Base Price (MSRP):$20,695.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $27,125.00
View The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Specifications
| Review by: New Car Test Drive
All-new CUV is stylish and fuel efficient.
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 comes in three trim levels: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring. Each offers a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All models come with the same 2.0-liter engine.
CX-5 Sport is available with 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive ($22,095) or 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive ($23,345), and it's the only model that offers a 6-speed manual transmission ($20,695). The CX-5 Sport comes standard with cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with four speakers, USB, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with remote controls, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and locks, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, push-button start, rear spoiler with side fins, 17-inch alloy wheels. The optional Bluetooth Audio Package ($400) adds a 5.8-inch color touch screen monitor, wireless cellphone connectivity, and HD radio.
CX-5 Touring ($23,895) upgrades the cloth upholstery and comes standard with the 5.8-inch color display with rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring system, six-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 40/20/40-split fold-down rear seats, rear-seat armrest with cupholders, illuminated vanity mirrors, Bluetooth, HD radio, fog lights. CX-5 Touring AWD ($25,145) adds all-wheel drive. An optional Technology Package ($1185) includes TomTom-based navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, high-intensity discharge headlights with auto leveling, auto-off and AFS adaptive front-lighting system, auto-dim mirror with HomeLink, burglar alarm. Another package adds a moonroof and Bose Audio Surround Sound with nine speakers ($1130).
CX-5 Grand Touring ($27,045) and Grand Touring AWD ($28,295) upgrade with leather-trimmed upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bose Surround Sound with nine speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio, power moonroof, eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, heated front seats, auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels. The Grand Touring Technology Package ($1325) adds the navigation system, advanced keyless and start, adaptive HID headlights with auto leveling, auto-dim mirror, HomeLink, burglar alarm.
Safety features on all models include advanced dual front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, side air curtains front and rear with rollover protection, anti-lock brakes (ABS), DSC electronic stability control with traction control, and Hill Launch Assist. The CX-5 comes with three-point safety belts for all five positions, with pretensioners and force limiters on front seats, so be sure to wear them. The optional rearview camera can help the driver spot a child behind the vehicle when backing up. A blind-spot monitoring system comes on Touring and Grand Touring models that can help alert the driver to vehicles alongside. Optional all-wheel drive can improve handling stability in slippery conditions.
Like other players in the small utility game, Mazda has moved away from the boxy, small scale SUV look of the original crossovers to flowing lines similar to contemporary sedan styling. The shape and detailing is the first iteration of what Mazda calls its new kodo design language, reflecting the grace and power of animals such as the cheetah and hence a faster, forceful, and more soulful means of transportation, according to the publicity materials.
We confess we have trouble seeing a cheetah in the CX-5's shape, but the sculptured lines and pronounced wheel arches do lend a sense of motion and muscularity, even if the latter quality isn't entirely borne out by the new Mazda's acceleration. The body sculpting is especially noticeable in morning and evening light. The body tapers outward toward the bottom, lending a look of stability.
In addition to sleek good looks, the designers achieved excellent aerodynamic properties, with a drag coefficient of just 0.33, a figure that's better than a number of sedans, as well as top of the charts among vehicles in this class.
Good aero pays off in the fuel economy department, but also contributes to quiet operation. The CX-5 isn't entirely silent at freeway speeds, a little noise finds its way into the cabin via the suspension, but wind noise is essentially absent.
While the CX-5 will overlap with, and ultimately replace, the CX-7, and also offers a choice between front- or all-wheel drive, there is no commonality between the two vehicles.
Mazda points out that part of the Skactiv development focused on crashworthiness, and the company expects the CX-5 to perform well in crash testing.
The Mazda CX-5 has plenty of room for five adults, though the center rear seating position isn't someplace we'd care to occupy for more than an hour or so. Getting in and out is easy.
The front bucket seats are sportier and more supportive than most in this class. The chunky steering wheel feels good. The steering wheel is perfectly centered and tilts and telescopes. CX-5's forward sightlines are better than most. Big mirrors offer a good view rearward.
The center of the dashboard is dominated by a 5.8-inch touch screen, which displays the TomTom-based navigation system. The optional TomTom navigation seemed easier to use than many. The system includes voice recognition and real-time traffic info. The screen sits high on the dash, making it easy to read a glance.
CX-5 offers a substantial menu of telematics and infotainment, including Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, as well as a nine-speaker Bose audio system. HD radio is available. A USB/AUX connector is sequestered in the big center console storage bin, and there are typical small object nooks and cupholders fore and aft. Tap signals are provided for lane changes.
Interior materials are of high quality, with extensive use of soft-touch vinyl and very little hard plastic. Instruments and controls are nicely laid out, well marked, and easily employed, eliminating any real need for orientation at the dealer, computer crashes, or irritating owner's manual searches. It's a simple, straightforward cabin. Cubby storage is decent, with a large glovebox, big cupholders front and rear, rubber-lined door pockets, and arm rest bins.
