By on March 21, 2012

LAGUNA SECA – It’s called the Corkscrew, and for good reason. Perhaps the single most famous piece of racetrack topography in North America, this left-right two-punch combo can unsettle an unsorted chassis just as fast as the steep 18% gradient can unsettle a novice driver’s stomach. Jack Baruth was here in the same car. I’ll try not to embarrass, nor soil myself.

As I enter the throwaway left-hander, I’m mentally muttering under my breath, “Aim for the third tree, the third tree.” Bris-ing the apex of Turn 8, it’s blue sky time, and I’m hard on the throttle, fully committed. Perfect. Both right wheels just kiss the curb with a faint rumble, and it’s through the right-hand sweeper fast and- wait. Too fast.

Rookie move: lift.

It happens fast. Off track. Rotating left. Into the dirt. Sliding. The tire wall rushing closer. I have time for just one thought…

Thank God this is only Forza.

No, I didn’t attend the Laguna Seca launch of Mazda’s latest crossover, for two very good reasons: one, clearly I have no business being on a racetrack; two, neither does the CX-5.

Jack’s track-take on Mazda’s latest cute-ute revealed a trucklet that actually earned the obligatory mention of jinba-ittai. What’s more, dynamic praise from our resident Visigoth is worth its weight in Nomex, because race car driver.

On the other hand, what are the odds of anyone actually driving Mazda’s clean-sheet CUV competitively? I put it to you that the CX-5’s sparkling on-track performance – while it tells the tale of a brilliantly-sorted chassis and typically sharp Mazda steering – is largely irrelevant. What matters is how it does in the real world.

Let’s face it, the previous Mazda attempt at carving out a slice of the red-hot crossover market wasn’t the greatest car in the world. It was just a Tribute.

What’s more, like many of Mazda’s less-stellar offerings over the years, it was a car that couldn’t quite Escape its Ford roots. Why buy the Mazda? Different trim levels. Yawn.

Here though we have a ground-up, complete redesign that makes the statement: “We are Mazda, and we build small, practical, efficient cars that are more fun to drive than the competition because they are lighter and driver-focussed and maybe they might rust a little bit quickly.”

As you can see – wait, did you say something about rust?

“Um. No.”

Hmm. All right then. Could’ve sworn.

Anyway, for those of you not already aware, SKYACTIV is not a vodka-based sports drink, nor a brand of sweat-proof sunscreen. You can find more details here, but the quick version is: high compression engines, weight-savings everywhere through use of high-strength materials and clever engineering; a focus on driving pleasure as a brand-identifying goal, and on CAPS-LOCK as a marketing tool.

The CX-5 is the first full SKYACTIV vehicle from Mazda, incorporating all the elements of the design philosophy. It is also the first Mazda to sport the new Kodo design language, and I think we can all agree that it looks much better than the out-going smiley-faced Nagare.

Why does the front end put me in mind of Angry Birds? Overall though, a conservatively handsome effort that should have broad appeal by being both inoffensive, yet not overly bland.

This GT model boasts 19” alloys that fill out the wheel wheels nicely, but look relatively normal-sized. The standard 17”s look just fine too, if a bit rinky-dink on the rear, but that’s the way the world is going: the 2018 redesign will probably only look right with the box checked on the optional Donk Package.

If you’re test-driving this car with your heavily pregnant wife (let’s not be sexist: or when heavily pregnant yourself) while the used car manager “makes a few calls” on your Mazda3, then you should find the interior of the CX-5 comfortingly familiar.

Piano black trim, sporty three-spoke steering wheel, easy-to-use HVAC controls; it’s conservative and user-friendly, with that Japanese-VW feel that the old 2.3GT Mazda3 had.

Look at all the smudges I put on that touch-screen: talk about your greasy gaijin. However, with Bluetooth, backup camera, blind-spot indicating mirrors and a decent stereo, there’s nothing else to find fault with up here. And just take a look around back.

