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CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5


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CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5
CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5
While the Crossover continues to improve, none have quite matched the CX-5's ability to save at the pump.
Published by xcel
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CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Quite simply the most affordable and highest fuel economy compact crossover available in all of North America.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - May 10, 2012

2013 Mazda CX-5 – $20,695 to start and rated at 26/35 mpgUS city/highway.

Mazda bet the bank on a core group of technologies it developed called SKYACTIV and expects to enter the second decade of the 21st century leading the pack in a number of areas. In developing SKYACTIV, Mazda promised more power and efficiency, lighter weight, and the affordability none of its competitors have managed to provide with similar fuel economy.

We have been keeping close tabs on Mazda’s SKYACTIV progress and waiting patiently for the day it would finally make its way to US shores. In our first review of the 155 HP 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine equipped 2012 Mazda 3 (CleanMPG Begins a Review of the 2012 Mazda 3i Touring 5-door with SKYACTIV Technology), the technology proved exceptionally rewarding by allowing an unexpected 65.78 mpgUS on one of our fuel economy loops. This occurred not in the warmer summer months but on the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor during January... and the 3i was handicapped with snow tires! Talk about stacking the deck and walking away with the winnings!

I should also mention that the 3i reviewed above did not include the entire suite of SKYACTIV technologies available to Mazda today. Specifically, the engine's compression ratio was lower (12.0:1 vs. 13.0:1 of the CX-5) due to a packaging constraint of the intake runners and the chassis did not incorporate the latest light weight SKYACTIV components. Unbelievably, it still broke 65 mpg in mid-winter on snow tires.

More SKYACTIV-G drivetrain detail can be found in the 2013 Mazda CX-5 and its 2.0L SKYACTIV-G report.

Let’s dive into the details of the 2013 Mazda CX-5

New from the ground up, the all-new 2013 CX-5 is defined by an advanced 2.0L SKYACTIV-G with either a slick shifting 6-speed manual or an all new 6-speed automatic providing good power delivery and incredible best in segment efficiency. However, the lightweight SKYACTIV chassis (at 3,208 pounds, one of the lightest in the segment) and best-in-class ride and handling creating the fun to drive experience will make it a standout. Adding to its engine and chassis prowess, a class leading interior design uses higher quality materials and a layout that will surely please owners for years to come. All of this and more is standard in the very affordable compact crossover package.

It was just 2 years ago when any (sub)compact rated at 35 mpgUS highway without either hybridization or a diesel engine was worthy of consideration. To receive the same fuel economy from a much larger compact crossover equipped with a far more powerful yet normally aspirated 2.0L would have been unheard of! Yet here we are.

Then there is the door busting price. While the fully loaded AWD equipped CX-5 Grand Touring with Tech package will set you back just under $30K, the base model with 6-speed MT at just $20,695 will make the competition wonder how much will have to be placed on the hood of their own offerings in the next few years just to stay competitive with the CX-5 in price!

Better fuel economy, lower price, improved reliability and the tough to describe enjoyment while cornering just below the limits in this vehicle -- not that we would ever do that mind you -- make for what can arguably be named the best crossover money can buy.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Specifications

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is available in three trim levels: the Sport (as tested), the Touring, and the Grand Touring in either FWD or AWD configurations. Complete specifications, pricing, standard, and optional equipment for the CX-5 can be found within the 2013 Mazda CX-5 – Specifications page.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Exterior

Mazda and its "Soul of Motion"

The all new CX-5's appearance is best described as a different approach to the compact crossover. Mazda’s "Soul of Motion" design language was inspired by nature (what isn’t these days?) and its first iteration arrived in 2010 with the SHINARI concept. While the CX-5’s 5-point grille is a dead ringer, little else was carried forward.

The CX-5’s grille is vastly superior to the smiley face adornment of either the 2 or 3. From the top outer edges of the grille and characterizing the long hood are minor but distinct creases heading back towards the A-Pillars.

Where the CX-5 adds a distinctiveness all its own is the outside of both hood creases where a prominently rounded cutout rolling into the profile highlights the front fender flares without actually matching the front wheel well profile.

Bold lower cutouts for the optional fog lights add some flair but the headlight lenses seem a bit out of proportion with the “new but different” look of Mazda.

In profile that same hood crease cutout blends into the humble beginnings of a high beltline crease that becomes more accentuated as you peer down its length into the rear tail light lenses.

The hard plastic edged front and rear fender flares define most of the crossover segment while the swoosh highlight through doors is underwhelming. The sculpted lower sill plate character line is not so much a design highlight as a tough plastic lower body protector. I wish more vehicles had this feature in fact.

