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    2013 Mazda CX-5 Touring



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    September 6, 2012

    Mazda is not in the best of health. The past year has been a struggle for the ’zoom-zoom’ brand; Mazda’s growing reliance on their plants in Japan despite other automakers leaving to other places due to the rising yen, leaving the production line at the Flat Rock, MI plant, laying off workers at their U.S. headquarters, and other troubling news, all contribute to a disconcerting future.

    The company is banking on two items that will hopefully begin to turn their fortunes around. The first item is the new SKYACTIV technology which is claimed to improve fuel- efficiency while keeping the ‘zoom-zoom’ the brand is known for. The second item is Mazda’s new compact crossover, the CX-5. The new crossover will be featuring the full suite of SKYACTIV and new design language that will be appearing on future Mazdas. Can SKYACTIV deliver on its promises? Is the new CX-5 the vehicle to begin turning the tide?

    Next: Outside


    Exterior

    The CX-5 is Mazda’s first production model to use their new Kodo ("Soul of Motion") design language. Overall, the design is almost a carbon copy of the Minagi concept shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Up front, the most prominent design cue on the CX-5 is the large, five-point grille. This takes the place of the goofy smile grille that is prominent on many Mazda vehicles. Sitting on either side of the grille are a set of optional HID headlights (come as part of the $1,185 tech package). Along the side, Mazda has extended the line running along the front fenders partway into the front doors. Mazda also has a distinct character line running along near the bottom of doors, looking like a wave. The back end has a rounded shape, which is partly hidden by a spoiler sitting on top.

    gallery_10485_470_93670.png

    "What is key is that in any market we operate in, Mazda's market share is small. Our customers are not people who go with the flow, but who make their own decisions and want something distinctive. That gives me lots of freedom," said Mazda’s chief designer, Akira Tamatani when asked about the design of the new Mazda CX-5 and 6.

    We think Mazda has succeeded on making the CX-5 very distinctive from its counterparts.

    Next: Inside


    Interior

    Distinctive isn’t the first or last or any word I would use to describe the interior of the CX-5. The interior design is very plain and the use of black throughout the interior can make you feel somewhat depressed. I wished Mazda could have taken some of Kodo design cues from the exterior or use some other color in the interior. Otherwise, the interior materials are the class average. Fit and finish is excellent.

    gallery_10485_470_725105.png

    The CX-5 Touring comes with standard cloth seats. The seats provide enough adjustments to find a comfortable position, and have enough bolstering to keep you and your passengers in the seat whenever you decide to go for a run. Backseat passengers will find enough room for their head and legs. However, if you decide to take the CX-5 on a long trip, be prepared to pack a pillow or two. The seats don’t have enough padding for long distances and you will be aching when you get to your destination.

    As for standard equipment, the CX-5 Touring comes pretty loaded. You get keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 5.8-inch color display for the radio, and AM/FM/HD/CD/Aux/USB/Bluetooth audio system.

    Mazda has done something interesting with the optional navigation system on the CX-5. Like Chrysler, Mazda has turned to a navigation company, TomTom in this case, to provide maps and data. The system worked perfectly and was able to get me to wherever I needed without any problems. My only wish is that Mazda could have made the screen a little larger than 5.8-inches.

    Next: Under the Hood


    Powertrain

    Before we go into the CX-5’s powertrain, it would be a perfect time to explain what the big deal is with Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology. SKYACTIV is Mazda’s umbrella term for their new technology used in its new powertrains and weight-loss (we’ll dive into that when we get to the ride and drive section), which is aimed to improve fuel economy while keeping the zoom-zoomness. The first half of the SKYACTIV tech appeared this year in the compact Mazda3; the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder and the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic.

    Mazda put a lot of engineering effort into the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G to make sure they met their goals of performance and fuel economy. The 2.0L includes direct-injection, a special exhaust manifold which allows the engine compression to be at an impressive 13:1 ratio, and a unique piston design. Those efforts led to the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G to produce 155 HP (@ 6000 RPM) and 150 lb-ft of torque (@ 4000 RPM). A lot of work also went into the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic. When leaving from a stop, the transmission uses a torque converter to get you going very smoothly. Once the CX-5 reaches a certain speed, the torque converter locks up and the transmission switches to a clutch pack, which makes every makes every shift happen quickly.

    gallery_10485_470_783644.png

    This combination allows the CX-5 to return some impressive fuel economy numbers. The EPA puts the CX-5 Touring with front-wheel drive at 26 City/32 Highway/29 combined. All-wheel drive drops fuel economy to 25 City/31 Highway/28 combined.

