Finally, Mazda Presents the 2013 CX-5

2013 Mazda CX-5, front

For a company that makes good full-size SUVs, we have wondered for some time why Mazda hasn’t made a smaller one. Well, now it has.

Only thing is, the CX-5 needs more power to compete with cars like the Honda CR-V. But it costs less and gets better mileage. And comes with a lot of stuff standard, in three trims, starting at $20,695. The top-of-line CX-5 Grand Touring ups the ante to $28,295; the AWD model costs $23,345. Lots of goodies to choose from.

But right now, you get only one engine—a 2-liter with 150 hp (at 6,000 rpm) and 150 lb-ft of torque. The press release:

All 2013 CX-5 models are equipped with the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine. At 13:1, SKYACTIV-G features the world’s highest compression ratio for a mass-produced car. By comparison, a Ferrari 458 Italia supercar has a compression ratio of 12.5:1.

Mazda thought you’d like to know that in case you were thinking of buying an Italia instead.

2013 Mazda CX-5, rearThe CX-5 has just appeared at the Chicago Auto Show, and it’s not bad looking. But in a market with the Tiguan and even the RAV4, the only break the CX-5 really has going for it (besides price) is best-in-class fuel economy:

Front-wheel-drive (FWD) models equipped with the standard SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission are EPA rated with an estimated fuel economy of 26 city/35 highway/29 combined mpg—the highest highway fuel economy rating of any SUV in North America, including hybrids.

The car has already won some awards (from Autobytel and MotorWeek) and claims “dynamic handling.” But this is a tough market segment, and Mazda needs all the help it can get.

The company had a terrible year and now forecasts a net loss of $1.29 billion in FY 2012, its fourth straight year of losses. Mazda is seeking alliance partners (good luck) and is attempting to counter the cost of making cars in Japan by building a factory in Mexico and pushing exports.

Mazda has always made very good cars, sometimes quirky ones, and we hope the CX-5 can provide the shot in the arm it needs.

What would be your choice in buying a small crossover? Would the CX-5 be on your list?

—jgoods

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2 Comments

  1. It’s a cute car. Wagon/SUV styles seem to really resonate with American buyers, so something small that blurs the line should do well. I was just seeing on the morning news that Chevy was planning a wagon version of the Cruze, but only planned to sell it in Europe at this time.

  2. Absolutely! Going to see all 3 widely divergent vehicles that I’ve narrowed my search down to next Friday at the Pittsburgh Auto Show. I’m down to the Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda CX-5, and Senor, you will be proud of me, the Toyota Prius C (not a crossover but the mileage is seductive). I believe that all three entail many comprises that I may not, in the end, be able to stomach. The Mazda is said to be a real dog with respect to power, the Crosstrek and Prius C are probably going to be too small for one with my proportions and also suffer from the same power deficiencies.

    In any case the crossover field is becoming very competitive and with all the choices out there, crossovers are a compelling segment to look at. Their number one problem? is that of mileage, especially for those of us who must have AWD. The Mazda claims to have the highest mpg of all crossovers, but all those claims are relative based on how they arrive at their combined mpg figures and how an individual’s driving habits and terrains traversed play a role. We’ll see.

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