By on February 1, 2013

Since we’ve been discussing Mazda the past few days, Timothy Cain, TTAC’s favorite indepndent sales analyst, has taken a look at how well the much-loved Mazda CX-5 is doing. 

From Mazda’s point of view, the CX-5 has likely been a roaring success. But Mazda’s point of view doesn’t require success to be measured against other popular vehicles. Other than the 3, Mazda simply does not sell a high-volume product. Even the 3, which accounted for 45% of Mazda sales in the U.S. in 2012, sells once for every two-and-a-half Civics.

To understand the CX-5’s success, you have to understand that Mazda, as a whole, sold fewer vehicles in 2012 than Honda sold Civics. 40,863 fewer, in fact.

So when we say the CX-5 is a roaring success, that’s because it’s not forgettable like the old Escape’s Tribute twin, poorly marketed like the surprisingly fun 5 mini-minivan, or awkwardly sized and priced like the CX-7. Compared with its classmates – Escape, CR-V, Rogue, Forester, for example – the CX-5 has been mostly ignored since it went on sale last February. The CX-5 outsold the Jeep Compass last year, and the Volkswagen Tiguan, and Mitsubishi’s small crossover duo. But even the GMC Terrain sold more than twice as often as the CX-5.

Measuring success on Mazda’s in-house success-ometer, the CX-5 is popular enough to be considered a vital part of the family. With only ten full months on the market, the CX-5 outsold all Mazdas save for the 3, and did so by a hefty margin, beating the soon-to-be-replaced 6 by 9563 units.

The CX-5 accounted for nearly 16% of Mazda USA volume in 2012. Good, right? Unfortunately, “good” at Mazda equals “alright” everywhere else. The CX-5 was America’s 88th-best-selling nameplate last year, behind the Toyota 4Runner, Subaru Legacy, BMW X5, and Fiat 500, to name a few.

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35 Comments on “Sales Snapshot: Mazda CX-5...”

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I’m seeing a lot of them on the road lately, and I have to think that the new 2.5L version will help sales too.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought the CX 5 GT 2.0 last July for my wife. It’s a great car and if you press on the gas pedal it goes fine. I bought a 2014 2.5 GT 2 days ago. This car is the real deal with the 2.5 engine. I have owned many Mazdas and this 2014 has plenty of power. It does have the zoom zoom.

  • avatar

    It might help understanding if this article included the average number of CX-5’s sold per month in the last quarter or so.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah didn’t the CX 5 only start to get sold in the last quarter of 2012???

    • 0 avatar

      This is at least the third time in as many months that a TTAC article has built its primary narrative around a sales number that was massively production-limited without ever mentioning that limitation.

      I’m sorry, but it is poor reporting, pure and simple. It is also the kind of thing that editors on this site would attacking in reports by other publications or analysts.

      • 0 avatar

        Why do you think it’s production-limited?

      • 0 avatar

        Because there have been a number of other articles on the capacity constraints of the CX-5 manufacturing. Mazda basically sold every CX-5 they could build last year.

        So it is dishonest to come up with a narrative saying that the vehicle was “mostly ignored”.

        To your original point, I think that if you look at monthly US sales figures, you would see that those figures:

        a) follow very closely with CX-5s that were actually imported into the US, indicating a product that whose demand exceeds supply
        b) increase in volume with supply. I will bet that end-of-year sales figures would show a much greater sales rate than what is indicated by the annual sales.

      • 0 avatar

        From their press release:
        “Mazda CX-5 achieved second-best month ever [Jan 2013] with 5,244 vehicles sold.” it certainly seems to be trending up.

        The CX-5 consistently had low days-on-lot figures, and at one point, local dealerships didn’t even have any. In Japan, the wait list for the diesels has been months long, yet it accounts for 80% of sales. (They also reported that first month’s sales in Japan were 8x the expect amount.)

        Saying sales have been production-limited is very reasonable.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree you can’t admonish sales of a vehicle with out providing the basis of such (maybe including the past 2 years sales #s and days on lot inventory just to be thorough). And in this instance it is misguided anyway as they can’t sell enough of them (demand outstrips supply and it is not simply “the public is ignoring it”).