    Does the SKYACTIV powertain deliver on its promises? Almost. The 2.0L SKYACTIV-G doesn’t have enough low-end torque to get you on your way from a stop as quick as you would like. There is a SKYACTIV Diesel engine coming and a rumored 2.5L SKYACTIV-G being prepared for next model year which could solve this problem. Plus, the six-speed automatic is slow to react whenever you need it needs to downshift, causing the you to either push further down on the accelerator or throwing the transmission into the manual mode and downshift yourself.

    Otherwise, the SKYACTIV powertrain is an amazing feat of engineering. Once you’re on your way, the 2.0L keeps up with traffic very well, whether in the city or on the highway. The six-speed automatic delivered smooth and quick shifts. Then there’s the fuel economy. On the first day I had the CX-5, I got 29 MPG driving on suburban roads. Not bad for a crossover I thought. The rest of the time, the CX-5 and I went to Northern Michigan for vacation where it averaged an impressive 37 MPG on rural and highway roads.

    Next: On the Road


    Ride & Drive

    We explained one half of Mazda’s SkyActiv technologies, the powertrain in the last section. Now it’s onto the other half of the SkyActiv, the weight-loss. The CX-5 is the first Mazda vehicle to be built from the ground up with this idea. The body is this first application of a new lightweight steel which allows the vehicle to shed weight while retaining rigidity of regular steel. Mazda also cut weight wherever they could, right down to the bolts used in the vehicle. This weight-loss not only helps in the fuel economy, it also makes the CX-5 more agile when driving enthusiastically.

    Along with the light-weight mantra, Mazda uses independent front and rear suspension, and an electric rack-and-pinion steering system. This combination makes the CX-5 a joy to drive on your favorite road. The suspension reduces body roll and keeps the CX-5 stable when corning. The steering is weighted just right and provides the same feel and accuracy like you would find on smaller Mazdas. When taking the CX-5 on the test loop I put all of the vehicles in for evaluation, I had to keep reminding myself; this is a crossover, not a sports car.

    gallery_10485_470_291160.png

    As for driving around to get to work or other places, the CX-5 provides a composed and well-damped ride on smooth surfaces. On rough roads, the CX-5 could use a little bit more damping as some bumps and jostles make their way inside. On the highway, there is minimal wind, road, and engine noise. Visibility is good in the front and side. Rear visibility is poor due to the large d-pillars, but Mazda does make a rear-view camera standard on the Touring model.

    Next: The Verdict


    Verdict

    Mazda deserves a pat on the back with the new CX-5 and SKYACTIV. The SKYACTIV technology almost delivers on its promise of delivering performance and fuel economy in one package. The CX-5 is one of the best driving and best looking small crossovers on the market. Combine the two together and what you get is one very good crossover.

    There are some faults to CX-5 though. The interior is very plain when compared to the exterior and the seats could use a little bit more padding. Also, the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine needs a bit more oomph on the low-end and the six-speed automatic needs to be quicker on the downshifts on certain situations.

    Mazda put a tall order on the CX-5 and SKYACTIV to begin reversing their poor fortunes. Judging from the sales charts, it looks like Mazda is starting to slowly turn around to a better time.

    gallery_10485_470_563729.png

    Disclaimer: Mazda provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gas

    Cheers

    Distinctive Exterior Styling

    Impressive Fuel Economy

    Loads of standard equipment

    Smooth and quick automatic transmission

    Handling in sporty and normal driving

    Light curb weight

    Back seat space

    Jeers

    2.0L lacking low-end oomph

    Six-speed slowness to downshift in certain situations

    Interior lacking some pizzaz

    Seats lacking in padding

    Year - 2013

    Make – Mazda

    Model – CX-5

    Trim – Touring

    Engine – SKYACTIV-G 2.0LFour-Cylinder

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-speed automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM - 155 @ 6000