I’m 5’11” and probably sit a trifle closer to the steering-wheel than most. Still, the rear-seat in the CX-5 is surprisingly roomy. While it’s directly comparable to the Honda CR-V, somehow the exterior of the Mazda looks much smaller in pictures. Only when you start crawling around in it or park it next to a 5-door Impreza do you see how big the CX-5 actually is.

Rear-facing child seats are a cinch to fit and both Touring and Grand Touring models have a 40/20/40 folding rear seat that allows for a four-adults-plus-skis load-out (no factory roof racks are installed).

With all seats folded flat, the CX-5 is again slightly behind the CR-V in total volume, mostly due to the former’s more-sloping rear glass. The load height is also higher, the rear seats fold only mostly flat – albeit with a single touch – and the tall rear headrests necessitate putting the front seats forward for folding clearance.

Still, if this is replacing a ‘3 Sport, or a Matrix, or an Impreza, the increase in size and flexibility of the cargo area is just fine. And then there’s the reason you’re out test-driving the Mazda in the first place.

Pushing the (standard) starter button from cold at winter temperatures elicits the cacophonous racket of a 5hp Evinrude two-stroke outboard jammed in a cutlery drawer. It’s the first hint that the CX-5’s engine is not your run-of-the-mill… er, mill.

With a 13:1 compression ratio giving you a single bragging right over a 458 Italia owner, the 4-2-1 header under the CX-5’s chunky snout efficiently evacuates hot exhaust pulses, allowing MAXIMUM POWAH to be extracted from regular old no-name brand 87 octane gas. Once warmed up, it’s smooth and unclattery but not particularly tuneful.

Or torqueful, and let’s get my single beef with the whole CX-5 driving experience out of the way first. The Skyactiv-G engine is fine. It skews a little towards the “meh” end on the underpowered/overpowered sliding scale – falling short of the “right-powered” sweet-spot of the GLI or, more closely-related, the Miata.

With 3,426 lbs of AWD automatic, the CX-5 adds a bit of forward-planning to my usual death-defying morning escapades on The On-Ramp of Doom. Unlike the CR-V, it actually wants to be revved up. Like the diminutive Mazda2, it can feel a trifle poky.

What really irks is that Mazda also happens to have the Skyactiv-D 2.2L diesel engine, which I have driven. I know, I know, typical enthusiast driver always belly-aching over the lack of a diesel version that there’s no market segment for: why not ask for a manual wagon while you’re at it? However, please believe me when I tell you that a Skyactiv-D equipped CX-5 would be dinosaur-flying-a-jet-plane awesome.

Diesel-powered Mazdaspeed CX-5. Just let that sink in for a minute, and then go say say a few prayers on your rotary beads that we actually get such a thing. Mazda is promising a Skyactiv-D powered something for the 2014 model year, but it’s still a maybe. If you’re listening, Mazda Claus, I promise to be good. ish.

Let’s talk about what we do get with the Skyactiv-G CX-5, because there are two other items on my Zoom-Zoom wish list. First, a “Ds” or similar sport-mode for the very good Skyactiv auto-box.

I’ve already praised Mazda’s new automatic in its Mazda3 application. It’s still good here, although working with an extra 400-odd pounds of heft and only 2 extra lb-ft of twist to help it along. It’s smooth-shifting, direct-feeling and, being conventional, ought to be durable.

Occasionally, however, a bit of a firm prod on the accelerator is required to provoke a downshift. And the manual-shift mode is BMW-backwards (push away to downshift). [EDIT: Controversy!] Please, Mazda, this transmission’s good enough to warrant paddle-shifters. The chassis and steering? Well, that’s good enough to warrant a sport-mode.

And here’s what you already know, but I’m happy to reinforce: even in non-enthusiast, max weight all-wheel-drive-n’-auto spec, the CX-5 is a hoot, a hustler, a corner-carver. It’s a Mazda.

