My wife and I bought her current vehicle, a 2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport FWD on December 19, 2012. We traded in her old car, a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu LT V6 (the pinnacle of lameness and cheap/shoddy build work). I generally don't spend a lot of time with the CX-5, unless I'm driving it because we are both going somewhere or because we are both home alone and the CX-5 is parked behind my car. However, I spent today taking our newest Zoom-zoomer to the dealer we have it serviced through (they're 35 miles away but we trust them, so it's worth it). So, I thought I'd do a review.

(Full Disclosure: Mazda wanted me to drive the 2013 Mazda CX-5 so badly that they let my wife and I buy it and finance it at a hell of a good rate - which is a moot point anyway because we have already paid it off.)

Exterior: 8/10

Cute-utes aren't generally known as "sexy" or "flashy", because that's not their goal. The CX-5 is no exception. But, I have to say, I do overall admire the way it looks. Ours has the $275.00 roof rails (in addition to an upgraded radio and an automatic transmission as the only options), which I think add a sort of upscale flair while matching the silver badges and rear trim work. The front has Mazda's corporate grill, which I like way more than their smiley-face trend of the last few years. Around back, there are dual exhaust tips which are sporty but not garish, either.

Interior: 7/10

It's really not too bad, even though ours is a base model. The dashboard is soft, and hard plastics overall are pretty scarce. Not to say they are absent, though. The steering wheel is small, but is easy to adjust to comfort since it tilts and telescopes. The seats seem hard at first, but are adequate for long trips. Materials seem to be holding up well, with the exception of the map pocket on the rear of the driver's seat. The stitching on the right side has come loose for no apparent reason and will be corrected under warranty soon. Also, the rear seat is very accommodating with regards to legroom. No rear cupholders is a big minus, though.


Acceleration: 4/10

The main complaint with the 2013 CX-5 was a lack of power. The 2.0 SkyActiv puts out 155 HP, which was apparently not enough. For 2014, Mazda answered the call and made the 2.5 SkyActiv (184 HP) available on all but the absolute base models. In the real world, neither my wife nor myself have any issues with the CX-5 or its 2.0's power output. We have no issues passing or merging onto interstates, and the low-end grunt, while being a meager number on paper, is perfectly sufficient for pulling the trucklet around town. Not to say the CX-5 is a drag racer or even a sportster, but it isn't tragically slow - especially for a compact SUV.


The 160 MPH speedometer is hilarious, though.

Braking: 7/10

I have done two panic stops in the CX-5, both because of deer running out in front of me on rural roads. The stops come almost shockingly quick to me, and the ABS does its job silently. Pedal feel and travel is good. Longevity seems to be on track, too, because the CX-5 has 17,200 miles on it now and the brakes look new.


Ride: 8/10

Smooth. That's the word we and almost everyone that has ridden in the CX-5 has used to describe it. Road noise is low, especially compared to my '08 Mazda3 with lowering springs, and the body absorbs road impacts without complaint. That comes in handy with our perpetually under-construction roads around here.

Handling: 7/10

The CX-5 is fun. Yes, fun. I've taken it on multiple twisty backroads and it is very sure-footed and smooth throughout the corners. It hangs on as best as it can, sometimes feeling so sure footed that you think you're driving a Mazda3. That being said, the CX-5 is still an SUV. The warning sticker on the sun visor reminds you of that and to "avoid excessive speed and abrupt maneuvers." It even has a little picture of a Jeep-type thing flipping over.


Gearbox: 7/10

Yes, our CX-5 is an automatic. The six-speed unit is very satisfying, though. It offers a manual shift mode that isn't too intrusive, although my wife has never used it. I've tested it, though. In regular driving, the transmission is in an incredible hurry to upshift, a result of tuning towards maximum fuel efficiency, of course. However, upon a mash of the accelerator, the 2.0 grunts and the transmission will eagerly downshift immediately and as much as it needs to. A delay to downshift has always been my pet peeve with autos. Thankfully, that's not present here.


Toys: 4/10

Ours is a Sport model, which is the base trim. So, you can't expect much. I really wish we would have sprung for a Grand Touring model, because it wouldn't have made much of a difference in our payment. That being said, ours does at least have the upgraded stereo with Bluetooth and aux/USB inputs. The USB port likes to randomly say "iPod Error" and refuse to play music, though. That's probably the fault of my phone (a nearly two-year-old iPhone 5) as much as it is the car.

Other than Bluetooth, we have nothing. No backup camera, no power seats, no moonroof, no heated seats, no automatic climate control. On the plus side, I guess there is less stuff to break in years down the road.


Audio: 6/10

The stereo is okay. It's not phenomenal, but it works. It seems to be overly sensitive to media, though. Volume levels for music played through Bluetooth, USB, and AM/FM radio are drastically different. Sometimes, we find ourselves having to almost max out the volume to hear our music adequately. Then other times, the radio seems drastically loud. It's a crapshoot, but when you do find the right volume level and sound adjustment (all done via the touchscreen's menu which is remarkably user friendly), it can and will sound good!


Value: 7/10

We paid right around $25,000 for the CX-5 before our trade-in. Compared to many new small SUV prices, I found that to be more than acceptable. Considering the equipment level at the time, only the Hyundai Tucson was able to offer more for less.



Engine: 2.0 liter "SkyActiv" Direct-Injection Four-Cylinder

Horsepower: 155

Torque: 150 lb./ft.

0-60: 9.5 seconds

Top Speed: 116 MPH

Seating: It will hold five, but the fifth won't be that comfortable. Short trips are fine, though.


MSRP: $24,340