Mazda has always been known building sporty and slick-handling cars but it took until this year for the brand to produce a true compact crossover vehicle both worthy of the company's reputation, and capable of complementing its existing family offerings. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 breaks new ground in more than one way for the automaker as its appearance in North America also marks the introduction of SkyActiv engine technology, which promises to provide solid fuel mileage without compromising on power. The CX-5's mixture of behind-the-wheel fun and high efficiency is an impressive accomplishment in the crossover segment.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2013 Mazda CX-5.
01. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Is All-New
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a completely fresh face from the Japanese brand and one that attempts to re-introduce excitement into an area of the crossover market that has seen its leaders increase in size and weight over the course of the past decade. The Mazda CX-5 looks more like a tall wagon than a traditional crossover, with shades of premium competitors like the BMW X1 and the Infiniti EX detectable in its haunches, side panels and greenhouse. Embracing a clean slate design also allowed for Mazda engineers to include a responsive chassis under the CX-5's sultry body work, imbuing it with the kind of driving experience that buyers have come to expect from the car company.
02. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Offers SkyActiv Technology
SkyActiv is a new type of engine technology that is standard equipment on the 2013 Mazda CX-5. The CX-5's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder motor has been tuned to provide up to 15 percent more torque than Mazda's previous-generation, same-displacement unit (150 lb-ft). It also offers up 155 horsepower, sent to either the front or all four wheels via optional all-wheel drive by a standard six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is also available). Direct fuel injection, high compression, innovative exhaust manifold design and a unique piston design all contribute to making the CX-5's SkyActiv engine a solid performer.
03. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Provides Excellent Fuel Efficiency
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 2013 Mazda CX-5's SkyActiv engine is its fuel efficiency. The Mazda CX-5 features a fuel mileage rating of 26-mpg in stop and go driving and 35-mpg on the highway when ordered with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive versions of the CX-5 drop those numbers to 25-mpg in city driving and 31-mpg during highway cruising. This places the Mazda crossover at the top of the compact crossover efficiency heap, without resorting to the use of turbochargers or battery-assistance of any kind. It also helps that the vehicle was designed with lightness in mind, as engineers have done their best to avoid adding unnecessary mass to the automobile.
04. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Is Fun To Drive
Make no mistake - the 2013 Mazda CX-5 doesn't come with any of the boring baggage that is so often associated with slipping behind the wheel of a compact crossover vehicle. Steering inputs are interpreted and executed with surprising vigor, the vehicle's suspension system eats up corners with aplomb and the crossover's taller ride height doesn't translate into excessive body roll when the CX-5 is asked to rapidly change direction. A stiff unibody construction ensures that the vehicle's taut suspension won't go to waste trying to corral a wavy shell, and the Mazda's brakes haul the crossover down from triple digit speeds with authority.
05. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Is Practical
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 certainly doesn't skimp when it comes to utility. Despite its small dimensions, the CX-5 offers five-passenger seating along with a second row that is more than capable of accommodating taller occupants without compromising their comfort level. A folding seatback also allows the vehicle's 34 cubic foot cargo area to expand to a healthy 65 cubic feet of total luggage space with a load floor that is also almost completely flat, making it much less of a chore to stuff the CX-5 with gear. For drivers who need to be able to cart around a small trailer from time to time the Mazda crossover also boasts 2,000 lbs of towing capacity.
06. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Comes In Three Trim Levels
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 starts out in base Sport trim, which provides a generous level of equipment. Power windows and door locks, a CD player, keyless entry, 17-inch wheels and an iPod interface for the vehicle's stereo system are some of the CX-5 Sport's highlights. Upgrading to the Touring trim introduces nicer upholstery for the vehicle's seats (as well as power adjustments for the driver), a blind spot monitoring system and exterior upgrades such as tinted windows and fog lights. The top of the line Grand Touring edition of the Mazda CX-5 includes a sunroof, heated mirrors, heated leather seats, a Bose stereo system, 19-inch wheels, dual automatic climate control and a sunroof.
07. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Can Be Customized Via Several Options Packages
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 offers a number of different options packages in order to improve the comfort, convenience and tech level of the compact crossover. The Touring trim can be equipped with a Technology package (adaptive HID headlights, a navigation system and other automated goodies) as well as a Moonroof/Bose package that upgrades to the stereo system found in the Grand Touring trim level and also adds the titular moonroof to the equipment list. The Grand Touring trim itself is also available with the same Technology package. Mazda CX-5 Sport buyers can take advantage of the Bluetooth Audio package, which adds Bluetooth connectivity, a louder sound system and an LCD screen.
08. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Is Safe
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 can boast about its status as an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick for the current model year, a feat which requires posting a score of 'good' in every single crash test category employed by the organization. The CX-5 comes with six airbags (front, front-side and side-curtain units that stretch the entire length of the passenger compartment) as well as dynamic stability control, electronic traction control and an ultra-high tensile steel design. The vehicle is also available with the previously-mentioned blind spot monitoring system.
09. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Is Affordable
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 starts out with an entry-level MSRP of just $20,695. This makes the Mazda CX-5 roughly $2,500 less expensive than the Toyota RAV4 and about $2,000 less than the Honda CR-V. Even at its most expensive (the Grand Touring's $27,045 price tag) the CX-5 comes in well below each of its established competitors, making it a solid value in the compact crossover segment. In fact, in order to get a better deal on a vehicle in its class it would be necessary to shop the Mazda against offerings from Kia and Hyundai - crossovers that don't offer nearly the same level of handling prowess as the base CX-5.
10. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 Competes In A Unique Niche
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is at the forefront of a new class of compact crossovers that aim to keep their drivers in touch with the road by providing stellar steering feedback and a competent suspension system that doesn't float over the pavement but rather turns in an athletic level of performance. While this type of crossover philosophy has already been adopted by high end brands such as BMW, very few affordable small family SUVs can lay claim to the same territory staked out by the Mazda CX-5. Close competitors are hard to dig up, with vehicles like the Nissan Juke and the pricier Volkswagen Tiguan representing the rest of the field.