2013 Mazda CX-5 Verdict
Over the course of a year, there has been no other vehicle parked in our garage that I've complimented as much as my CX-5, nicknamed Blue. The variety of positive remarks was never extraordinary, but the number of times I repeated them was. Every time someone asked, "So, how do you like the CX-5?" I replied, "I like it a lot," and began listing its many attributes.
I'd begin with design. The CX-5 with its Kodo style looks fresh and original. Compared to the busy mixes of lines and shapes on the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4, the CX-5 is astutely simple, athletic, and attractive. For more flair, I added Mazda's optional roof rails ($250), crossbars ($125), Yakima snowboard carriers ($137), trailer hitch ($318) and wiring harness ($11), Yakima bike carrier ($205), all-weather mats ($95), and cargo cover ($200). The racks gave the CX-5 a rugged look, though they did boost wind noise inside.
I'd then describe how the compact physique belied a roomy cabin steeped in simplicity and capacious enough to shuttle five passengers comfortably. Sub-6-foot-5 back-seat riders enjoyed generous elbow- and kneeroom, a contrast to what my previous 2011 Nissan Juke SL long-termer offered. The dash layout, climate control switchgear, and TomTom navigation/multimedia screen required no drastic learning curve and looked great.
As a Grand Touring model, Blue came packed with amenities. It had automatic door locks, leather, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, tilt/telescoping wheel, HD radio, heated front seats, 5.8-inch display with rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, moonroof, blind-spot monitoring system. Making Blue all the sweeter was its Grand Touring Tech Package ($1325) with bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, navigation, and security alarm. There wasn't an evening drive when I wasn't thankful for the superb headlamps.
When I packed the 34.1 cubic feet behind the rear seat, two large suitcases and a few duffle bags fit with no problem. The GT's unique 40/20/40 split-second row helped dramatically when stuffing the cargo hold with unwieldy items. Compared with our beloved Juke, getting bags secured didn't require a Ph.D. in Tetris.
Service intervals every 7500 miles (per Mazda's less severe Schedule 1 plan) mandated minimal maintenance. The first, performed at just over 7500 miles, included a 0W20 oil change and multi-point inspection ($95.95). The next checkup added in a rotation of the 19-inch Toyo tires, brake inspection, and battery test ($106.07). Then came another oil change, tire rotation, and check of the locks and hinges ($84.50) at 22,500 miles.
"Blue covered all the right bases. And for that, it'll be a top CUV recommendation of mine for years to come. Mazda: Bring on the diesel!"
Finally, nearing 30,000 miles, our Mazda dealer performed the most thorough check to date. In addition to the usual oil change and inspections, driveshaft dust boots, front and rear suspension, and steering linkage were checked, and the chassis' and body's bolts were tightened. Our cabin's air filter needed replacing too. We swapped the Toyo A23s for a set of Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max ($861). Total cost for this final service, not including the cost of tires: $169.69.
My $25,890 Juke, with fewer miles accrued (24,757) and a worse observed fuel economy average (22.8 versus 26.4 mpg), was marginally more expensive to maintain over our 12-month loan ($471 versus $456). The CX-5's cheaper maintenance costs were great news in the short term. But over the long haul, when depreciation, insurance, fuel, and repair costs are taken into account, the CX-5 has the highest 5-year cost of ownership ($39,452) compared with the RAV4, Forester 2.5, and Escape. It takes the biggest hit in depreciation ($16,868) and is the second-most expensive to maintain, according to our data-crunching partner IntelliChoice.
With new fluids and footwear, Blue had a refreshed pep in its step. The CX-5 has always been one of the most entertaining CUVs around. This fun factor and the addition of a new 184-hp, 2.5-liter helped it win our recent Big Test (August 2013). For a tall, skinny vehicle, the chassis is as responsive as they come. Ride comfort and road noise suppression were far better than those of its rival set.
I'll finish my spiel with a gripe. While a wonderful product of mpg-conscious engineering,the 155-hp, 150-lb-ft, 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder wasn't terribly adept at quick highway passes, accelerations from a standstill, or mild hill climbs. Blue's six-speed automatic gearbox would respond to throttle jabs with a few snappy, sometimes confused, downshifts, throwing the tachometer into a 6500-rpm frenzy that generated less speed than sound. Manually shifting via the gearshift's + and - shifter gate circumvented the automatic mode's confusion. The gearbox also upshifted more quickly than ideal while accelerating away from stoplights to maximize fuel economy. That new-for-2014 Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter quells any complaints about pokiness. The gearbox is smoother and more intuitive, too.
I've mostly overlooked its lack of go, thanks to its high proficiency in maximizing mpg. Readouts of 27, 28, 31 average combined mpg, as well as estimated single tank ranges of 400-plus miles, were mainstays on the dash's display.
Yes, Blue met -- and surpassed -- all expectations during its year-long stay. For an entry-level CUV, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than the CX-5. So long, Blue. You'll be sorely missed.
|Service Life||14 mo/28,831 mi|
|Price as Tested||$29,265|
|Options||Grand Touring Tech Package ($1325: navigation, HID headlights, keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror); rear bumper guard ($100)|
|Average fuel economy||26.4 mpg|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||26/32/29 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.73 lb/mi|
|Maintenance Cost||$456.21 (4-oil change, inspections; 3-tire rotations; 1-cabin-air filter)|
|Normal-Wear Cost||$861 (tires)|
|3-Year Residual Value*||$14,187|
|* Automotive Lease Guide|
|2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||I-4, aluminum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1998 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||155 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||150 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||21.3 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||11.7-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.0 x 19-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||225/55R19 99V M+S Toyo A23|
|TRACK, F/R||62.4/62.5 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||178.7 x 72.4 x 65.7 in|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||8.5 in|
|APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE||18.6/24.4 deg|
|TURNING CIRCLE||36.7 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3304 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||57/43%|
|TOWING CAPACITY||2000 lb|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.0/39.0 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.0/39.3 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||57.5/55.5 in|
|CARGO VOL BEHIND F/R||64.8/34.1 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||5|
|QUARTER MILE||17.1 sec @ 81.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||118 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.4 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2000 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$29,265|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 mi|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 mi|
|FUEL CAPACITY||14.8 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY ECON||26/32 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||130/105 kW-hrs/100 mi|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.68 lb/mi|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|