Giving the people what they want is generally a good idea if you want to avoid protests and riots. Thankfully, carmakers seem more open to listening to their customers than some governments are to their taxpayers.
Mazda has a gift that more often than not, provides consumers what they want; even if they did not know they had a hankering for it. Case in point: the Mazda MX-5. No one saw that one coming and for the last 20+ years, I've wanted one.
The very popular Mazda3 is an example of Mazda providing the car buying public with a little bit of everything; it looks good, drives great, and is reasonably economical and affordable.
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is another grand slam touchdown for Mazda. What consumers have been asking for is a compact family mover that's got style and dislikes fuel. Mazda has delivered.
The new CX-5 is cute like a French bulldog all the while avoiding looking like a teenager's first car. By far, Mazda's newest crossover has the best integrated front family smirk-fascia of the entire line-up. What makes the CX-5 appealing are its rising beltline and short front and rear overhangs; it's a modern-day hit!
Between the dual tailpipes and snout, Mazda has managed to fit in a nicely appointed although snug cabin. Presentation is spot on: layout and materials are exactly what today's discerning buyer is searching out. The airy yet busy dashboard is ripe with all the latest must-haves, including push-button start and available rearview camera.
The front seats provide plenty of comfort, but the rear bench is not as accommodating. I carried three slender adult females (wife included) in the rear and they complained about the lack of hip and shoulder room.
That's not all they protested about.
Another fashionable trend has to do with many of these sport-utility crossovers being set up with uselessly stiff suspensions. The Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are very guilty of this, but the 2013 Mazda CX-5 takes the cake and this is no prize.
My three rear passengers commented repeatedly on the poorly controlled, bouncy ride and how unpleasant the entire experience was. It is true that the vehicle's ride is overdampened and generally uncomfortable the moment the pavement replaces silky smoothness for the odd fissure and imperfection.
The compromise is exactly this: On a proper stretch of highway, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 does wonders for the driver's confidence. It holds true to its course and barely leans into curves. Handling is better than good. Ride comfort, quite the opposite.
The electric steering feels well balanced and responsive, and the brakes provide all the desired stopping power the average user could ever want.
This technology is being touted to the world as the "future now." It represents a mix of weight-saving materials and the latest hi-tech wizardry for engines and transmissions The CX-5 and 3 are the first two products from Mazda to sport SKYACTIV-G engines.
The CX-5's only offered mill is a 155-hp 2.0L 4-pot. Although low on power on paper, SKYACTIV reduces weight and friction and increases compression and efficiency, essentially allowing more of the engine's 150 torques and horses to make it the wheels.
The 6-speed automatic transmission features more of the same enhancements. The two together prove to be well matched; however, both are short on refinement, not performance.
The motor springs to life with a rough and initially disturbing grumble. It quickly dissipates never to return until the engine completely cools off once more. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a far cry from being quick; however, its presentation slots it in the middle of its segment.
The point that was expected to place the CX-5 in a league of itself was its fuel consumption. I say "was" because I've managed numbers only slightly higher in vehicles with more power and with smoother powertrains, such as the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan. Be that as it may, consuming only 8.5L of fuel per 100 km is impressive.
Hot off the shelf
Despite any misgivings I may have about the CX-5's ride and engine/transmission combo, in certain markets of the country, dealerships are having a hard time holding onto inventory.
With a starting price of $22,995, the vehicle's got the necessary arguments to make it on the shopping list. A similarly equipped Kia Sportage is a grand less and a FWD Honda CR-V LX (only available with a 5-speed autobox) goes for $25,990. Of the three, I can tell you that the Honda is neither my 1st or 2nd choice.
My Sky Blue Mica GT AWD tipped the pricing scale at $32,495 which, once again, makes it a decent deal when compared to the others.
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is a proper contender in this segment and deserves all the attention it is getting.
My only comment, negative as it may be, is to watch out for the vehicle's reliability. New technologies like SKYACTIV, although many of its features exist elsewhere, can be quirky, especially early on.
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