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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
      Most luxury SUVs will never go fully off-road. The closest they’ll ever get is driving down a gravel road. But that doesn’t mean some automakers aren’t filling them with the latest off-road for that one person who decides to. Case in point is the LX 570. Lexus’ variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser has been updated inside and out to try and draw buyers away from the usual suspects in the class.
      For 2016, Lexus has softened the LX’s boxy-shape with some rounded edges and more imposing fenders. The front grille has grown in size to match other Lexus vehicles, though to our eyes it looks more like the head from a Cylon in the 1980’s Battlestar Galactica tv show. The rear features new taillights and a reshaped tailgate. The interior has somehow become more opulent since the last LX we drove. A new dash design features real wood trim and more soft-touch materials. Our tester featured leather upholstery that can be described as red-orange. At first, I thought it was a bit much. But over the week I grew to like the color as it adds some personality. Sitting in either the front or second-row seats of the LX is a pleasant experience. There is plenty of head and legroom for both rows, along with heat. Front seats also get ventilation as standard. The third-row seat is a bit of joke. Getting back there in the first place is quite difficult due to the small gap when you move the second-row forward. Once back there, you find legroom is almost negligible. Finally, the way the third row folds up by side walls and not into the floor hampers cargo space - only offering 41 cubic feet. Lexus’ Remote Touch interface has arrived in the LX this year with a gargantuan 12.3-inch screen sitting on top of the dash. On the plus side, the screen is vibrant and easy to read. The negative is the remote touch controller as you’ll find yourself choosing the wrong function because the controller is very sensitive to inputs. Power comes from 5.7L V8 with 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive system. On paper, the V8 should move the LX 570 with no issue. But a curb weight of 6,000 pounds negates this. Performance can be described as ho-hum as it takes a few ticks longer to get up to speed. At least the eight-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator and quick to respond when you stab the throttle. The LX 570 is chock full of clever off-road tech such as crawl control, hill start assist, 360-degree camera system, and multi-terrain select system that optimizes various parts of the powertrain and four-wheel drive system. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to put any of these to the test. No matter the condition of the road, the LX 570 provides a smooth and relaxing ride. Impressive when you consider the LX is riding on a set of 21-inch wheels. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Lexus added a set of adaptive dampers for the 2016 LX and you can adjust the firmness via a knob in the center console - Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The dampers do help reduce body roll in corners, giving you a little bit more confidence. Steering is what you would expect in an SUV, light and numb. This makes the LX a bit cumbersome to move in certain places such as a parking lot. Compared to the last LX 570 we drove, the 2016 model has gone up in price. Base price now stands at $88,880 and our as-tested price comes in at $96,905. This one feels a bit a more worth of price tag that Lexus is asking for, but I still think a Cadillac Escalade or Range Rover are slightly better in terms of value. If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley or the Rocky Mountains and want something that can you there and back, along with providing all of the luxuries, look no further than the LX. Otherwise, there are a number of other luxury SUVs that make more sense if you’re planning to stay on the pavement. Year: 2016
      Make: Lexus
      Model: LX 570
      Trim: N/A
      Engine: 5.7L 32-Valve, DOHC Dual VVT-i V8
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 383 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 403 @ 3,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/18/15
      Curb Weight: 6,000 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Aichi, Japn
      Base Price: $88,880
      As Tested Price: $96,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Mark Levinson Audio System - $2,150.00
      Dual-Screen DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System - $2,005.00
      Luxury Package - $1,190.00
      Heads-Up Display - $900.00
      Cargo Mat, Net, Wheel Locks, & Key Glove - $250.00
      All-Weather Floor Mats - $165.00
      Heated Black Shimamoku Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00
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