You might not fall for it as quickly as you would a base manual version, or its smaller, more-chuckable bretheren, but the CX-5 is more than willing to go for a gallop. When I drove the Honda CR-V on some very nicely winding roads, it felt aggrieved and alarmed by any spirited driving, spluttering and clucking, “What-where-why are you doing this to meeeeee?”

In contrast, the CX-5 is not only uncomplaining but also even a bit provoking. It is the difference between taking the dog for a walk (more like a drag) and having the dog take you for a walk. There are at least three major roadtrips that I would take this summer, just to find roads good enough for this trucklet to pound around.

In the rain and the traffic and the stop-and-go drudgery of everyday driving, it’s still reasonably good – although the more cut-and-thrust driving you do, the more noticeable that torque vacuum gets. The high-up seating position of a CUV is comfortable and commanding, it’s relatively quiet, and then there’s the fuel economy.

Over the course of three hundred kilometers, I used twenty-seven litres of fuel. Converting from the Canadian (carry the two, divide by moose) one gets 26.1 mpg. Is that an amazing, stop-the-presses, wait-’til-you-hear-this number?

No, but it’s a solidly decent figure that matches the lighter Skyactiv-3 I had, both of which vehicles were driven, um, enthusiastically. Your mileage may literally vary, but it should theoretically be possible to trade up out of a smaller hatchback into a CX-5, with little-to-no fuel penalty.

Much as the Miata is the halo car for Mazda, the CX-5 isn’t really a MX-5 with a luggage rack, as they’d probably like you to believe. Instead, it feels like the old Protege5: a modestly-powered little practical wagon that could still hustle along, snapping at the heels of a WRX on a curvy road, despite having half the horses.

This is a good vehicle, and it does a great job matching the pragmatism of the competition, while at the same time combining it with some much-needed joie de vivre. Would I buy one? Most assuredly.

With the diesel.

Mazda provided the vehicle tested and insurance.

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65 Comments on “Review: 2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring – Off The Beaten Racetrack...”

  • avatar

    Oh gawd, now all I can see is Angry Birds when I look at that grille… you’re killing me man…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Hey, you misspelled – oh.

    Never mind.

  • avatar

    So…the manual isn’t available with the Bluetooth package? The allure of this car is the manual, but if I have to order an autobox to get the options I want…well I’m not sure that this CUV stands out from the pack anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      Even worse, is that fact that if you want the manual, you get a whopping 3 color choices. Black, Grey and Silver. I am so sick of those 3 shades constituting 90% of the cars on the road.

      • 0 avatar

        True. That’s what upsets me…I can get the manual…in silver, blue or gray. But I’d LIKE to get the manual in either the cool blue or red. Mazda says “NO GO!” I have to move up to a higher price point for the pleasure of getting my color and bluetooth. Not happy with that…how much more can red or blue paint be? And I’m willing to pay the extra for Bluetooth but want the manual. Of course, by limiting the availability of manual options, less will be sold…and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of “see…folks don’t WANT manual transmission cars…look how few we sold.” I know the business case does not support manual transmission vehicles here in America, but this is Mazda…come on! It’s supposed to be about the “zoom/zoom!”

      • 0 avatar
        Brendan McAleer

        The Skyactiv auto-box is quite good, but the restrictive content/colour on the manual models is a bit annoying. You get being penalized for buying a manual: c’mon Mazda! You’re supposed to be the enthusiast brand!

      • 0 avatar

        You guys really want to feel the hurt, go to Mazda’s UK site and configure a CX5. Damn, diesel AWD 6-speed manual goodness, with full color palette available. The “3 shades of gray, stripped down” only applies to your home country. >_<

      • 0 avatar

        Full colour palate in Canada. If you call 5 shades between Black and White, plus 2 reds and a blue a palate.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here.

      I was very much more interested in the thing before I realized that Mazda sort-of created a “lowest” model, just for the 6-spd manual.

