can have an EcoBoost 2.0-liter that makes 240 hp.
Call us GoldiLeadfoots, because we tested the top-of-the-line Escape with every bell, whistle, and Bear Detection System. Well, not the last bit, but the Escape is, in this group, a rolling techno showcase. It came equipped with keyless-go, blind-spot monitoring with cross traffic alert (meaning it'll let you know if you're about to get sideswiped while backing out of a parking spot), automatic HID projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, active park assist (meaning it'll park itself), a power rear liftgate with Hokey-Pokey control (meaning it'll open or close electrically if you wave your foot under the rear bumper), a full-length panorama glass roof, and, of course, the MyFordTouch infotainment system -- which includes SYNC voice-activated commands, navigation system, a killer Sony sound system, and a touchscreen to control it all. It has four auto-up and -down power windows -- the other cars have it only on the driver's porthole.
There's no reason for Goldilocks to even sample the other cars' seats -- Ford's Sport Seats are "wow!" comfortable, and they're trimmed in leather and, like the others, heated. The Escape's cabin is full of angles and edges, including the rim of the steering wheel, which is uncomfortable to hold as a result. But the turquoise needles on the gauges are a cool touch -- and the high-resolution, colorful, and customizable LCD screen between the gauges trumps all.
Although MyFordTouch has been substantially revised (the previous one was, to use a word, dreadful), its clear, colorful, and very high-resolution touchscreen interface highlights exactly what's wrong with using a touchscreen: the virtual buttons appear on a flat, featureless screen, so Goldilocks will be taking her eyes off the road for a very long time to use them. Good luck if she hits a bump while trying to press a button -- the little graphical boxes that make up the buttons are so small that she could easily hit the wrong function three buttons over.
We didn't spend enough time in the Escape to test all of MyFordTouch's features (though unlike in older versions, we experienced no sudden reboots or failures), but some features didn't work properly. For example, if Ms. Goldilocks uses her iPhone for music, she's best off plugging it in via the USB adapter. This not only charges the phone, but allows her to use the touchscreen (or SYNC voice-activated controls) to find the music that's not too hard rock or too classical, but Top 40 Just Right. Except that if her iPhone is also paired to the system via Bluetooth, she’ll have to consult the owner’s manual to figure out how to listen to music via the USB adapter – either that, or she can to switch to Bluetooth streaming (which eliminates the possibility of browsing the music collection by voice or touchscreen). Either way, she’ll be confused. Sound confusing? It's more than confusing, it'd infuriate even Papa Bear from a relaxed hibernation.
Once the music does come on, though, the sound quality is superb and well beyond what you'd expect at this price point. Clearly, with all the gadgets and gizmos (and the powerful subwoofer), Ford is playing to a younger Goldilocks than Honda is.
And then you hit the gas. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost is a rocket compared with the other crossovers here. Its turbocharged torque curve is as flat as the surface of overcooked porridge, and instantaneous thrust is available whenever you want it. Turbo lag is, of course, present, but a loose torque converter masks it almost completely in normal driving. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly and quickly, and if you sprain your wrist just right, you can call up a pseudo-manual mode with an ill-placed rocker switch on the side of the shifter. Still, the ability to call up individual gears might help when towing -- and when equipped properly, the Escape can tow up to 3500 lb (far in excess of the Honda CR-V's 1500 lb and the Mazda CX-5's 2000 lb).
The weight of the big nineteen-inch wheels seems to stress the Ford's chassis rigidity (no doubt weakened by the enormous panoramic roof), inducing some cabin rattles over broken pavement. The suspension tuning seems oversprung and underdamped, leading to a bouncy ride on back roads, but the bump stops were left fully unmolested over the biggest of impacts. Ford's stability control programming is excellent, never intruding unless necessary, and then slowing the vehicle only as much as required. Like the Honda, the Escape's AWD system uses a computer-controlled clutch that predicts wheel spin before it happens, so even with all its prodigious power, the Escape won't squeal a tire on dry pavement.
The Escape's electric power steering is quick and responsive, though rubber-bandy in its effort. It has the widest turning circle of the group -- and the narrowest interior. Not only does the Ford trail its other rivals in shoulder room front and rear, but the sloped center stack intrudes noticeably into the driver's footwell. As a result, Goldilocks' right leg will remain in constant contact with hard plastic, fighting to get her leg far enough to the right to reach the offset and partially obscured gas pedal.
The Escape is the only car here that can't fold its rear seats using a lever at the back of the car, but at least the process is supremely easy to do from the rear doors: one lever flips each of the seats over almost completely flat. Despite the smallest overall interior of the group, the Escape's cargo-carrying ability is smack in the middle. The rear seats can be reclined (like the Honda's), making the back of the Escape a very comfortable place to be.
In fact, overall, the Escape is a very nice vehicle to spend time in. We think Goldilocks will like it -- if she's young and in love with high-tech toys. But if all the fairy tales are right, she'll likely love the crossover that's not too minivan-like and not too high-tech toyish. There's a third bowl of porridge that is, to borrow a phrase, just right.

