Car Reviews – 2013 Mazda CX-5 Test Drive

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Looks Great. Less Filling.

We knew we wouldn’t be buying a CX-5, but for our Car Reviews we wanted to see what our options would be right now if we were buying brand new. I was totally impressed with our test drive of Mazda‘s new crossover, and if you can read between the zillion metaphors, I think you’ll find Mr. HBWT did too!

Read on for Mr. HBWT’s full review!

2013 Mazda CX-5 Review & Test Drive:

Yay:
-Styling
-Outstanding fuel economy
-Tight handling

Nay:
-The stock stereo
-1 Zoom

Okay…. So here is the scenario. There is a popular girl at the junior high dance (the customer). A bunch of fellows are jockeying for position to dance with her (the crowded compact SUV market). Some of the fellows are pretty certain they will dance with her (CR-V, RAV-4, Grand Vitara). Then in walks the new exchange student (the Mazda CX-5) with his fancy duds and sophisticated-sounding accent and it is pretty much game over for all of the rest.

To me the most exciting new entry into the compact SUV class,the baby brother to the CX-9 and CX-7, is the Mazda CX-5. It looks great , goes toe to toe with hybrids for economy, is spacious, and is a true joy to drive.

Inside the CX-5 there is no want of room -I had plenty up front and loved how I sat under the dash and wheel with room to spare for my 6’7″ legs and 2nd row can sit 3 adults comfortably. The model we had was a bit of a departure from the normal media fleet cars as it was the mid grade – all wheel drive but fabric seats and stock sound system with limited techno trinkets like navigation – but it didn’t feel like a major step down which was refreshing. My only main gripe is the stereo – in both the CX-5 and 9 we had, the stereo is definitely wanting compared to some of the others in its class (like the Outlander). Perhaps it is best to get the base stereo in Mazdas and then look to third party down the road if you find your party don’t stop. Rear storage may be a bit of a compromise compared to the others – it definitely takes a hit with the rear sloped styling compared to the CR-V and RAV-4 but should not be a significant issue.

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The More We Looked, The More We Liked…

Driving this vehicle is what impressed me the most, and now I understand as a former outsider what the whole Zoom-Zoom thing is about. The CX-5 is tight. The steering is positive, and it feels like it is always firmly planted on the ground with almost none of that characteristic sway that this whole class of vehicles seem to suffer from. As in the CX-9 there is some pretty wicked blind spots (especially over the driver’s left shoulder) but the blind spot monitoring system does help with that – my continued skepticism of relying on something like this is still valid, but to me but it is better than nothing. Hey… High heels wreck the ladies’ feet but they do look good. (ed. note – Oh brother!)

Performance – both fuel economy and power, are closely linked to the driving experience and this vehicle’s smoking fuel consumption (at 8.5L/100Km in the city is the best we have had by a LOT – compare to the CR-V pushing 12) does come at a price. It is by no means a rocket like the RAV-4 with the 6 cylinder – and if that is an issue then I think you should look elsewhere. But with that said, and the type of economy it can produce (thanks to some pixie dust called SKYACTIV – I won’t even attempt, in my automotive idiocy, to explain some of its key features), it is by no means a dog and I never felt wanting for power in terms of safety or felt frustrated by its singular zoom. If your ego can live with an Orlando beating you off the line (the only other crossover we drove that came close to this efficiency) then you’ll do okay.

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“It Just Feels Right”

Outside the CX-5 is the clear winner for me in styling. Though missing the classic SUV lines of the RAV-4, it goes off in its own direction and looks to me like a pugnacious boxer – sleek yet substantive. Price point is very similar to its main rivals with entry level in the high ’20s (with a manual transmission option that sounds like great fun but is sadly not available in the upgrades) up to around 40k all in. I am curious, as an aside, what the future plan is for the Mazda SUV lineup – though nice, the CX-7 now seems like the odd man out bookended by the sporty gas sipping junior and luxurious people hauling senior and I wonder if its days are numbered.

What else can I say …The CX-5 is just different than the rest. It is fun and comfortable to drive, looks great, and gets killer, and I repeat KILLER fuel economy with no compromise in looks and space (and minimal in performance) which is very exciting to me in any class. If we were buying new (and for this you must, as it is the 2013) it would be this*.

Okay… Clearly I think the new kid is pretty dreamy.

*pending CRV- loving wife’s approval

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I think it’s safe to say he liked the CX-5! The fact that they channel The Six-Million Dollar Man for their commercials only seals the deal! I’m really impressed by the fact that this car’s fuel efficiency rivals that of a hybrid, without the expensive batteries. And please excuse my silly usage of old commercial slogans for the photo tags. This whole Car Review process has been a real education for me in terms of what is important in a family vehicle, I feel very lucky for us to have this opportunity to review so many cars so extensively. Next up is the Kia Sorento and the Suzuki Grand Vitara – and then… dun dun dun… We’ll let you know what we bought!

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