Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mazda CX-5 is a Sporty Crossover

Crossovers have become quite popular in the past few years, but you might not think of "fun to drive" as among the top descriptors of these small SUVs.

But if you're talking Mazda, you're talking about a company with "fun to drive" in its DNA.

The company has released its CX-5 crossover for the 2013 model year.

This sporty model is highlighted by SkyActiv, the company’s all-encompassing technology to raise fuel economy and reduce emissions, while still producing vehicles that are fun to drive.

Mazda has said every vehicle will incorporate the SkyActiv technology, which involves powertrains, platforms, designs and engineering.

Mazda's biggest step so far with SkyActiv (it's also found in some Mazda3 models) is with the launch of the CX-5, which is replacing the CX-7 crossover in Mazda's North American lineup. The CX-7 will still be sold overseas.

In this category, Mazda is competing with the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue.

The base model CX-5, the GX with front-wheel-drive, starts at a shade under $23,000. The model expected to be the most popular, the GS, goes for right around $28,000 and the highest trim model GT starts at around $32,500.

Mazda has not skimped on any of the models, but the higher the trim level, the more goodies you get.

The GT model has all-wheel drive standard, for example, but you'll pay a $2,000 premium to get that on the lower two trims.

Mazda is touting the CX-5 as having the best highway fuel economy of any SUV. Its EPA numbers are 26 mpg city, 32 highway.

This vehicle definitely carries the Zoom-Zoom mantra of Mazda nicely, as it drives quite sportingly.

And it's pretty good looking too.

It could be a big seller, despite having a slightly higher starting price than some of its key competitors.

Notably, Mazda really seems to be taking aim at Hyundai with this vehicle, and perhaps going forward.

Heck, who isn't?

The Korean automaker has become a juggernaut over the past couple of years, introducing stylish vehicles that are well equipped and very reasonably priced.

Mazda seems to be trying to do likewise with the CX-5. It has made the vehicle only slightly smaller than the CX-7, yet it has excellent interior roominess.

The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine makes 155 horsepower and 150 pounds-feet of torque.

The automatic transmission is terrific, shifting smoothly upward and matching revs upon downshifts.

Cornering is great, also, and braking is very responsive.

The CX-5 acquitted itself quite nicely on the track and autocross at Laguna Seca.

Mazda paid attention to visibility, which drivers will appreciate, as well as functionality; the rear seat folds down to provide a very useful cargo area.

Overall, with the right amount of marketing muscle behind it, the CX-5 looks to be a real gamer in the small SUV market.


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