        Yes it doesn’t sell anywhere near its larger more established rivals – but that in no way depicts it as doing poorly.

  • avatar

    Go Mazda go!

    Build a good looking product that’s fun to drive and people will buy it. Hell, as proven by the latest 3, you can build an ugly product that’s fun to drive and people will still want it.

  • avatar

    I know my thought process is a little backward, but I enjoy knowing that people still look at my 2007 Mazda 6 and say “What kind of car is that? Its really nice!”. They’re a bit of an anomily… but very obtainable.

    The idea that you drive something that’s a little more “exclusive” is enjoyable. I only see one or two newer Mazda’s per day whereas I see around 10-15 Honda’s on my 56 mile round trip commute.

    • 0 avatar

      Heh, no kidding! I’ve gotten tons of compliments on my Miata. People who don’t know what it is think it’s twice as expensive – to them it looks like a Z4 or an SLK. Works for me!

  • avatar

    The new 2014 CX5 is out with the 2.5L engine from the 6 available. Interetsingly the mpg city goes down only 1, but highway drops 6. So it is 25/32 (FWD). Is the hwy figure (compared to the 6) so poor because of the aerodynamics?

    • 0 avatar

      Its aerodynamics and some other things. Hell if they could have gotten 38 mpg hwy out of this thing with out diesel or hybrid they wouldnt be able to build them fast enough.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that’s automatic vs manual transmission. The stick scores a 36 on the highway. The stick won’t be available on the 2.5L.

      I misunderstood your question; yes, it’s less aerodynamic than the Mazda 6, probably with more frontal area. MPG is still pretty good for a CUV.

  • avatar

    “Compared with its classmates – Escape, CR-V, Rogue, Forester, for example – the CX-5 has been mostly ignored since it went on sale last February”. Disagree 1000% with this whole analysis. Instead of looking at pure sales numbers, lets look at ‘days supply’ and incentives, which are much better indicators of success. The CX-5 is a hit with consumers, with very low inventory levels, quick turn, and minimal incentives.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Days’ supply tells the true picture. When we test drove a CX-5 last year, we were told that they were going for MSRP. No discuonts at all.

    • 0 avatar

      “Instead of looking at pure sales numbers, lets look at ‘days supply’ and incentives, which are much better indicators of success.”

      This is incorrect. Days supply and incentives are a good indication of whether supplies match demand, but they don’t tell you anything about whether demand is high enough to be profitable.

      The problem for a company such as Mazda is that it sells at low volumes, yet it also sells at modest price points. That means that it has fewer sales over which to amortize its fixed costs, yet it doesn’t get extra revenue to make up for the lack of sales. This makes the company inherently uncompetitive, because its competition is managing to secure costs savings and/or product margins that Mazda cannot.

      Margins in the mainstream automaking business are pretty thin. Scale matters, at least to a point, and Mazda doesn’t have it.

    • 0 avatar

      According to TTAC, the CX-5 is a hit. Wait a sec…this is TTAC!!
      So whats the deal TTAC??? which of the 2 stories is full of *it.

      “The new CX-5 SUV is selling so well that Mazda has to expand capacity by 50 percent.
      Mazda has received more than 60,000 orders for the CX-5 in four months, says The Nikkei [sub], and Mazda’s lines can’t keep up with the demand. If one orders a Diesel CX-5 in Japan, the wait is longer than three months. Gasoline models have a one month wait. To keep up, Mazda plans to increase production capacity for the CX-5 to 240,000 units by 2013. Production remains at Mazda’s factory in Hiroshima.

  • avatar

    Very surprised by this, i thought they could not make them fast enough and dealers were hard balling on price as a result? or maybe that’s just up here in the frozen north??

    If i were in the market for something that size (it’s a bit small isn’t it?? I don’t get really small SUV’s but i digress) it’s the lack of a bigger engine and power lift gate option that would bother me but otherwise it looks to stack up on paper.