      The Auto “Sport” starts at $22k and the “Touring”, with standard equipped automatic, is $23k. So, I’m not sure who buys a Sport Automatic. $30 for the next 5 yrs (yeah, okay, disgusting math) says you go for the upgraded seats, stereo, Bluetooth, back-up cam, privacy glass, and all that other stuff every time, since that sort of brings it up to “parity” with competition. Unless you really are that broke, in which case “you’re doing it wrong”.

    • 0 avatar

      I just purchased the CX-5 with manual transmission. This was the base model but I opted for the ‘convenience package’ which includes among others, touch screen audio/phone system and the 17″ alloys. Bluetooth IS included here. To me, the base model with conv. package had everything I needed in the car. Unless you want sunroof, 19″ wheels,or nav, this is the way to go. The manual is awesome to say the least, and after breaking it in a bit, you can really wind it up when you want to and feel some decent torque. Don’t expect a drag racer here, but good drivers can make this car much more than ‘adequate’. Since my purchase, my fuel consumption is at 7.5 l/100km. That translates to 31 mpg for Americans (38 mpg in the UK) Overall, love the car so far.

  • avatar

    CR-V vs. CX-5: “It is the difference between taking the dog for a walk (more like a drag) and having the dog take you for a walk.”

    That one worked well (at least on me).

    This is definitely the Ying to Jack’s Yang (get you minds out of the gutter, please). Another helpful review. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s ‘Yin,’ not ‘Ying.’ Yin I tell you! (I tried to edit my spelling immediately after I posted this, but was blocked out — looks like it could be one of those days).

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    This was an excellent review. Entertaining but still informative.

    Except, maybe, for “…BMW-backwards (push away to downshift).” Surely not! Slowing pitches the driver forward, so it’s viscerally intuitive to push forward for a downshift. Similarly, pull back for an upshift, and the driver is pushed back in the seat as the car accelerates.*

    *Sort of, in the case of an entry crossover.

  • avatar

    Ha, solid review. This thing looks good, though I would probably spring for the 3 instead. I am hoping Mazda makes a higher performance variant of this 2.0- no turbo though.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m looking forward to a 2.5 Skyactiv-G in Mazda’s lineup, provided the Skyactiv-d 2.2 doesn’t show up on our shores. It should have no less than 185 hp if Mazda wants to be taken seriously. I’ll take slightly less in the D (170 or so).

      I can easily see us as a family in the next 3, 5, or this CX-5 (even though we are not really SUV/CUV people), should these engines show themselves on our shores.

  • avatar

    A couple of quibbles:

    The old Tribute and Escape were built on a modified Mazda 626 platform. A very late 1990ies package to be sure, but very Mazda’ish in its pedigree.

    Also, why not a comparison with a Subaru Forester rather than the Impreza?

    Finally, I’m waiting for one of the reviewers to take a modern FWD-based, CUV off the tarmac and put it through its paces on an unpaved, Forest Service road.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven a CUV on a forest service road. I did drive an RX-8 on such roads in the NC mountains last fall. It did well.

      On anything that’s actually a road the primary limitation will be ground clearance.

      I suspect the real challenge is being off a road entirely.

      • 0 avatar

        Just for a clarification – Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management roads are unpaved – but they are occasionally graded to get rid of the ruts that develop over the winter.

        In other words, they are somewhat more improved than a wilderness off-road track. In fact, there is usually room for traffic in two directions.

        Also, to get to these spots in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado – a CUV is lot less tiring and more economical to drive on the highway than a Jeep.

        My Mazda Tribute with two people, plus gear and a late model Toyota RAV4 with three people, plus gear do scrape a little bit in rough spots on these unpaved back roads.

        The Subaru Foresters seem to do fine.

        My concern is did Mazda make a highway only cruiser with the new CX5?

  • avatar

    Mazda. Please put the turbo 2.3 motor from a speed3 in the AWD version with a 6 speed. Would be my wifes next car, though I would have to teach her to drive stick.

