Full 2013 Mazda CX-5 Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is all new.
The 2013 CX-5 isn't the first compact crossover SUV from Mazda, but it might as well be. Mazda's previous attempts at making inroads in the highly competitive segment included the Tribute (a clone of a Ford Escape) and the highly regarded but slow-selling Mazda CX-7. With this all-new, athletically minded and generously equipped compact SUV, Mazda finally gets the recipe right.
Starting with an all-new unibody, Mazda's engineers set out to combine a relatively roomy interior, sharp driving dynamics and a lightweight overall package. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 will be initially offered with one fuel-efficient engine, a sophisticated 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder making 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, putting the CX-5 at the top of its class for efficiency.
Choosing a vehicle in the compact SUV segment can sometimes mean settling for less when it comes to modern amenities. Not so with the CX-5. Even on the base trim, an impressive list of standard equipment will keep budget-minded consumers happy. Moving up the range will naturally net you a more comprehensive roster of equipment, with the top-of-the-line Grand Touring equipped essentially like a luxury model.
In terms of storage and cargo capability, the CX-5 is on par with its competitors. The base model CX-5 Sport has 60/40-split-folding rear seats, but for those who enjoy four-up skiing and snowboarding, the Touring and Grand Touring models feature a special 40/20/40-split-folding rear seat to accommodate long objects in the cargo area. Maximum cargo capacity isn't class-leading, but it's not far off.
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is conventional in concept yet still offers engaging styling and driving dynamics, class-leading fuel efficiency and modern amenities. There are a lot of good choices this year, but we think the CX-5 offers a compelling combination that can't be found elsewhere at this price. Those who are considering the next-generation Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4 will benefit from putting the all-new Mazda CX-5 on their short list.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is offered in one body style and in three trim levels: base Sport, midlevel Touring and top-tier Grand Touring.
Standard equipment for the Sport includes 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack. For the Sport, Mazda offers a Bluetooth Audio package that includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an upgraded sound system, HD radio and a touchscreen electronics device.
The CX-5 Touring benefits from the above equipment plus foglights, rear privacy glass, upgraded cloth and interior trim, a six-way power driver seat, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system. An optional TomTom navigation system can be integrated into the touchscreen interface.
The CX-5 Grand Touring adds 19-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, automatic headlamps, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a premium nine-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio.
The CX-5 Touring offers a Moonroof/Bose package that includes the sunroof and nine-speaker Bose audio. The Technology package includes automatic and adaptive xenon headlights, the TomTom navigation system, automatic wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Finally, the already well-equipped Grand Touring can be ordered with a Technology package of its own that adds keyless ignition/entry, the TomTom navigation system, the adaptive xenon headlamps and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
Power for every 2013 Mazda CX-5 comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel-drive models can be paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is available on all trim levels, but must be paired with the six-speed automatic.
With all-wheel drive, Mazda estimates the CX-5 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, which should be a competitive time for a four-cylinder small crossover. Official EPA figures have yet to be published, but with the manual, Mazda says the CX-5 will yield best-in-class fuel economy with 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway. With all-wheel drive and the automatic, these numbers drop to 25 mpg city/30 mpg highway.
Standard safety features for the CX-5 include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A blind-spot warning system is optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, a CX-5 Grand Touring came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is a bit better than average for the class.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the CX-5 received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cockpit of the CX-5, regardless of trim level, is attractive, modern and functional. It's a mature (some might say demure) design, but at least it isn't swathed in poorly rendered fake wood or highly reflective chrome trim. Soft-touch surfaces are set off with the limited use of satin-finish metallic details, and the black gauges with white lettering are highly legible. The optional navigation system is satisfactory, but many current smartphone navigation/map applications are quicker and more intuitive.
The driving position and front-seat comfort are both quite good. The rear seats are spacious (especially in terms of legroom) for the category and, while a bit flat to sit on, feature an innovative folding mechanism that lowers the seat bottom before folding the seat back on top to provide a near-flat load floor. With all seats occupied, there are 34 cubic feet of luggage space that grows to a competitive 65 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
The way the 2013 Mazda CX-5 drives is a dynamic departure from the compact SUV segment's otherwise typical low standards. The brakes, suspension and steering are uncommonly capable, and in general the CX-5 is downright fun and confidence-inspiriting to drive on a curving road. On the open highway, the CX-5 isn't the quietest choice available, but it still rides comfortably.
While the CX-5's on-paper engine specs won't blow you away, there is a suitable amount of power here for real-world driving. The six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly and is well-matched to the engine. It's also refreshing to report that the six-speed manual transmission available on the front-drive CX-5 is truly rewarding to operate.