2013 Mazda CX-5 new car reviews

Mazda has done away with the controversial smiley face front. The CX-5 is the first production car to show its new styling direction.
The rear-end matches the front and looks fine, a rarity with past Mazda vehicles.

Better than: Every other small SUV
But not as good as: Brown AMC Eagle with Orange Stripes and CB Radio
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 75.16

We tested another of Mazda's new CX-5s, this time with a manual transmission. It felt good to have three pedals in a new SUV; Rowing your own gears further improves this already great car. Ours was a base model with no options, placing its MSRP at $21,490.

The icing on the cake is the gas mileage: We averaged 35 miles to the gallon in mixed driving, which is far better than most of the small cars hanging around our office.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I'm still kind of blown away that we got a small ute fitted with a manual transmission. It's like Mazda made a typo and forgot to correct it before sending an issue to press. Either way, I'm not complaining. Oddly, though, I can't see the take rate being more than just a few percent.

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Associate Editor

I got in this little SUV and promptly hated it. My foot was on the brake, so why wouldn't it start? How, in this age of microwaves, iPhones, and underage Chinese gymnasts, could a brand new car already have a dead battery! I sat there glaring at the dash, wondering how a car with a few hundred miles on it could already be broken. "At least the interior is comfortable," I thought to myself. Then I noticed the shift lever was bent over to the left for some reason, and it wasn't in "that P gear" (what most SUV owners refer to the parking pawl as). What a cheap piece of junk! Park isn't even labeled!

Wait a second, this has a manual transmission!? But it's a new SUV! It has 4 doors and a high stance! I almost started crying with joy; every vehicle I own has a stick (including my SUV).

Bewildered, I pushed in the clutch, turned the key, and the CX-5 roared, err, uh, chirped... to life. I was driving a new SUV, and it had 3 pedals and a shift boot. Maybe the world wasn't ending, after all.

Driving the CX-5 was a treat, it reminded me of a Miata. It's also similarly underpowered, but you don't need very much power in a grocery getter. It shifts great, handles well, looks good, and carries a fair amount of stuff.

No, it isn't a real truck, but most people don't need a real truck. If you're towing more than 2,000 pounds regularly, then you're probably looking at vehicles with frames and more power.

I'll admit that most CX-5 buyers probably won't get the manual transmission, which is sad. However, even if this car wasn't so fun to drive, I'd still like it. It's the perfect car for 90% of people. Put simply, the CX-5 restored my hope in cars and car manufacturers.

Alan Cesar Alan Cesar
SuperDork

Oh, I liked this so very much more than a current Mazda3. It's fun to drive, useful, easy to get in and out of, has an excellent interior layout and controls. It's not as cheap as a Kia Soul—which is also available with a stick and gets good gas mileage—but it feels far more upscale, stylish, subtle, and better-equipped. The Kia has a lot more grunt; you might even call it surprisingly fast. But the Mazda CX-5 is more fun to drive by a long shot. I'd take the CX-5 any day.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
neon4891
neon4891 UltimaDork
9/13/12 9:38 p.m.

If it is in my budget when I need something new, this is top of the list.

Virginia auto repair
Virginia auto repair None
9/17/12 12:02 a.m.

Very beautiful and powerful car. defiantly buy it as i could afford :)

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

We tested another of Mazda's new CX-5s, this time with a manual transmission. It felt good to have three pedals in a new SUV; Rowing your own gears further improves this already great car. Ours was a base model with no options, placing its MSRP at $21,490.

The icing on the cake is the gas mileage: We averaged 35 miles to the gallon in mixed driving, which is far better than most of the small cars hanging around our office.

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