New Car Reviews

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring – The Little Engine That Could

Mileage to date: 6599

Long-Term Update: Spring 2012 Array Miles to date: 6,599

After being smitten with the clean looks of our Four Seasons 2013 Mazda CX-5, we are finding out that the beauty is more than skin deep. The CX-5 is the second car in Mazda’s U.S. lineup to gain the automaker’s new Skyactiv suite of powertrain engineering, after the 2012 Mazda3. Rather than opting for forced induction and higher final-drive ratios to find efficiency gains without losing performance, Skyactiv works to optimize a known quantity -the internal combustion engine. To up the engine’s efficiency by a claimed 15 percent, Mazda increased the little four-banger’s compression ratio to an incredibly high 13:1, added direct injection and electronically variable valve timing, lengthened piston stroke by 8.1 millimeters, and reduced internal friction.

The 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine is paired with an all-new six-speed automatic transmission in our CX-5 Grand Touring, but a slick six-speed manual is available on the base CX-5 Sport. The only option that our tester is missing is all-wheel drive; but the weight savings may be a boon to the compact crossover, given its modest power rating of just 155 hp.

Senior editor Eric Tingwall used the CX-5 for a weekend getaway, bringing along two mountain bikes — one mounted on the tailgate and one on the roof. “I was genuinely concerned that the additional aerodynamic drag of a bike mounted to the roof might be too much to ask of the CX-5’s humble 2.0-liter. I wasn’t worried about a catastrophic meltdown, but I did have a flashback to the time I mounted six bikes to the roof of my 2003 Mazda Protege5; 70 mph was only possible if you were drafting a semi, and I averaged less than 14 mpg.”

That the 300-pound heavier CX-5 has only 25 more horsepower and an additional 15 pound-feet of torque compared to Tingwall’s 2003 Mazda did not bode well. However, “over 300 miles — most of them at 80 mph — I averaged about 27 mpg, with a bike on the roof.”

He gives partial credit for this achievement to the six-speed automatic. “I had been worried that maintaining 80 mph would result in a constant shuffle between fourth, fifth, and sixth gears. If anything, the CX-5 is slightly reluctant to downshift, as if the car is trying to sweet-talk you into a slower pace.” Associate web editor Ben Timmins echoed those comments. “The transmission initially is reticent to downshift,” he wrote. “But it responds well to a swift kick of the throttle pedal.”

However, not everyone was completely pleased with the CX-5’s powertrain. Managing editor Amy Skogstrom, for one. “Yes, the transmission downshifts on command when you need power and the engine is willing, but it sounds and feels as if it’s laboring a little too hard just to get up to speed.”

Our CX-5 also went in for its first scheduled service appointment at 4955 miles while Timmins had the car, visiting family in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The dealer did a basic oil and filter change, costing us $69.51 — a somewhat high price due to the 0W20 oil specified by the manufacturer.

Despite our growing affection for our 2013 Mazda CX-5, those of us in Ann Arbor said goodbye to it at the end of this month, as the CX-5 will spend the start of the summer with senior editor Joe Lorio in the New York City metro area. Rumor is he’s taking it on an early summer vacation.


  • Body style: 4-door crossover
  • Accommodation: 5-passenger
  • Construction: Unibody construction
  • Base price: (with dest.) $27,840
  • As tested: $29,165


  • Engine: 16-valve DOHC I-4
  • Displacement: 2.0 liters (121.9 cu in)
  • Power: 155 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
  • Transmission type: 6-speed automatic
  • Drive: Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 26/32/29 (city/hwy/combined)


  • Steering: Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock: 2.7 turns
  • Turning circle: 36.7 ft.
  • Suspension, front: Control arm, coil spring
  • Suspension, rear: Control arm, coil spring
  • Brakes f/r: Vented/solid disc
  • Wheels: 19-inch aluminum alloy
  • Tires: Toyo A23
  • Tire size: 225/55VR-19 (99V)


  • Headroom f/r: 39.0/39.0 in
  • Legroom f/r: 41.0/39.3 in
  • Shoulder room f/r: 57.5/55.5 in
  • Wheelbase: 106.3 in
  • Track f/r: 62.4/62.5 in
  • L x W x H: 178.7 x 72.4 x 65.7 in
  • Passenger capacity: 102.3 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity: 34.1/65.4 cu ft
  • Weight: 3272 lb
  • Weight dist. f/r: 58/42%
  • Fuel capacity: 14.8 gal
  • Est. fuel range: 429 miles
  • Fuel grade: 87 octane (regular unleaded)


  • standard equipment

    • 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 engine
    • 6-speed automatic transmission
    • 19-inch aluminum wheels
    • Rear window defogger
    • Rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers
    • Intermittent rear wiper
    • Automatic halogen headlights
    • Rear spoiler
    • Fog lights
    • Power sunroof
    • Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
    • Cruise control
    • Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity
    • Leather-trimmed seats
    • Carpet floor mats
    • Automatic dual-zone climate control
    • Keyless entry
    • 40/20/40-split folding rear seats
    • 5.8-inch color display w/rearview camera
    • 9-speaker Bose audio system
    • Auxiliary audio jack
    • USB port
    • 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat w/power lumbar support
    • Front and rear center armrests
    • Heated front seats
    • Stability and traction control
    • Hill-start assist


  • Grand Touring Technology package
  • $1,325
  • Navigation
  • Auto-leveling HID headlights
  • Adaptive front lighting
  • Security system
  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • Auto-dimming mirror w/Homelink