    Torque @ RPM – 150 @ 4000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined – 26/32/29

    Curb Weight – 3272 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Hiroshima, Japan

    Base Price - $23,895.00

    As Tested Price - $27,005.00* (Includes $795 Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    • By William Maley
      For a time, the V6 was looked down upon in the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang because they were seen as lackluster. The engines didn’t match aggression that was being expressed by the exterior of the coupes. But rising gas prices and increasing regulations on fuel economy and emissions has the likes of GM, Ford, and FCA revisiting the idea of a V6 muscle car. We recently spent some time in a 2016 Dodge Challenger V6 to see if it is worth it.
      I will argue that the Challenger is still the meanest looking out of the three muscle cars on sale. Dodge’s designers were able to bring the design of the original Challenger into the modern era without making it look like a complete mess. The little details such as the narrow grille, quad headlights, fuel filler cap, and rectangular taillights are here and help it stand out. Our tester featured the optional Blacktop package that adds a blacked-out grille, black stripes, and a set of 20-inch wheels. The downside to bringing the original Challenger design into the modern era is poor visibility. Large rear pillars and a small glass area make it somewhat difficult to backup or making a pass. The good news is that a number of Challenger models like our SXT Plus come with a backup camera as standard and blind spot monitoring is available as an option. The Challenger’s interior hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed it back in 2014 with the SRT 392. It is still a comfortable place to sit in and controls are in easy reach for the driver thanks to the center stack being slightly angled. Still, the limited glass area does mean you will feel somewhat confined. Power for the SXT is Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, you need to step to one of the V8 engines. The V6 is quite surprising with how much performance is on offer. Step on the accelerator and the V6 moves the Challenger with surprising authority. Power comes on a smooth rate no matter what gear you find yourself in. The eight-speed automatic is one of best in the business with smart shifts. Only disappointment is the V6 doesn’t sound like it belongs in the Challenger. There isn’t that muscular roar when step on the accelerator. A new exhaust and some tweaking in the engine could fix this issue.  As for fuel economy, we got an average of 23.4 mpg. Not bad for a coupe that is rated at 19 City/30 Highway/23 Combined. One item that the Challenger is known for is its ride comfort and this hasn’t changed. Even with the optional Super Track Pak fitted to our tester, the Challenger was able to provide a cushy ride over some of Michigan’s terrible roads. Road and wind noise are kept at very low levels. Speaking of the Super Track Pak, this should be mandatory equipment on the V6 model. With firmer suspension bits, it makes the Challenger feel slightly smaller and reduces body roll around corners. However, it cannot mask the Challenger’s weight. Pushing it around a corner, the Challenger feels quite big and not as nimble the as the Chevrolet Camaro I drove afterward. The Challenger SXT Plus starts at $29,995. Add on a few options such as the Blacktop package and you’ll came to an as-tested price of $34,965, pretty good value for a muscle car. Going with the V6 option in the Challenger isn’t bad a choice. You get the looks of a muscle car and some decent performance. But as I drove the Challenger during the week, I couldn’t help but think about what if I had the V8. Six is good, but eight is even better. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Challenger
      Trim: SXT Plus
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 305 @ 6,350
      Torque @ RPM: 268 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/30/23
      Curb Weight: 3,885.2 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $26,995
      As Tested Price: $34,965 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      SXT Plus 3.6L V6 Package 21V - $3,000.00
      Driver Convenience Group - $1,095.00
      Sound Group II - $795.00
      Blacktop Package - $695.00
      Super Track Pak - $695.00
      UConnect 8.4 NAV - $695.00
    • By dfelt
      G. David Felt
      Staff Writer Alternative Energy - www.CheersandGears.com
       
      2016 J.D. Powers VDS SUVs

      JD powers has their 2016 vehicle dependability study out. VDS Study
       You can review it for all other segments, but being a dedicated SUV / CUV buyer, I was curious to know after 3 years who was top dog.
      Small SUV - Buick Encore Compact SUV - Chevrolet Equinox Compact Premium SUV - Mercedes-Benz GLK Midsize SUV - Nissan Murano Midsize Premium SUV - Lexus GX Large SUV - GMC Yukon I have to say that having 3 of the 6 segments covered by a GM product is pretty damn impressive!
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