  • avatar

    Solid review, very entertaining. I had to read the rest as soon as I saw the Tenacious D reference (“It’s not the greatest car in the world, its just a Tribute”) Way to go on that one if it is your original thought.

    Also spent 5 minutes googling “dinosaur-flying-a-jet-plane awesome” because I knew that had to be some sort of reference.

    I’m a miata owner thinking of maybe purchasing a second, slightly more practical car, and while I am still maybe leaning more toward the Focus or BRZ (I said slightly), I might also consider one of these someday, particularly if they give it the D and sport mode you are suggesting (otherwise I would only go for the unfortunately de-contented manual).

  • avatar


    But what would you feel IF this was ONLY FWD?
    I get confused reading all the reports about pros and cons of AWD. Some say AWD adds to performance.
    In this case is it even needed?
    Would not it be fine as FWD and lose the extra weight?
    I am thinking FWD and standard as a test drive in a few days…IF they have the combo at my local dealer.

    I might wait for the diesel coming this fall…IF it comes.

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      I’m thinking the FWD stick is the enthusiast’s choice. I felt like the Mazda2 works best as a basic car as well, and so does this one. The GT is hardly a gin palace (19″s! With 155hp!), but I’m not sure the AWD is needed: this is a space upgrade for hatch-owners and the FWD will preserve some of the fun factor of the smaller car.

      • 0 avatar

        had sort of an argument/discussion in the car today with my wife and son.
        I asked if she would be OK with a standard with our next car.
        You’d think I asked if I could have a girlfriend!!!!

        I asked (begging?)…even IF it had hill-assist???
        No way.

        I was trying to think….maybe the auto would work if I would use the shift mode on the CX5….but then, if I am going to get the most of this thing I should just get the stick, or not get it at all.
        Just wait for the Escape ecoboost or the Focus ST coming this fall.
        Ford sent an email to me today advising of its coming, so it might be cool fast…and a hatch!!!

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t expect the diesel until next model year.

  • avatar

    Excellent review! Loved the “dinosaur flying a jet plane awesome” line. Because any passenger car with a diesel engine is awesome.

    I really like the looks of the CX-5 and the pricing for the gas model is surprisingly low for what they’re offering. I’ll probably test drive the gas model at some point, but am holding out until the diesel comes. I keep reading that it’ll “likely” be offered in the CX-5, but of course no one knows for sure. But if Mazda does offer the Sky-D option, I’ll probably buy one since my wife’s 2000 Jetta is due for replacement eventually and we want something a little bigger but still with exceptional fuel economy and torque. Since VW can’t seem to make the effort to offer a Tiguan TDI, the CX-5 looks like a great alternative.

  • avatar

    “Let’s face it, the previous Mazda attempt at carving out a slice of the red-hot crossover market wasn’t the greatest car in the world. It was just a Tribute.”

    (Begins slow clap)

  • avatar

    Car aside, that’s a nice review. Like, dog on an old couch nice.

  • avatar

    Excellent review and solidly written. This is proof that CUVs DON’T have to be soul-sucking appliances. Given that we Canadians are partial to the Mazda brand (there are a lot more hatchback Mazda 3s up here than down South), this CUV should do very nicely for the person who looks at a Mazda hatchback and wishes for a bit more space and more ride height. Wish granted.

    Now start wishing for the 2.2 diesel.

  • avatar

    >>>It is also the first Mazda to sport the new Kodo design language, and I think we can all agree that it looks much better than the out-going smiley-faced Nagare.

    It’s still ugly. Just not AS ugly.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the informative, well-written and very humourous review. Sometimes it’s easy to spot the canuck in a review.

    Is the CX-5 replaacing the 5 mini-minivan? Or is this just supplementing the CX line-up? I’m confused. Because I think that the CX-5 will canabalize sales of the 5. There’s less than $1K difference in price in Canada between the base models.