A pretty rear end is standard.

Moving to the rear we find pure unadulterated Mazda -- and one of the best rear configurations in the business.

The profile's body crease moves through the center of the rear taillight lens (just as many do today) but the curved pie shape of the parking lamp makes it unique. A standard horizontal hatch crease and upper bumper fascia are also standard fare these days. The same hard black protective cover along the sill and fender edges is installed along the lower rear bumper fascia not only giving it a tough off-road ready appearance but also providing real protection from every day scrapes and scratches far better than many competitors.

The rear glass is angled just as sharply forward as the windscreen glass upfront is angled back. A prominent roof edge spoiler adds not just the look of speed but also helps reduce the overall aerodynamic drag coefficient to 0.33. A shark fin antennae centered at the rear of the roof adds a little something to the CX-5s presence.

In my opinion up front the CX-5 earns a C, from the side profile a B +, and from the rear an easy A.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Interior

The base Sport with the 6-speed manual interior layout.

The all new CX-5 is far more modern than anything Mazda has provided in the past. Even the bottom trimmed Sport arrives with high quality soft interior plastics that are pleasant from both tactile and visual perspectives.

Cloth headliner, extending sun visors, sunglasses holder -- Bright, high quality material insert across passenger side dash and high quality soft plastic surround you.
Bright window and lock control surrounds, door handles, and nice cloth inserts -- Push button start and a well designed wiper control stalk.

The above is mid to high end content for a compact crossover and unavailable from any of its competitors for the $21,490 (incl D&H) as tested 2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport price.

The tachometer, speedometer, and various user selected displays within the 3 ring instrument cluster are easy to read with large alphanumeric fonts and backlit with metered lighting.

Plenty of front and rear seat head and leg room for 6 + footers.

The CX-5 arrives with a standard tilt and telescopic wheel, 40.1” of headroom and 41” of legroom. You would have to be taller than 6’6” to not find a comfortable fit within the confines of the CX-5 Sport's 6-way manually adjustable driver seat. The Touring and Grand Touring are equipped with six- or eight-way power adjustable seats.

With an almost best-in-class 103.8 and 34.1 cu. ft. of passenger and cargo volume respectively, a rear hatch cutout that will actually swallow a single large box almost the size of the opening, what is not to like?

Interior spaces, a solid A – and more to come.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Price, Volume and Fuel Economy Competitive Comparison

YearMakeModelPricePassenger Volume (cu. ft.)Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined - mpgUS)
2013MazdaCX-5$20,695 - $28,295103.834.126/35/29 (at best)
2012ChevroletEquinox$23,530 - $30,97099.731.422/32/26 (at best)
2012DodgeJourney$18,995 - $29,99599.539.619/26/22 (at best)
2013FordEscape$22,470 - $31,19598.134.323/33/26 (at best)
2012HondaCR-V$22,495 - $29,995104.137.223/31/26 (at best)
2013HyundaiTucson$19,145 - $27,320101.925.723/31/26 (at best)
2012ToyotaPrius v$26,400 to $29,99097.234.344/40/42

Sight-lines to the front are good but you cannot see the front corners unless the seat is adjusted very high. To the rear, the C-pillars (as in most recent vehicles) are overly large (to meet demanding roof crush strength tests) and views directly out of the rear are fine thanks to the large Mazda 5-point shaped rear glass.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Cargo Capacity

Versatility indeed.

NVH? Noise levels are not bad with anything to the front but through the driver’s side glass, anytime a semi or bike is along side, you are going to hear it. In addition, with the windows open, you can hear the injectors ticking away. Vibration through the wheel and seat is minimal.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Infotainment

There are two Audio systems including a base system that provides an AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio with Automatic Level Control (ALC), 4-speaker, digital clock, USB and Auxiliary audio Input jacks. The Touring adds 6 speakers and HD radio. The Grand Touring adds a 225W 9 speaker BOSE system plus Sirius.

While the radio can tune in stations that other manufacturers' radios have never picked up before, the system provides little bass and if you turn it up with the built in equalizer controls, it just gets muddy. The highs are all over the place. While I am most certainly not an audiophile, the radio in the Sport is its most limiting feature.

Another product planning miscue that the Sport trim with 6-speed manual transmission cannot be ordered with the Bluetooth hands free system?