The back seats are comfortable for two, with enough legroom to cross legs. Getting in and out is easy, with enough room to easily get feet past the B-pillar.
Cargo capacity is 34 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which expands to 65 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks all folded forward, a little less than the CR-V. The rear seats fold nearly flat but not perfectly flat. The rear seatbacks are split 40/20/40 on upper models, 70/30 on Sport, and can be folded forward separately, allowing a lot of flexibility between passengers and long cargoes. A remote release allows the center section to be easily flipped down for skis and such. The tonneau cover stays with the hatch when the hatch is raised.
We've spent time in all the Mazda CX-5 models, from the base model with 6-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive to a top-of-the line version with all-wheel drive and 6-speed automatic. All come with the same 2.0-liter engine.
The CX-5 delivered better-than-expected acceleration (though far from head-snapping). The engine works particularly well for driving briskly along winding roads or cruising on the freeway. The 2.0-liter Skyactive engine uses a 13:1 compression ratio, which Mazda says is the highest in the world for any production engine. A high compression ratio results in high efficiency and high power but is difficult to attain with regular gas without knocking. Mazda has achieved this feat by carefully designing the pistons, high-pressure fuel injection, and a fancy exhaust manifold. The result is a broad torque band that delivers decent performance over a wide range of engine speeds.
The new Skyactiv 6-speed automatic is exceptionally smooth, delivering almost imperceptible up and downshifts as load conditions demand. As a set-and-forget device, slip the shifter into D and simply drive, it's hard to fault. But it is not a piece of equipment that invites engagement from those who view driving as more than just transportation. Although exceptionally compact in size, this is otherwise a conventional automatic. A semi-manual feature allows the driver to shift down by pushing the shift lever forward or upshift by pulling it back. We preferred to put it in D and let it do all the shifting, even when turning laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The automatic downshifted a lot on winding roads with elevation changes due to the lack of power; using the manual feature at times can reduce this.
The manual transmission is a pleasure to operate with crisp shift gates and positive engagements, arguably the best do-it-yourself gearbox in this class. We found the front-wheel-drive model with the manual gearbox to be the quickest. We clocked our fastest time on an autocross circuit with the manual (beating all the other automotive journalists present), in spite of running on a cool, damp circuit with standing water in places.
We think best-in-class also applies to the new electric power rack-and-pinion steering system. A relatively recent development, electric systems are more efficient than conventional hydraulic units, but tend to be deficient in tactile information, better known as road feel. The CX-5 system is very good in this respect, with a quick ratio and excellent path accuracy. Mazda North American Operations explained its engineers worked hard to tune the system for the proper balance between road feel at high speed and assist at parking lot speed. It felt precise, intuitive. Few corrections are needed while driving down a bumpy road. The CX-5 felt more stable than the Honda CR-V.
The suspension design is typical of this class: MacPherson struts at the front, and a multi-link arrangement at the rear to accommodate all-wheel drive hardware. The suspension tuning tends toward sporty, with minimal body roll by the standards for this class, and that, combined with the exceptional steering, gives the CX-5 prompt responses and a sporty feel, a plus for accident avoidance, as well as driving pleasure. Mazda also gets high marks for achieving the foregoing without sacrificing ride quality. The feel is firm but compliant, and could be characterized as European in character. There is some head toss on bumpy roads, however. The CX-5 felt firmly planted and secure when driving down wet, bumpy, curvy back roads at speed.
We didn't sense a big difference between the 17- and 19-inch wheels. In theory, the taller sidewalls that come with 17-inch wheels should yield a more compliant ride while the 19-inch wheels with short-sidewall tires should offer sharper handling. Handling was responsive with the P225/65R17 Yokohama tires on 17-inch wheels, while the P225/55R19 Toyo tires on the 19-inch wheels felt no worse in terms of ride quality.
The all-wheel drive system automatically apportions power front-to-rear depending on traction conditions. In normal driving the power all goes to the front wheels, but this can vary as much as 50 percent. Like almost all compact crossovers, the CX-5's all-wheel drive function is designed to enhance traction in wet or slushy conditions. Although ground clearance is substantial at 8.5 inches, serious off-roading isn't part of its repertoire. We appreciated the grip and sure-footedness of the all-wheel drive while driving through the rain down a winding valley road. The all-wheel-drive versions felt more stable while driving at speed around a wet Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. We recommend springing for all-wheel drive for its improved traction in slippery conditions. If you live in a particularly dry climate, however, you could save a little on the purchase price, get slightly better fuel economy and possibly a somewhat livelier handling feel with front-wheel drive.
The all-new Mazda CX-5 impresses us with its fuel economy, comfort, versatility, road manners, styling, and safety features. And while acceleration is so-so, its agility and exceptionally accurate steering make the CX-5 entertaining to drive. All-wheel drive gives it sure footed traction and is the best choice for the Snow Belt. The sportiest setup, however, is a front-wheel-drive CX-5 Sport with manual gearbox.
Tony Swan reported from Detroit, with Mitch McCullough reporting from Monterey, California.