The Mazda CX-5 has already claimed its first victim in the fight for compact utility vehicle sales: it's the slightly larger (and less fuel-efficient) CX-7 crossover. Mazda has confirmed that it will discontinue the CX-7 at the end of this year to make way for the new Skyactiv SUV.

Mazda has confirmed rumors that the CX-7 will be discontinued at the end of the model year for North American markets. It will continue to be sold outside of the U.S., Mazda spokespeople say, but inside the state's the CX-7 will be replaced by its younger, more technologically adept sibling, the CX-5.

Sales of the CX-7 peaked at 41,653 in 2007, the year after it was released, but dwindled to just 20,583 in 2009. The car only received one major upgrade, in the form of a front-end redesign, which lent it the smiley-shaped grille commonly found in Mazda's Nagare design language.

Sales of the CX-7 did rebound back to 35,641 last year, just in time for the upstart CX-5 to be launched in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Mazda has since said it's setting ambitious goals and expecting "aggressive sales" of the 2013 CX-5, which means the company is refocusing its efforts. Considering that competitors like Ford and Honda sell more CR-Vs and Escapes by March than Mazda sells CX-7s all year, that might not be a bad idea.

It might seem that the CX-5 and CX-7 wouldn't directly square off against one another, but the numbers suggest differently. The CX-5 and 7 are offer similar powertrains (the CX-5 features Mazda's Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter I-4 making 155 horsepower, while the CX-7 uses an older 2.5-liter engine with 161 horsepower), and they are similarly sized. The 2013 CX-5 is two inches shorter in wheelbase and five inches shorter in length than the CX-7.

Despite that difference, the 2013 CX-5 actually offers more interior space than the CX-7. The new model has 103.8 cubic feet of interior volume to the CX-7's 101.7, alongwith nearly seven more cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are folded. A front-wheel drive automatic CX-5 is also 224 pounds lighter than a comparably equipped CX-7. Naturally, this also means better gas mileage: the CX-5 outscores the CX-7's fuel economy numbers by between four and six miles to the gallon (26 city/32 highway and 20 city/28 highway, respectively).

Source: Mazda