2013 Mazda CX-5 Drivetrain

The true highlight although most will never experience it within the all-new CX-5 is not the 155 HP capable 2.0L but instead its slick shifting 6-speed manual transmission and clutch action. It shifts better than possibly anything I have driven to date other than possibly the Honda Civic 5-speed MT driven late last fall. The shifter is short throws are precise as you can row through all 6-gears (up or down) as fast as your hand can move with only a slight bit of notchiness. I did not miss a gear all week and that is saying something given the maybe 1000 shift over the course of 300-miles? It is the “system” that makes the Mazda manual hum so well with possibly the best clutch I have ever driven. It is light and there is no real sense whatsoever of a grab point. It is also the 6-speed manual that sports the 26/35 mpgUS city/highway rating.

Ride and Handling

The 2013 CX-5 SKYACTIV-Body is comprised of 61 percent high or ultra high strength tensile steel, creating a lighter, stronger body with the all but patented Mazda handling prowess.

An independent McPherson strut up front and multi-link suspension at the rear keep the CX-5 pointed where you want it even in the minor rough stuff.

With the tall platform, there is enough body roll to keep your attention but it is the ease with which I was able to maneuver within a Wal-Mart parking lot surprised me.

Driving across a sharp entryway subdivision curb at 22 mph, the CX-5s ride and handling was completely composed. The larger diameter 17’s certainly help and felt like nothing more than an expansion joint on the highway.

Road feel and turn in? One of the best I have ever experienced. The 3i’s overly synthetic feel at speed as experienced in January has been replaced with a (not overly) progressive ability to turn at ever increasing speeds. It is very linear and now matches my expectations for Mazda tuned suspension and steering setups.

During the Emergency maneuvers in an empty mall parking lot, the harder I pushed the CX-5, the more I learned to respect the suspension and handling engineers that designed it. Having driven a number of crossovers from the MDX down to the 13 Escape, I do not think any of them feel as lively or controlled when pushed to their limits. Even with the Geolanders at all four corners, the turn in is tight and on the skid pad, you do not get understeer or oversteer, you simply enjoy balance vs. the understeer most B, C and D-segment cars we normally drive provide. And this is a taller small crossover, not the hot 3!

2013 Mazda CX-5 Safety

As expected from every manufacturing offering a competitive compact crossover, the 2013 CX-5 is equipped with the standard array of front, side and full side-curtain air bags, four wheel disk brakes, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Launch Assist (HLA), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), daytime running lights (DRL), and active headrests.

A Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps and a rear view camera with distance guide lines is also available with the higher end trims.

IIHS Crash Test Ratings

Mazda CX-5 has already earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

With a solid IIHS Top Safety Pick behind it, only the NHTSA regimen of crash tests is left. It has a better than even chance at scoring a top rated 5 stars from these as well.

2013 Mazda CX-5 – Fuel Economy Results

While the 2013 Mazda CX-5 may be rated at 26/35 mpgUS city/highway, it is certainly worth a lot more than that. The following is the highest round trip we have ever driven a crossover of any type to date. I have seen in excess of 40 mpg in the 2003 3.5L equipped MDX and slightly > 50 mpg in the 2.0L EcoBoost equipped 2012 Ford Edge but we never seen anything close to this from a vehicle in this segment before.

2013 Mazda CX-5 aFCD calibration results

Trip A = 69.2 miles -- aFCD = 65.7 mpg -- 1.125 gallons of fuel consumed. Actual distance traveled per Google Maps = 71.7 miles

Actual mpg = 71.7/1.125 = 63.7 mpg.

The CX-5 Sport’s odometer under reports by 3.5%, the aFCD over reports actual fuel economy by 2.0 mpg at this level or 3.14% and the speedometer under reports actual speed at 60 mph by almost 1.5 mph.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Conclusions

Ride over a number of different surfaces is slightly stiff but still quite comfortable. Braking and road feel are top notch and handling proved to be Mazda trademark excellent with only a slight amount of body roll in hard turns and both wheels breaking at the same time near its limits.

The 13 CX-5’s on-center feel is as close to perfect as I would dare hope for from this type of vehicle. The turn in is also very quick and responsive. The fuel economy? How about we simply describe it as “stupid high”?

The only minor miscues experienced included the Sport trim’s radio providing lack of clarity and bass, lack of Bluetooth, vinyl covered visors, a Push Button Start/Stop car with a proximity key but not having the door locks proximity keyed and I am not entirely fond of the front end design but the rear makes up for it. Also the Sport’s Yokohama Geolander 225/65R17’s do not roll very well either and I can only wonder what the CX-5 would do with some low RRc based Goodyear Assurance FuelMax or Bridgestone EPs on the rims.