The Specs

PRICE: $32,945/$36,130 (base/as tested)
ENGINES: 2.0L Turbo I-4, 240 hp, 270 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
EPA MILEAGE: 21/28 mpg

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD

At $29,165, our Mazda CX-5 was the least expensive vehicle in our trio -- but it lacked four-wheel drive and produced the least horsepower. While we're on the subject of frugality, it also boasts the best EPA fuel economy ratings, and in our rigorous testing (we drove like animals) used by far the least fuel. In fact, it beat the Ford by 30 percent and the Honda by fifteen.
If the defining feature of the CR-V is usability and the Ford's is high-tech, the Mazda CX-5's calling card is gimmick-free elegance. There's a richness to the vehicle that goes beyond the others -- in its exterior styling as well as its cabin. The red-stitched black leather looks and smells more expensive than the hides in the other cars; the no-frills dashboard trades overwrought styling features for simple functionality, and the Mazda's driving dynamics are, simply put, a whole class ahead of its rivals.
The CX-5's steering feels like its rack came straight off the shelf of the Porsche engineering center. It's accurate, well-weighted, and highly communicative. Will Goldilocks care about steering? Does a bear cook in the woods? Absolutely! The typical crossover buyer may not speak in terms of on-center steering feel and load buildup, but all drivers know good steering when they feel it: Goldilocks will get in this car and instantly feel like she's connected with the wheels and in control of her vehicle.
And when the bears come running after her, the CX-5 will make the quickest getaway. It may be down 85 hp from the Ford and 30 hp on the Honda, but the Mazda's body weighs some 300 lb less than the Ford and about 100 lb less than the Honda when comparably equipped. With short, closely spaced gearing and a transmission that loves to play ball, the Mazda doesn't suffer much from its lack of power -- and the well-weighted leather shift knob can be thrown into a fully manual gate that uses the racing layout (forward for downshifts, rearward for upshifts).
The CX-5 leisurely rounds bends at speeds that would have the CR-V's tires screaming loud enough to scare off any attacking furry mammal, and it demonstrates class-leading body control over potholes, frost heaves, and speed humps. The front suspension will bottom out over big bumps that the Ford takes in stride, but the rest of the Mazda's driving experience is flawless. And its ride is quieter and more supple than the others'.
In terms of usability and technology, the CX-5 again falls right in the sweet spot. Its cargo room is the smallest of the bunch, but its cabin is biggest overall, meaning it has the most space for people. The rear seat is split 40/20/40, and it can be folded forward in any combination by way of very clever handles near the rear hatch. The resulting load floor isn't, however, perfectly flat.
The CX-5 features some of the Ford's high-tech goodies without feeling overly gimmicky. Like the Escape, our Mazda was equipped with blind-spot monitoring -- which isn't available on the Honda, which needs it the most thanks to thick D-pillars that obscure rearward visibility. All three cars had reverse cameras, though the Mazda's screen is quite small. The CX-5's optional swiveling HID headlamps make for great visibility on curvy roads at night, and we suspect its Bose stereo is good enough to keep passengers entertained on long journeys over the hills and through the woods -- whether to Grandmother's house or to a rave.
Getting lost shouldn't be a problem since Mazda's navigation system was designed by TomTom, and while the screen is by far the smallest of the three, its graphical buttons are the largest and easiest to operate. The steering wheel controls and gauges are simple, straightforward, and highly legible -- and like the other cars, the CX-5's dual-zone climate control is easy to use, and it spit out the coldest air-conditioned air of the group.
The interesting thing about children's stories is how well they apply to our adult lives. Sure, you can have your porridge any way you like it. The Honda CR-V is like oatmeal -- not very flavorful, but packed with benefits. The Ford Escape is a warm bowl of peppered grits packed with lots of spice and flavor -- though perhaps too much for some. And then the Mazda CX-5 is a delicate polenta -- it's the same basic idea, but somehow this porridge comes across as more substantial, more expensive, and more elegant. Or as Goldilocks might say, it's just right.