    I just priced out a base model CX-5, and was able to add bluetooth and fog lamps while keeping the manual transmission, and the all-in price comes to $26,013.00 – very tempting.

    And it looks hot in black.

    • 0 avatar

      Unless you’re not from the USA (other countries are reporting that their country sites have much greater option/color flexibility than the US), are using another pricing site (not Mazda USA…Edmunds, maybe?) or unless Mazda changed their website within the last 24 hours, Blutooth is NOT available on the base model with manual transmission.

      Oops…just saw your “Canada” comment about the price differential between the Mazda5 and the CX-5. That would explain it!

    • 0 avatar

      CX-5 replaces the CX-7. The 5 will continue to languish.

  • avatar

    Nice review. I read the whole thing even tho I’m no longer interested in any kind of family hauler.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So what was the “as tested” price on this one?

  • avatar

    coming back from dropping off my daughters Macbook (overheating) for repair and with only 45 minutes for a tennis lesson…I spotted a blue cx5 as in the pictures.
    So I stopped in and asked if I could test drive.
    No problem.
    Took a short pre planned Mazda dealer drive and I must report the following…

    drove really solid.
    Nice all around everything, except low-end grunt.
    Not so sure I can take this every stop light OR the small, irritating slowness when the trans kicks up and you still are in need of power.
    A few times I was still in that hell where the traffic starts, then slows and then speeds up a little and you simply need more power without the trans having to drop down.
    The power wasn’t there.

    All in all, I think it was pretty nice. Just not sure I want this every day in traffic.

    Told the dealer I would be back in a few days ’cause this engine in the 3 hatch might be pretty nice. The great mileage and still enough punch in everyday traffic.

    it was a FWD auto…

    • 0 avatar

      You can’t have fast off the line power with good fuel economy. The sky computer regulates power as you press the gas pedal to reduce torque. Power = gas.
      If it took off fast, it would be a gas guzzler, sorry

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    I wonder, how closely does this cute-ute emulate the driving dynamics of a Mazda 3 or Ford Focus?

    I’ve been considering a new Mazda 3 or Ford Focus hatch, but I must say that the CX-5 seems like it could be an option as well. For about the same price as a Mazda 3i hatch or a Ford Focus SE hatch I can have 30% additional cargo room and a large interior. Since I would like to keep my next vehicle for an extended period of time, the versatility is appealing.

    I know ultimately that I will just have to go test drive for myself, but I don’t like to subject myself to salesmen unless I’m nearing a purchase. So, what’s the word – is the CX-5 near the dynamics of those vehicles, or is the difference night-and-day?

  • avatar

    Possibly the best-written review I have ever read on this site. More from Brendan, please!

    This car hits almost all the sweet spots for me. Reasonable price, available AWD, enough towing capacity to get the ski boat out of the water in the fall and put it back in in the spring, and enough luggage space to get all our crap to the cottage on the weekend. It is just enough car, and not too much – both of which are important.

    The modest hp is the way things *should* be going in this segment. It is enough to do everything this kind of car needs to do. The vehicles one drives in Europe usually have much less power than this, and they all do fine. Not enough torque for stop and go traffic? Seriously?

    The lack of availability of the 6-speed with AWD is about the only disappointment for me – and not a big one at that.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. There’s been a significant ‘inflation of luxury’ when it comes to power in cars. What used to be completely satisfactory now is inadequate because we’ve been spoiled. I have no problem leaving sports car performance to the sports cars.

  • avatar

    Hilarious write up.
    But what’s this about “right powered?”
    I do agree this one doesn’t have enough.

  • avatar

    I just read a review of the diesel version on a local website – they matched your 26mpg with the AWD petrol version, and got 30.5 with the diesel with no freeway/highway driving (city/winding hilly roads only I gather). The diesel has 173hp and 315lb-ft but weighs 200lb more.