Mazda is building something really good here. From the truly fuel efficient drivetrain, slick shifting MT, higher quality interior materials and the tall driving position giving its current and future owners a commanding view of the road, there is not much to dislike even on the base Sport trim.

SKYACTIV is the real deal and thankfully those looking for a compact crossover now have a real choice with Yaris and Fiesta like Fuel Economy without sacrificing the space that meets yours and your family’s needs?

And possibly the CX-5’s most endearing attribute of all is the $20,695 starting price when equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission. In this configuration, more of your hard earned will stay in your wallet rather than go to the bank OR the pump unlike most of its competitors will provide today.

Good Stuff Mazda and your A-Game is definitely showing. With the SKYACTIV-G so good, I have to wonder what is going to happen when the SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel arrives. Whooa boy, look out.

2013 Mazda CX-5 - It has quite a lot going for it (including efficiency!) thanks to Mazda's magicians and SKYACTIV.
By chilimac02 on 05-10-2012, 10:40 PM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

beautiful house in the background. I can't believe those trees don't have leaves yet...

sounds like a good vehicle for its size.
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By seftonm on 05-10-2012, 11:11 PM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

If I were shopping today, this would probably be on my short list.
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By xcel on 05-10-2012, 11:52 PM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Hi All:

Not a bad ride. Heavy tires and the aero is "not so good" but for a compact crossover, it beats everything else in the segment we have driven recently.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Review

aFCD Fuel Economy RT Calibration Loop – Initial fill location and top off.

71.7 miles traveled on the aFCD RT fuel economy calibration drive loop. Gurnee, IL Speedway to Ryan Rd. and back.

The route began at the Speedway in Gurnee, headed almost due North to Ryan Rd. and looped back to the same Speedway and pump.

The first click began at just .2 gallons and I added another 4.0 on top of that so the Mazda CX-5’s actual capacity is probably closer to 18 - 18.5 gallons, not the 14.8 it is spec’ed at.

Winds were out of the SE at 0 to 5 mph. Temperatures ranged from 50 – 58 degrees and traffic was light to moderately heavy through the construction zones near I-94 and Highway 50 in Kenosha, WI. “That 70’s Show” town

Final top off and fill location at the Speedway in Gurnee, IL.

Last edited by xcel : 05-15-2012 at 04:04 PM.
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By xcel on 05-11-2012, 12:07 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Hi All:

Here are the aFCD calibration results.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Review

Trip A = 69.2 miles -- aFCD = 65.7 mpg -- 1.125 gallons of fuel consumed. Actual distance traveled per Google Maps = 71.7 miles

Actual mpg = 71.7/1.125 = 63.7 mpg.

The CX-5 Sport’s odometer is under reporting by 3.5% and its aFCD is over reporting actual fuel economy by 2.0 mpg at this level or 3.14%.

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By Carcus on 05-11-2012, 12:37 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

By the looks of it, 'somebody's' not happy with the cat chow purchase.

What were you thinking?
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By herm on 05-11-2012, 07:12 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Originally Posted by Carcus View Post
By the looks of it, 'somebody's' not happy with the cat chow purchase.
What were you thinking?
LOL, she is making a sad face.. its enough to feed 40 cats!
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By jeffdavis on 05-11-2012, 09:25 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Wayne, did I miss it, or did you leave out your speeds on this fuel economy run? Any word on that? Average speed? Top speed? Thanks!
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By xcel on 05-11-2012, 09:41 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

Hi Justin:

It does not quite have the space of your Pilot but it would be a decent replacement.

Mike, I can almost bet you and a future family will be considering one but with the 2.2L SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel instead

Carcus and Herm, she will eat practically anything. Clothes, paper, packaging, plastic, nuts and bolts... And she really likes cat food so I have to keep that away from her too

Jeff, the top speed was 55 and the bottom was of course 0. Avg speed was 41 mph with 8 traffic lights, ~ 10% city and maybe 8-miles of two lane through the construction on I-94.

I should have some steady state speed results later today.

Last edited by ItsNotAboutTheMoney : 08-20-2012 at 05:36 PM.
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By Carcus on 05-11-2012, 10:06 AM
Re: CleanMPG Reviews the 2013 Mazda CX-5

The internets are forecasting high of 70 deg up your way. Too bad it's going to be breezy.

Even so, I'm forecasting a 70 mph SS in excess of 35 mpg on the 6mt.

"The company also quotes a drag coefficient of 0.33, which makes it more aerodynamic than a Corvette (which has a drag coefficient of 0.34). "
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