  • avatar

    I currently drive a 2011 Mazda3 i-touring model and I really have enjoyed it a lot and it is pretty dependable. I think the only complaint is that the suspension is a little rough and your body can feel that on long trips. I am fairly a small person so I don’t have any problems getting in and out of my car and the seat fits fine with me.

    My Dad has more pounds on him and he hates getting in and out my car and trying to put the seat belt on. It was the same way when my parents were test driving the CX-5. My Mom really liked the gas mileage and the looks of the vehicle, but the seats weren’t as big as the competition. My parents ended up with the less fuel efficent and outdated 2012 Toyota Rav4.

  • avatar

    Saw one of these up close for the first time about two hours ago, same color as the photo here. Nice looking car, glad it’s doing well for Mazda.

  • avatar

    Can we get that Matt guy in Sydney to comment on CX5 worldwide sales versus RAV4, Forester etc?

  • avatar

    The real story for Mazda here is: Selling every one they build, increasing production.

    If that was happening with Ford, GM, or Chrysler this would be a story about the runaway success the vehicle was.

  • avatar

    When I return from overseas this summer we’re going to buy a CX-5 for my wife. When I was home on R&R we drove the CR-V EX-L and then a CX-5 Grand Touring. She liked the CR-V; it was what she expected from a Honda. She’s had two Accords in the past and loved them. She’s driving an ‘02 Camry now and isn’t that fond of it. When we drove the CX-5, she LOVED it. She appreciated the tighter handling and the loss of a few HP to the CR-V didn’t bother her at all (won’t be an issue with the 2.5). But what she really liked was how much nicer the interior of the CX-5 was compared to the Honda. The Honda just looks kind of dowdy compared to the Mazda. We’ll be ordering one since we have the time to get exactly what we want vs. buying off the lot.

    • 0 avatar

      I honestly believe Mazda has the potential to be the “new Volkswagen” in terms of interior design/fit-finish (in the manner Bob Lutz gushed about when benchmarking VW from an interior design perspective).

      The CX-5, along with the MX-5, represent two very good examples of this trait.

      I doubt there’s a vehicle in the same class as the MX-5 with a more premium interior feel and better fit & finish at even twice the price. The MX-5 is Porsche worthy. Sit in one with the baseball glove leather trim (I forgot what they call it), study the dash, steering wheel and especially the gauges, and try and objectively deny it’s just about as good as “it” gets,

      Likewise, the CX-5 I sat in and test drove had an interior that was very premium feeling (at least the front was, while the rear seat was noticeably more plebean) given the price point.

      It may not be a technophile’s dream come true, but I find the relative austerity to be a refreshing reprieve from the sea of cheesy silver interior bits (many of which are plastic, and bad ones at that) that competitors use with a total lack of restraint; some of us are more interested in how the steering wheel or stick feels in hand than how responsive or laggy the infotainment touchscreen is.

      I’d love to hear suggestions as to a small CUV that has a better interior than the CX-5 at anywhere near the price.

      (I’d argue the 2013 Ford Escape has a very premium feeling/looking interior, also, but then again, it is significantly more expensive than the CX-5.)

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think most readers here have driven enough CUV to really know. I have only driven the Cadillac SRX and the RAV4. It’s probably better then RAV but worse then the Caddy.

        I find the higher center of gravity in a narrow vehicle unsettling. Not a fan of the segement at all.

      • 0 avatar

        To CelticPete, try a test drive in the CX 5. Has a great suspension and handling. I came from a 2000 Volvo cross country turbo, great handling car and now I love the way my 2013 CX 5 handles and especially the MPG. The 2014 will up the zoom zoom with the 2.5, but for my needs the 2.0 is great.

  • avatar

    I kinda get high powered sporty SUVs. Fun and yet practical but not frugal. I don’t get sporty underpowered SUVs. Your handling is always compromised by the high ride height. It’s not like these things go off-road – so why not let them ride at normal height.

    This things needs a turbo charger and ‘sport suspension’ option so it can be a Mazda 3 wagon.

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