The Specs

PRICE: $27,840/$29,165 (base/as tested)
ENGINE: 2.0L I-4, 155 hp, 150 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
EPA MILEAGE: 26/32 mpg
2013 Mazda CX 5 Front Left Side View
There are lots of compact crossovers -- and more all the time -- but there aren't many that are any fun to drive. At the same time, this popular category of vehicles also is not the place to turn if you're looking for good fuel economy -- when it comes to gas mileage, traditional mid-size sedans leave even the smallest SUVs in the dust.
The all-new CX-5 from Mazda attempts to address both those issues. It scores a solid hit with one but achieves only a near-success with the other.

A Mileage Champ

The CX-5 is powered by Mazda's new Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which made its debut recently in the Mazda3. This engine is highly efficient, and in the CX-5 it delivers terrific gas mileage. With four-wheel drive, the EPA figures are 25/31 mpg (city/highway); that puts the CX-5 at the very top of the heap for AWD crossovers, besting even tiny 'utes like the Nissan Juke and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Naturally, the front-wheel-drive CX-5 does even better, at 26/32 mpg with the automatic transmission and 26/35 mpg with the six-speed manual. With that kind of mileage, we hardly mind the fact that the aural quality of the direct-injected engine leaves something to be desired -- a typical downside to this technology.

What About the Fun?

Slip behind the wheel of the CX-5, and you'll find that the driving position is very sports-sedan-like. The relationship between the driver, the windshield, the steering wheel, and the dead pedal reminded me of a BMW 3-series -- sounds ridiculous, but it's true.
2013 Mazda CX 5 Front Left Side View
I love the tight, precise steering, which is so much better than the crossover norm. What's all the more amazing is that this is an electrically assisted system -- which only proves that electric power assist is no excuse for lifeless, overboosted steering.
I also liked the firm chassis; body roll is notably absent, yet ride quality is not bad.
The CX-5 would walk away with the award for best-driving compact crossover, except for the fact that 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque are marginal for a four-wheel-drive crossover, even one as commendably svelte as this Mazda (3426 pounds). Off-the-line acceleration is adequate -- just. The bigger issue is that the six-speed box pretends not to hear the driver's calls for more speed. And when you encounter any upgrade, the automatic transmission is also loathe to give up on the higher gear until you've lost considerable momentum or have given the throttle a shove. There are no shift paddles, but the driver can take things into his own hands via a shift gate that enables manual up- and down-shfits -- although it follows BMW's strange logic of push-up-for-downshift and pull-back-for-upshift.
One possibly fix would be to get the available manual transmission (yes, there is one). Unfortunately, it can only be had with front-wheel drive, on the base trim level. So no leather, heated seats, moonroof, or backup camera. Here, then, is another example of a manufacturer offering a manual, then packaging it so as to virtually assure that no one buys it. One might have hoped for better from Mazda.

Out of the Box

Whereas the boxy Tribute was a style-free zone, the CX-5 exterior is all sinewy and handsome. A glance behind the rear seats, however, reveals the price you pay for those good looks. The tiny quarter windows afford little visibility, and the sloping roofline cuts into the cargo space.
When it comes to passenger space, however, we have no complaints. The rear seats are plenty roomy, and the both the front and rear perches are comfortable. The well-padded door armrests are a nice touch and the cabin is classed up with a smattering of shiny black trim and matte-finish metal. The switchgear is better laid out than most, although the (built-in) TomTom navigation unit is pretty rudimentary.

