Used 2013 Mazda CX-5 Review

Edmunds expert review

With its fuel-efficient engine, engaging driving experience and daring styling, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a good pick for those seeking a sporty yet thrifty crossover SUV.




What's new for 2013

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is all new.

Vehicle overview

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.




Trim levels & features

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.



Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.