    It’s funny that here the CX-7 and indeed all Mazda diesels were/are manual-only & of course plenty of people only drive autos, now that they launch an auto-only diesel people come out of the woodwork wanting the manual. I suppose if they get enough feedback they will bring it in. Incidentally, colours are black, grey, silver, white and two blues and two reds.

    I would look at the base fwd manual version (which has bluetooth), I don’t care about most of the extra toys in the upper model. The diesel costs $11,200 more than the base manual, as it is first available in the mid-spec (+$2,700) with auto (+$2,000) and AWD (+$2,500) meaning the engine itself is $3,000. Mind you, avoiding FWD in the diesel is a good idea I think with 315lb-ft at 2000rpm, and turbodiesels match well with an auto trans that doesn’t drop boost on the gearchanges…

    • 0 avatar
      Brendan McAleer

      The Skyactiv-D is really revvy for a diesel, what with the very light rotating mass (for a diesel). I drove a LHD 6-speed in a ‘6 mule and it was WONDERFUL. Hard to believe it’s got a very similar 0-60 time.

    • 0 avatar

      The Sky-D requires a different transmission than what’s currently in the CX-5 & SkyActiv3, IIRC. I don’t think that transmissions can handle the 300 ft-lb.

  • avatar

    I will never understand the point of these vehicles. Take a perfectly decent wagon and do everything possible to mess up the dynamics for no good reason – raise it up off the ground so your center of gravity is higher messing up both ride and handling, and the vehicle is heavier screwing up performance and fuel economy. This may be the be better than the competition, but to paraphrase His Clarksoness’s quote about the “more comfortable” version of the Koenigsegg super car, “[better] than what? Being stabbed?”

  • avatar

    Great review.

    I picked up a Grand Touring with Tech package a week ago. I normally would never buy a clean-sheet vehicle until at least the next model year, but given the advanced age of my current vehicle (2002 Honda CR-V), the positive reviews, and the smiles the CX-5 elicited while hard cornering during numerous test drives, I was hooked. My old CR-V served me well, and its weight and power numbers are pretty similar to the CX-5. I have found that the CX-5’s acceleration is close to my old CR-V and certainly on par with the new CR-V that I tested.
    I just filled the gas tank for the first time. I travelled 550km on approximately 46 litres ( I suspect that the dealership did not fill the tank completely, as the gauge dropped to 7/8 when I left the dealership lot). The CX-5 display says I averaged 7 litres per 100 km, but my calculations are closer to
    8.5 l/100km. Both numbers are pretty outstanding for pretty much a 60/40 highway/city combined average. My CR-V averaged 490 km on 50 litres. I agree that the manual shift mode seems counterintuitive, a couple of accidental, almost redline downshifts surprised the hell out of me. But once I was used to it, it became second nature.
    Overall, I am very satisfied with this trucklet!

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    Raising the roofline makes it possible to pack more interior space into a vehicle with the same width and length.

    At 179 inches long and 72 inches wide the CX-5 is only 8 inches longer and an inch wider than the Focus hatchbacks I’ve been looking at. It’s only an inch longer than the sedan.

    Yet the interior volume is much larger. There’s more headroom, shoulder room and legroom, particularly in the back – it’s no contest there. Plus the cargo space is much larger. The Focus has 23 cubic feet of room behind the second row vs. the CX-5’s 34, and the Focus has 45 cubic feet behind the first row vs. the CX-5’s 65.

    That’s the point. You end up with a vehicle that’s no more difficult to maneuver in a parking lot but can haul more people and things.