Covering Two Bases

The Tribute is on its way out and Mazda recently announced that it's also dropping the slightly larger CX-7, so the CX-5 effectively replaces both vehicles. Although the CX-7 was bigger outside, it didn't really have any more room inside, so this is a pretty logical move. (The three-row CX-9 remains as Mazda's medium-large SUV entry.)
2013 Mazda CX 5 Front Left View 2
The CX-5 is a very strong entry in a crowded field. Its gas mileage is exceptional, and it's quite rewarding to drive. But it would be even more so with a bit more power -- or, possibly, just with a reprogrammed automatic transmission. A vehicle with a chassis this good deserves a livelier powertrain, even at a cost of 1 or 2 mpg.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

Base price: $29,090
Price as tested: $30,415
Standard Equipment:
6-speed automatic transmission
Active torque-split AWD system
Power windows, door locks, mirrors
Push-button start
Tilt-and-telescoping steering column
Dual-zone automatic climate control
AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system w/aux and USB inputs, satellite radio, and Bose Surround Sound
Bluetooth phone/audio
Fog lamps
Privacy glass
8-way power driver's seat
Backup camera
Leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio controls
Blind-spot monitoring system
19-inch alloy wheels
Automatic headlights
Heated outside mirrors
Heated front seats
Leather-trimmed seats
Power moonroof
Rain-sensing wipers
Options on this vehicle:
Technology Package $1325
- In-dash TomTom navigation system
- bi-xenon auto-leveling headlamps w/pivoting adaptive front lighting system
- auto-dimming rearview mirror w/Homelink
- anti-theft alarm
- Mazda advanced keyless entry
Key options not on this vehicle:
Fuel economy:
25 / 31 mpg
2.0L DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 155 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
6-speed automatic
Curb weight: 3426 lb
7 x 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
225/55 R19 Toyo A23
Chevrolet Equinox
Ford Escape
Honda CR-V
Hyundai Tucson
Kia Sportage
Mitsubishi Outlander
Nissan Rogue
Toyota RAV4
2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5

New For 2013

The Mazda CX-5 is an all-new model for 2013 that launched in spring 2012.


It may be an efficiency-minded crossover, but the Mazda CX-5 still demonstrates the dedication to driving enjoyment that pervades the entire Mazda lineup. The new model replaces the Ford Escape–based Tribute and the fuel-guzzling CX-7 as the company’s only five-seat crossover. Interior room is plentiful, and the elevated driving position provides excellent visibility. The swoopy exterior styling is backed up by great chassis dynamics that make the CX-5 genuinely fun to drive. The steering is accurate, the controls are all in the right places, and a relatively firm suspension helps the driver feel in control. The Skyactiv four-cylinder engine provides class-leading fuel economy, but the focus on efficiency and the modest power output of 155 hp from the only engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, mean the CX-5’s acceleration is merely adequate. A six-speed manual is offered on the base model, so most CX-5s will be equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission that prioritizes saving fuel over going quickly. There’s a long list of options for the Mazda crossover, including safety gear like blind-spot monitoring and a backup camera, push-button start, touch-screen navigation, and Bluetooth connectivity. The Mazda CX-5 is not only better than the Tribute and the CX-7 it replaces but has also become one of our favorite entries in the crossover segment.


Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS with brake assist; traction and stability control; hill-start assist; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. A blind-spot monitoring system is optional.

You'll like:

  • Fun to drive
  • Great fuel economy
  • Attractive styling

You won't like:

  • Not very fast
  • Reluctant transmission

Key Competitors For The 2013 Mazda CX-5

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Kia Sportage
2013 Mazda CX 5 Grand Touring Front Left View
Poor Mazda. The Japanese carmaker tried for more than two decades to sell Americans a small utility vehicle, but no one cared. Remember the Navajo, a rebadged Ford Explorer two-door that debuted for 1991? Neither do we. Mazda followed up with the Tribute, another rebadged Ford. Like the Escape it shared almost every part with, the Tribute was a fine vehicle in its day, but Ford's marketing machine made sure its version always far outsold Mazda's. Then came the CX-7. Sure, it was sleek, but it couldn't decide if it was a compact crossover or a mid-size crossover. Consumers were clear on one thing, though: they didn't want it. Actually, they didn't even know it existed. So Mazda watched enviously as the small-crossover segment grew, dominated by the Escape and the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. Then, for 2013, Mazda brought out the CX-5, and the skies cleared.

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2013 Mazda CX-5 Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.0L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
26 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
35 MPG
155 hp @ 6000rpm
150 ft lb of torque @ 4000rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
36,000 miles / 36 months
60,000 miles / 60 months
Unlimited miles / 60 months
36,000 miles / 36 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
NHTSA Rating Front Side
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
NHTSA Rating Overall
NHTSA Rating Rollover
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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