By on November 16, 2011

As a small, independent, enthusiast-oriented automaker, Mazda is constantly in a fight for its life, and with its profits eaten away by a rising yen, this is more true than ever. And though Mazdas tend to consistently receive critical praise for their handling characteristics, styling has long been something of a sticking point for the brand. Last year Mazda launched a new look, called KODO, which aimed to position the company as “the Japanese Alfa-Romeo.” And though the first KODO car ever shown was a rather stunning sedan (since nicknamed the “Mazda-rati”), its first production KODO design is a rather more prosaic compact crossover, the CX-5. Which, in a way is fitting: if Mazda wants to survive to build Miatas and Speed3s, it will need to sell a grip of compact platform-variants like this one. Not only does this CX-5 look like it should sell better than the aging Escape-rebadge Tribute it replaces, its fuel economy (ranging between 26-33 for FWD/MT and 25/30 with AWD/AT) is finally competitive too. Now, as long as it drives like a Mazda…

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30 Comments on “Mazda CX-5: Mazda’s New Look Hits The Streets...”


  • avatar
    krhodes1

    What? No more cackling clown faces?? This actually looks OK in a generic Japanese sort of way.

  • avatar

    Although I can’t say it looks good–the last Japanese car that looked good was the Honda S2000–it’s not offensive. That’s good. Given Mazda’s ICE approach to boosting gas mileage, and their serious approach to handling, I am fairly likely to get one some time in the next five years (I like my ICE straight, like my bourbon).

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      The S2000? Looked good? The very best argument you could make about the styling of the S2000 was it wasn’t offensive. Unlike the Prelude, the S2000 had a distinct lack of styling, almost to the point of being criminal, considering what a performer it was.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Kind of dull, really. And unsurprising: concepts that have that pillbox on dubs look always come out “meh” when the designers have to consider things like, eg, suspension, ride, cost, passengers, cargo, visibility and/or price.

    Say what you will about prior Mazdas, at least they weren’t generic.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The interior, especially the dash area and instrument panel look classy, unlike the new Escape. The grille could use some trimming at the belt line. Overall I like the way the CX-5 is packaged.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      If by classy you mean plain, then sure. I don’t think it looks bad, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      One day later – the Kodo front grille really needs a redo. Otherwise, the best viewing angle for the Mazda CX-5 may be this one.

      http://tinyurl.com/7cs9nmr

      Yes Nullo, I prefer a gauge cluster that resides in a single classic instrument panel versus individual stylized plastic pods.

      Also, from the one photo I saw, the dedicated climate controls below the center vents have three good size rotating knobs.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Did Mazda hire Chris Bangle? It is a slavish copy of a BMW. Shameless and nauseating!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    That design is not enough. The nose looks like the offspring between a Buick Lacrosse and a Mitsubishi Outlander – why can’t Mazda get the noses of their cars right?

    Nice engine cover.

    That video reminded me of why I disdain car ads – they’re mostly useless.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      The one posted here is a short edited one. Here’s the full version (2 min):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPfZwiaWHvI

      Might be still useless to you, but as a video and art form, it comes across much much better.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Good music, cute girls, and a car that can drive around town.

        I don’t mean to be stuffy here, but anyone can produce an ad like that – and it tells me nothing of value about the car.

        Now here’s a good car ad that speaks to my needs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT5Tw5D3UHk

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree, I’ve found several commercials to be educational and helpful, like this one:

      (dear god, since when does the comment system show videos? My apologies to those whom this annoys).

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I rather liked the Escape/Tribute. At least it was an honest design.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    “…styling has long been something of a sticking point for the brand.” That’s a bit nearsighted and too harsh. I’d argue that the 2006 Mazdas were very attractive and classic designs (3, 6, CX-7, MX-5).

