2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport Review

MPG-o-Matic 2013 Mazda CX-5 Review Summary:
The 2013 Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV is the most fuel efficient crossover sold in America, with a rating of 35 miles per gallon (MPG) on the highway in the front-wheel-drive base model. But it’s about so much more than just the MPGs. Unlike many of its competitors, the CX-5 can be equipped with a manual transmission. The shifter is top notch, adding a dimension to the CX-5 that’s simply uncommon. Leave it to Mazda to create a small roomy crossover that’s actually fun to toss about. While it’s no speed demon, this little critter has sufficient pep, handles well and absolutely begs to be driven.

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is powered by a 16-valve DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine that produces 155 horsepower (HP) and 150 foot pounds of torque. The inline four can be mated to either a six-speed SKYACTIV overdrive manual or automatic Sport transmission. The automatic has a manual-shift mode. While the CX-5 is available in front-wheel- (FWD) or Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive (AWD), the manual transmission is only available in the FWD version.

Three levels of trim are offered: Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring.

The official fuel economy estimates for the 2013 Mazda CX-5 range from 26 city / 35 highway miles per gallon for the FWD manual through 25 city / 31 highway for the AWD automatic. The 2WD automatic is rated at 26 / 32.

We traveled over three hundred miles in our manual-equipped FWD Liquid Silver Metallic Sport review unit, and breezed past the official mileage estimates, with an average of 38.2 MPG on the Interstate highway and 33.8 MPG combined with temperatures ranging from the seventies through the nineties. Combined cycle included extended back road cruising.

Interstate Mileage Testing:

  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows up: 38.9 MPG
  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, windows down: 37.9 MPG
  • Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C on, windows up: 36.5 MPG
  • Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, windows down: 39.7 MPG

Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the mid-eighties. Our CX-5 Sport test vehicle was equipped with the standard 17 x 7-inch alloy wheels, clad with P225/65 R17 Yokohama Geolander G91 Highway All-Season tires, and was delivered with just over 4000 miles on the odometer. (The CX-5 Grand Touring is fitted with Toyo A23 Grand Touring All-Season 225/55R19 tires on 19 x 7-inch alloys.)

Highway driving range is quite good. The FWD CX-5 is fitted with a 14.8 gallon fuel tank, while the AWD model is fitted with a slightly larger 15.3 gallon tank. The SKYACTIV-G engine is designed to run on regular unleaded gasoline.

The CX-5’s four-wheel-disc ABS brake system includes electronic brakeforce distribution and Brake Assist, with 11.7-inch ventilated rotors on the front and 11.9-inch solid rotors at the rear. The FWD manual CX-5 model tips the scales at 3208 pounds. The FWD automatic weighs in at 3272 lbs. and the AWD automatic weighs in at 3426 lbs.

The CX-5 has just enough off the line to keep you amused, with a second-gear chirp that’s easily provoked. A monochrome digital Current MPG display is located to the right of the speedometer, to encourage light-footed driving.

Mazda CX-5 six-speed manual shifter

Unlike so many crossovers that can cumbersome to drive, the CX-5 is a joy to toss about. Handling is top shelf, considering the price tag. The superb six-speed manual transmission adds a great deal of engagement and enjoyment to the ride.

While the cabin is handsome and roomy our base-level Sport tester had us wishing for the Touring and Grand Touring models. The Touring model has a six-way power drivers seat with manual lumbar support, while the Grand Touring model has an eight-way power drivers seat with power lumbar, three level front bucket seat heating, and leather upholstery. The Sport has a six-way manual driver’s seat. All models are equipped with a four-way manual front passenger seat.

All CX-5s have steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Hands-free Bluetooth is standard in the Touring and Grand Touring models, but optional in the Sport. iPod support is standard across the range. There are three 12-volt outlets: one in cargo area, one at the base of the dash, and one inside the center console, next to the USB and audio input jack.

The base Sport audio is a four-speaker system. The Touring model’s audio system includes six-speakers. A nine-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system is optional in the Touring model and standard in the Grand Touring.

Taller folks needn’t fear the back seats in the CX-5. The second row provide 39 inches of headroom, and 39.3 inches of legroom. The Touring and Grand Touring models are fitted with 40/20/40 split rear seats (complete with remote release), well suited for hauling winter sports gear.

The CX-5 Sport’s cargo area provides 34.1 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up. Folding down the 60/40 split rear seats down provides a generous 64.8 cubic feet of storage.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport - Liquid Silver Metallic - side view

All-in-all, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 delivers the goods, with class-leading fuel economy, plenty of interior room, solid handling, and a wonderful six-speed manual transmission that puts it at the top of the list for crossover drivers that love to drive. With a more efficient Skyactiv-D diesel engine already available in the CX-5 overseas, this popular new crossover is about to get even more popular … for all the right reasons.

Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 5%
Major Source of Foreign Parts Content: Japan 90%
Final Assembly Point: Hiroshima, Japan
Country of Origin:
Engine – Japan
Transmission – Japan

Warranty Information:
Bumper-to-Bumper – 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain – 5 years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance – 3 years/36,000 miles

– by

2013 Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV Sport FWD

Daniel Gray

11 thoughts on “2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport Review”

  1. I love Mazda and have been waiting for such a new car design. I think this model will win the market.

  2. @Lee – I’m not exactly sure, but from what I’ve read (so far), the CX-5 is not based on the Escape platform.

  3. Nice package, the 2wd Sport really caters to my minimalist nature. You mentioned the seat adjustments on the Touring and Grand Touring levels, is the Std. Sport level full manual for seat adjustments?

  4. Thanks for the reply, in looking at your addition and the Mazda site spec sheet, It appears there is no lumbar support on the Sport model, I certainly hope this is not the case on what appears to be a well thought out suspension/engine/transmission package(Sport 2WD w/ manual transmission).

  5. @G – I would absolutely love to build a CX-5 Sport+ MPG concept: Recaro or Sparco front buckets, custom rear upholstery to match, lowering springs, lightweight aftermarket wheels (perhaps Enkei RPF1s or Motegi MR125s), low-rolling-resistance tires (Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental or Pirelli), and an aftermarket audio/nav system with an advanced fuel efficiency display.

  6. Sounds like a plan, I feel 40-42 mpg is well within grasp in the 2WD platform. I’ve seen similar platformed 2WD Tiguans lowered and it looks great, Eibach?
    Keep us posted, I’ll gladly donate a few $ for the project.

  7. Next to the sedan model, Mazda will also be unveiling the station wagon version of the 2013 Mazda 6 at the 2012 Paris Auto Show. Both models displayed at the French show will be powered by Mazda’s new SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine and are scheduled to go on sale later this year.

  8. So the CX-5 is not only a major stride forward for Mazda but also a compelling reason for die-hard SUV haters to reconsider whether fun and function can co-exist in one vehicle.

  9. topspeed,
    Any news of the Mazda 6 Wagon making it to the U.S. in Diesel or Gas form? If the Diesel is 50 state clean, I could deal with one w/ a 6 speed manual transmission.

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