Earlier this year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Traffic Safety named the 2013 Mazda CX-5 a Top Safety Pick. Associate Web editor Evan McCausland unluckily put this claim to the test in mid-November when he struck a deer. His story follows:
We accidentally test the CX-5's safety credentials.
"Irony, thy name is CX-5. I realized the other week that it'd been months since I spent any time behind the wheel of our little Mazda CUV. Two days later, I managed to render the CX-5 into a condition that will ensure none of us will have any time behind the wheel for a while.
My wife and I had a dinner planned with friends in Ann Arbor, and she opted to drive into town to meet me at the office. We left her car here, although it meant we'd have to convoy two cars home after dinner. After our evening, we left the office around 10:45 p.m. I led the way home, taking the familiar route I use each day.
I reached the off-ramp to the M-36 from the US-23 freeway at about 11:30 pm and wound my way around the cloverleaf exit at posted speeds. (Well, my wife was following me, you know?) I merged into the through-traffic lane of the boulevard with no problem. I'd just passed under the 23-South overpass when a deer darted from behind the embankment directly into my path.
I stabbed the brake and that's about all I had time to do. I heard a thump, but the next thing I recall is wondering why I couldn't see the deer anymore. It wasn't that I'd decimated the doe, but instead the airbag had inflated in my face and the equally pyrotechnic seatbelt pre-tensioner had snugged down my seatbelt. After years of seeing airbag deployment demos at various car-makers, I'd thought such a thing would be calamitous, but instead I was surprised at how low-key it was. Just a "poof," and the interior grew hazy from the powdery airbag "smoke." There was no deer to be found; my wife says the damn thing shook off the impact and ran into the woods.
Sadly the Mazda didn't shrug off the impact with the same equanimity. The brunt of the hit came to the driver-side front fender, which made exiting the car a little difficult. I grabbed some debris off the road and drove the Mazda into a park-n-ride lot across the street. I had no means of examining the car in the darkness, so I couldn't tell if any fluids were leaking and didn't feel comfortable driving the car further. The police showed up to file a report around midnight, and my wife drove us home in her vehicle shortly after.
I got to inspect the full extent of the damage the next morning. The hood had been folded fairly severely and the driver-side headlamp lens had been skinned (the whole lamp was removed upon its arrival home), and it all seemed like complete, utter carnage. Actually the end result looks far worse than I would have expected from experiencing the impact, since I walked away unscathed, although my shoulder was a little sore from the seatbelt reeling me in."
About a week later, a flatbed tow truck took our 2013 Mazda CX-5 to be repaired. Once we get Mazda's little compact utility vehicle back in our hands, we'll report on the cost of the repairs. Initial estimates range from $5000 to $9000.