2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5. Click image to enlarge

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Mazda Canada

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2013 Mazda CX-5

Compact SUVs and crossovers are becoming increasingly popular in Canada: sales have grown by 27 per cent in the last two years and small SUVs now represent 31 per cent of all light truck sales, according to Mazda Canada’s surveys. Significant new entries include the redesigned 2010 Hyundai Tucson, 2011 Kia Sportage, 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, and coming in 2012, the all-new 2012 Honda CR-V, 2013 Ford Escape and 2013 Mazda CX-5.

Mazda’s current compact SUV, the 2011 Tribute, is getting pretty long in the tooth when compared with newer, more stylish models, particularly those from Korea. The Tribute shared its architecture with the Ford Escape which dated all the way back to 2001. The new CX-5 and Escape, however, are completely different vehicles and share no parts. In fact, Mazda is trying hard to differentiate the CX-5 from its competitors with distinctive new styling and Mazda-exclusive technology, called “SkyActiv.”

2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5
2013 Mazda CX-5. Click image to enlarge

The CX-5’s exterior design is certainly more expressive than the Tribute’s boxy shape. Inspired by Mazda’s “Kodo: Soul of Motion” design theme, the CX-5 aims to combine stylistic dynamism with utility and practicality. Though curvier and more and aerodynamic than the Tribute, the CX-5 still offers the advantages of four large door openings with a low step-in height, a large trunk opening with an easy to lift up hatch, and good visibility for the driver aided by a high seating position, slim A pillars, and outside mirrors positioned closer to the driver with a gap between the A-pillar and the mirror for improved visibility when turning corners.

But while the CX-5 is a stylish contender, we didn’t think the design is particularly revolutionary when compared with the aggressive styling of newer rivals like the Tucson, Sportage, and (the new) Escape. What really differentiates the CX-5 from most of its competitors is its roomy passenger cabin and excellent fuel economy made possible by Mazda’s new “SkyActiv” vehicle technology.

SkyActive is the term Mazda uses to describe a host of improvements to existing engine, transmission, chassis, and body designs which improve fuel economy, emissions, efficiency, and driver involvement without sacrificing, power, performance or comfort. The new CX-5 is the first Mazda vehicle to incorporate all of these SkyActiv technologies in one vehicle.

It begins with the new SkyActiv 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which due to a higher (13: 1) compression ratio, special pistons, modified exhaust system, continuously variable valve timing, and other improvements, now puts out 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm vs the standard 2.0-litre engine found in the Mazda3 GX which makes 148 hp at 6,500 rpm and 135 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm. The 2.0-litre SkyActive engine will be the only engine offered in the CX-5, although a 2.2-litre SkyActiv diesel engine may be added in 2013. Significantly, the CX-5 won’t get an optional V6 or a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, like some of its competitors.

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