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, 2006 was their best year. The 6 was nip/tucked to perfection (remember those beautiful 18s?), and the 3 was still the best looking small car on the market. It was hard (although not impossible, see the Tribute) to find an ugly Mazda in 2006.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Memories are short. Mazda nearly killed themselves with the Nagare styling from 2007-present. It turned off at least as many potential buyers as their mpg did.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        >>Memories are short.

        Agreed. Pre-Nagare Mazdas were handsome, but somehow, not really noticed by the buying public. Nagare styled Mazdas were polarizing, but for better or worse, they got attention. (I happen to like the Mazda3… they are for serious drivers, not for serious people!)

        So far, the Kodo designed CX-5 Mazda looks neat and inoffensive.

        Mazda is an innovative company and I like that they are pushing the limits of the ICE. I hope they get the recognition they deserve.

  • avatar
    colin42

    Considering all the hype about sky-activ I was hoping for slightly higher mpg

    • 0 avatar
      MZ3AUTOXR

      The mileage figures are close to the top for 4 cyl small CUV’s.

      I’m (initially) pretty impressed with the sky-activ. The 2.0 puts out the same HP and Torque numbers as my 2.3 (cali emissions car) and gets 25% better highway miles.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Recall that SkyActiv (not sure of the capitalization) improves on Mazda’s fuel efficiency. Mazda was already well back of the pack, especially in terms of real-world mileage.

      You cannot expect miracles, not without a significant, disruptive change in technology, which this is not. At best, Sky-whatever was going to make Mazda competitive, and possibly at or near class-leading. It wasn’t going to be a quantum leap.

      (never mind that other EPA queens like the Elantra, Focus and Equinox aren’t meeting their lofty targets in real-world use, either)

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        From initial reports/mumblings, the real-world SkyActiv Mazda mpg numbers are better than the likes of the Elantras & Cruzes. Of course, that’s for the latest Mazda3, so we’ll just have to wait and see on this one.

        But given that Mazda has built their brand image on zoom-zoom & fun-to-drive, simply being strongly competitive on mpg puts them in a good position (assuming they can get people to consider them in the first place).

  • avatar
    carguy

    I must confess that despite the somewhat derivative styling that I like it. My concerns would be that the 2 liter engine can’t deliver enough torque for this size vehicle but then there is always hope for the Sky-D.

  • avatar
    imag

    Even more interesting were the CEO’s comments today:

    - Unflagging support for the rotary, potentially in multiple models
    - Shinari-like car to be introduced next year as a 2013

    Go Mazda. I would love to see (and buy) a Kodo RX7

  • avatar
    MattPete

    There is a place in my heart for Mazda, but based on that styling, they are toast.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    The thing that strikes me is the low power rating – only 155hp? How big is this exactly, is it Escape/CR-V/Rogue sized, or is this more Nissan Juke sized?

    If this is supposed to compete with other compact CUVs I’d say it needs at least another 20hp to avoid being bottom of the pack.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      I looked this up yesterday, and compared to a 2011 CR-V, the CX-5 is within 1″ in length/width/height, has a longer wheelbase, and weighs about 77lbs less. While it’s down 25hp and 11 ft-lbs, the CX-5′s faster to 60 by over a second w/ AWD, and just slightly faster w/ FWD. (Manual should be faster yet, but no manual CR-V to compare it to.) Fuel economy is better in both FWD and AWD, though the 2012 CR-V comes closer to the CX-5′s numbers.

      (Of course this is using Mazda’s estimates, which may differ from final numbers.)

      Subjectively, it *looks* smaller than the CR-V, but I guess that has a lot to do with the shape. I really like the look of it. It may not turn many heads, but that’s not what crossovers are for.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Not bad at all. I’m glad the goofy front end has been fixed. I’ll take one with the Sky-D powertrain since VWoA has no interest in offering a Tiguan TDI. But I imagine it’ll only be the gas engine for now.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Put me in the “meh” column. Looks like an old Tribute with a thin layer of Hyundai painted on.


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