Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mazda CX-5 - An All New Crossover

Photo: Victor Llana (
The 2013 CX-5 is a look at the Mazda of the future. All new, and the first Mazda to carry all of the company's SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, this compact crossover SUV has something else you won't find out there--a manual six-speed transmission. Yes, the folks who have brought you the wonderful little MX-5 Miata for more than two decades let you choose your own gears.

According to Mazda, SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY is not a package or trim level but an all-encompassing philosophy that obtaining more power, more torque and more miles per gallon does not mean sacrificing fuel economy, design or safety. It represents lots of small things the company does to improve efficiency and reduce weight. The Mazda 3 sedan and five-door compact introduced elements of it but the CX-5 is the first Mazda to have the whole deal.

You can decide how much is real and how much is marketing, but Mazda says that CX-5 began with the philosophy of Jinbai ittai, the oneness between car and driver, which is instilled within every Mazda. It also has a new design philosophy--getting away from the "Joker" grin grille and wavy lines as seen on the Mazda 5 mini-minivan and into the new KODO motif. KODO, or "Soul of Motion," is a design language inspired by nature. It was first unveiled in 2010 on the SHINARI concept car, a four-door sports coupe, and then on the MINAGI concept SUV, on which the production CX-5 is based.

As part of that new design language, the car's face carries the new five-point "signature wing" front grille. I noticed that the body itself, as well as the all-new interior, features an interplay of edges and smooth surfaces, and the transition from one to another. BMW started that years ago, but these are subtle--and even compelling. For example, the scallops on the sides of the car seem to emerge from the convex surface and retreat again. The tops of the interior door panels are folded over but over the length of the door fade into a soft curve. I found this over and over, even on the smaller places on the instrument panel and places like the outside mirrors. A lot of thought and planning went into this, and it makes the design feel unified.

Some of this, according to Mazda, is for improved airflow, for example the side fins on the rear spoiler. The .33 coefficient of drag is excellent for a tall crossover vehicle.

The CX-5 uses a 2.0-liter engine that puts out 155 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque, which feels like enough. Like the Miata, it isn't impressive for sheer power but more how it works in sync with the whole driving experience.

Fuel economy is good, at 26 City, 35 Highway (average 29) for the two-wheel-drive model (all-wheel drive is optional). I averaged 30.1 for my test week.

What's really nice is the price. CX-5 Sport models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission start at less than $22,000, including shipping. Add $1,250 for all-wheel drive. That's pretty reasonable, especially for a car that feels so upscale.


Fred Drinkwater said...

$22K? Hell's bells. That's a nice price. I paid about $22k some 7-8 years ago for a used Audi A6 Avant AWD (with 44K miles), and this sounds like it would be an interesting substitute, if perhaps a bit less capacious inside.

Steve Schaefer said...

Hey, Fred. Yeah--not bad. In the Honda CR-V with all bells/whistles now ($30K) and not really better other than the leather seats.