Mazda CX-5 Automotive Review
It seems like every automotive maker is racing towards the compact SUV segment as of late. It’s become a crowded party, but arguably not the most exciting. Mazda is looking to change all that by tossing some “zoom zoom” into the mix with its brand new CX-5.
This compact SUV is Mazda’s attempt at breathing life back into the tired Tribute, and the Japanese are giving it their all. It’s the first Mazda fitted with the entire range of the automaker’s new SkyActiv Technology, which includes new engine, transmission, body and chassis designs that are meant to increase fuel efficiency while strengthening safety and maintaining a dynamic, fun-to-drive feel.
Under the hood, the SkyActiv-G, 2-Litre engine powering the CX-5 delivers a modest 155-horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. But what really cranks heads is the engine’s impressive 13:1 compression
ratio – the world’s highest for a mass-produced vehicle. Essentially, this means the CX-5 milks every drop of petrol for all its worth. Combined with its lightweight body and chassis – it weighs just under 3,000 pounds – its fuel efficiency is astounding. In fact, Mazda boasts that the CX-5 generates best-in-class highway fuel economy. At 5.7 L/100 kilometres on the highway (where you’re playing in hybrid leagues), and 7.8 L/100 km in the city, Mazda has plenty of bragging rights.
The fuel efficiency does come at a price. Off the line, you’re not getting that familiar Mazda pep, and when your foot’s down at cruising speeds, it’s more of the same. Not to say that it’s slow, because once it gets moving there’s satisfying speed, but it does feel like the CX-5 lacks the urgency of its kin. With fuel economy that strong, however, this point is easy to look past. Especially when rolling by the staggering prices at the pumps, which you’ll do repeatedly in this economical crossover SUV.
It’s light yet stiff suspension also handles with surprising agility. The CX-5 glides in and out of corners phenomenally well, especially for its class.
But how does it do in the looks department? While most compact SUVs tend to be more stylistically reserved, the Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan are just two that instantly come to mind, but that isn’t the case with the CX-5. Similar to Ford, which gave a much-needed facelift to the 2013 Escape, the CX-5 is a sharp contrast to the aging Tribute that it’s replacing. Adding to the CX-5’s lists of firsts, Mazda has fashioned it with its new “Kodo – Soul of Motion” theme. I’m not completely sure what that means, but compared to some of the cartoony, over-sized grins of other Mazdas – like the recent Mazda3s and Mazda5s – the CX-5 appears much more professional. The smile is smaller. The eyes are slightly mischievous. Compared to the child-like faces of the 3 and 5, the CX-5 looks like an athlete primed for the big game. Even when placed side-by-side with its big brothers, the CX-7 and CX-9, it champions fitness and aggressiveness. Its cheeks are sharper, not as chubby as the aforementioned mid- and full-size crossover SUVs, and its physique is leaner. Indeed, this is a sporty looking compact.
Inside, you might be thinking that “compact” means sacrificing space, but the CX-5 is actually deceptively capacious. The truck provides impressive cargo room, and when the 40-20-40 backseats are folded down, which is easily done thanks to nifty remote release levers – an industry first, according to Mazda – you’ll gain nearly double the storage. The seating is also very comfortable, especially in the front, and even with a taller driver you won’t suffocate in the second row. With the windows up, the ride is quiet like a whisper.
Stylistically, the interior looks great in most areas, while others, like the doors and passenger-side dash, lack the personality exuding from the rest of CX-5. The steering wheel maintains the sporty esthetic, and the metallic sheen of the driver-side dash is a nice touch; although, I could see the right gauge, where you’ll find the fuel metre, to be a bit busy for some. The 5.8-inch touch-screen is also user-friendly, with available navigation and Sirius Satellite radio.
As for the cherry on top, the CX-5 was named the “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you can look past it’s shortcomings, there’s plenty to love about the new CX-5: it looks poised and certain, handles beautifully, and is exceptionally light on fuel.
Specifications: Mazda CX-5 Compact Crossover SUV
Engine: SKYACTIV-G 2.0-Litre
Torque: 150 lb. ft.
Fuel Economy L/100km: City7.8/ Highway 5.7
Transmission: SKYACTIV-Drive 6-speed automatic transmission
Base MSRP: $22,995