  • avatar
    Been there done that

    Bought my wife a new 2005 Mazda 3i for work,had a few problems with the emission control system and buzzing interior panels but overall I was satisfied with it.Traded it in on a 2010 s hatch after a short test drive and while it’s better handling and has a much stiffer chassis than the 2005 3i I am considering trading it in with less than 22,000 miles,something I’ve never done.The main reason,the A pillars and mirror assembly are so large that they block your passenger side view at intersections, the gas mileage is a bad joke with the 2.5 litre engine and getting in and out of the rear seats is fine for a child but unacceptable for an adult. Drove it down to Disney over the holidays and found it had 300 mile seats unfortunately I had to drive 600 miles a day to get there in 2 days.
    So needless to say I’ve been waiting to test drive the new CX-5 since Mazda announced it.I drove a GT last week and saw that they dropped the mirrors down on the doors,one problem solved.Rear ingress and egress is good another problem solved.Gas mileage should be good with that new engine but the seats didn’t impress me,a little too short for thigh support.
    Guess I’ll have to wait until I can rent one for a week so I don’t get stuck with another car I can’t stand…. I mean sit in for more than 300 miles a clip.

  • avatar

    It looks good and I want to like it. But 2.0 litres plus auto box plus AWD = fail. I’ll have the 269hp Rav-4 Sport AWD instead.

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    I actually test drove a CX-5 today.

    Comments about power seem mis-placed. With the smooth 6-speed at hand, more power is simply a gear shift away. The engine will happily skyrocket towards the rev-limiter the moment you downshift. There are limits, of course, but you won’t find them at legal speeds on Oregon’s 65 MPH highways.

    The steering wheel is small and feels good even without leather wrap. Unfortunately I did not get to really press the car around turns due to traffic on my test drive route, but I did try a few emergency stops. There wasn’t much squat – in fact it felt a little firmer than my current 2006 Ford Focus.

    Interior quality is excellent. It’s a bit bland, yet open and spacious, and once you touch the materials the quality becomes evident. Ergonomics are good. Dials are easy to reach and simple to use.

    Once you start digging around the rear seat and the cargo area you really see why someone would pick this over a C-segment hatch. There’s a lot of room back there. Though not more than others in the segment.

    All of this is underlined by the price. $21,450 with destination for the base sport. After haggling you’re probably looking at $20,000 out the door (Mazdas ain’t exactly flying off lots). For that price you receive all you’d ever need and a few things you don’t. Unless you need Bluetooth. You do have to pay more for that.

    Despite this, I’m not sure the CX-5 is going to be the sales winner that some people are saying. Although the engine feels excellent to me, I’m a 4-cylinder fan boy. Your average person is going to be dismayed by how far over 3000 RPM you have to go to pass on the highway. Oh, sure, it’s fuel efficient. But we all know that Americans don’t give a damn about that unless they can’t afford not to.

    I also think the visually bland interior, lack of infotainment and lack of fold-flat seats with automatically collapsing headrests are going to be frowned on by the masses. And yes, the CX-5 does feel a bit rougher than many competitors. It’s not remotely close to bad, but Berry the beta-male and Sally the soccer-mom will probably notice the difference if the test drive involves a pothole marred avenue.

    Mazda seems to know this. They set a sales goal of 40,000 units, which is peanuts in this market. The CR-V sold slightly more than that in the first two months of 2012. I do think they’ll end up meeting that, and I do think the CX-5 is a great car. It feels like a car that was designed “from scratch.” Everything adds up.

  • avatar

    I wonder why the 6 speed manual has 35mpg highway whilst the auto (6 speed also) only has 32. Usually the difference is minimal (+/-1 mpg) on most vehicles and I would have thought sixth gear is the overdrive gear so under the same highway test conditions the engine would be at the same revs and therefore be comparable in efficiency.

    Any idea why the difference?

  • avatar

    Come to Australia and enjoy the CX5 2.2 litre Diesel……….129KW @4500rpm and 420Nm @2000 rpm (173 hp & 310 lb/ft in your language) with a compression ratio of 14:1 to boot!. Magic bit of gear – throw on some 245/50 R19 rubber and go play.
    You can’t please all the people all the time and there will always be someone with something to whinge about but Mazda have got this one right and the overall package is great. Mine is Storm Blue and I love it.

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