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September 17, 2013

Review: 2013 Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport

The crossover utility vehicle or crossover for short is a segment that came about by addressing the needs of the customers who wanted the perks of a sports utility vehicle or SUV together with car-like comfort. Indeed, the modern day automotive industry is a buyer’s market. Gone are the days when consumers were limited to product A, product B, and product C – take it or leave it. Consumers now know what they want, buy what they want, and clamor for what they want. Mazda is one maker who actually listens to their customers and the CX-5 is proof of that.

It’s quite plain to see why the Mazda CX-5 can easily capture the heart of any buyer. The CX-5 has been around for some time, but the exterior shape, using Mazda’s latest design language—“KODO – Soul of Motion” remains refreshing and distinctive. The aggressive trapezoidal grille upfront will characterize the company’s new family look, is a welcome change. The CX-5 has a more sports-car like profile due to the strong and confident front-end with a long hood and windshield pillars set further back than other crossovers. The subtle wings that extend to the headlamps, the prominent shoulder line at the side, and the short overhangs give off a bold and stylish flair. In fact, Mazda is one of the most slippery crossovers around with a co-efficient of drag at just 0.33. Differences with the entry-level (FWD) and this range-topping model (AWD) are rather subtle, with only the 225/55R19 wheel and alloy combo being the only noticeable exterior difference.

The CX-5’s interior aesthetics is all about calmness, business-like functionality, and of course, attractiveness. Mazda carefully designed the interior to ensure that it’s not overdesigned as that of their rivals but remains well-equipped. It has a European-inspired layout (read: BMW) with the horizontal layout of the controls and the orange lighting on the controls. The instrument cluster reflects the Zen minimalist styling with white needles and numerals on a black, textured background. There’s a wealth of south-touch materials throughout the dashboard and door panels, providing an elegant and refined feel. There are still some hard plastics in the CX-5’s interior, but they’re limited to areas which aren’t normally touched, so it’s no big deal (they still scratch easily, though).

Ergonomically, the CX-5’s various controls and screens are easy to read and have been logically laid out. All the controls can be operated in a tactile manner and clicks with crispness and solidity. The seating is more sedan-like rather than SUV and this appeals to those who want a sportier experience. That said, the seats, whether front or back, aren’t as comfortable as they look. The front seats lack comfortable width and don’t offer the right amount of hip and bum support resulting in a painful rear-end especially on journeys longer than three hours. Those in the back don’t fare any better with a seat cushion that’s a tad too short for long distance comfort. In terms of space, the CX-5 lies on the tighter end of the compact crossover spectrum with an interior that’s “just right” as opposed to “class-leading” or even “comfortable”. The same can be said with the luggage space.

What the CX-5 lacks in space and seat comfort, it more than makes up for it with luxury, convenience, and smart features. While the FWD model was criticized for its lack of toys, the AWD model comes in with automatic swiveling HID headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and daytime running lights. Inside, it comes with leather seats, power adjustable driver’s seat, moon roof, and a 9-speaker Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system with full Apple iPod integration and Bluetooth hands-free with voice command. On the subject of the Bose sound system though, it’s great just in name as the aural experience is simply ordinary. And like the Mazda6, the iPod control is finicky at best.

Mazda is touting the CX-5 as an automotive revolution that proves innovative thinking can overcome compromise and turn the limits of imagination into reality. At the heart of this philosophy is SkyActiv—an encompassing set of technology which improves fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions without compromising on driving dynamics. Underneath the CX-5 AWD is a 2.5-liter version of the SkyActiv-G engine that churns out 184 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. However, don’t mistake this car as a corner carving sports car; it isn’t. Rather, the extra displacement makes it more like a grand tourer with gobs of torque and more importantly, some extra ponies for passing power needed. It feels quicker than its 8-second 0-100 km/h time would suggest, but oddly the CX-5 doesn’t return magical fuel efficiency figures. During this test, it managed just 8.13 km/L in the city and 13.16 km/L on the highway—that’s compared to 8.19 km/L on the Subaru Forester XT which has a 56 horsepower advantage while not having an idle start/stop feature.

Touting a similar 6-speed automatic transmission as the Mazda6, the CX-5 doesn’t come with paddle shifters (again, highlighting it more as a grand tourer as opposed to a sports sedan), but the shifts are imperceptible and smooth. Like the Mazda6, the CX-5 also has the accelerator switch at the end of pedal travel that produces an instantaneous downshift and acceleration, but it isn’t as immediate or powerful as the Mazda6’s. The CX-5 too, could benefit from beefier brakes.

The beautifully packaged SkyActiv chassis is lightweight yet rigid producing a firm but comfortable ride despite the relatively low-profile 55-series 19-inch tires. The body certainly feels solid and on the twisty roads, the CX-5 remains stable and predictable. The steering features a quicker ratio than most crossovers and as a result, feels sharp and intuitive. The all-wheel drive system features an Active Torque Split, a system that divides power between the front and rear wheels as needed. It’s largely idiot-proof and transparent, but on tighter roads or foul weather, there’s a sensation of slippage on the front wheels before power is sent back to the rears. As a whole though, the CX-5 is a cohesively designed crossover that should be driven with passion. Everything feels integrated—from the cornering to accelerating to braking. It has confident road holding, responsive steering, and ample body control.

Mazda has also upped the CX-5’s safety equipment a notch above the competition. Aside from the usual airbags, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brakeforce distribution, the CX-5 AWD also has Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with Traction Control System (TCS), a Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, and a Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). And get this, the CX-5 AWD even has a Lane Departure Warning system which uses a camera mounted near the rear view mirror to analyze and warn the driver if he or she is drifting out of lane.

It’s amazing how Mazda is able to deliver what the customers wanted in the CX-5 – a crossover that truly engages the driver and is fun-to-drive, bold and stylish, and a class-leading combination of performance and economy. Though it’s not perfect (it could use better seats and a larger interior for instance), but it’s nonetheless a great engineer feat and a crossover with minimal compromise. With the Mazda CX-5’s outstanding good looks and superb driver engagement, it’s no surprise that it can easily charm its way into the hearts of many enthusiasts.

2013 Mazda CX-5 2.5 Sport
Ownership 2.5 AWD Sport
Year Introduced 2013
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration NA
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline 4
BHP @ rpm 188 @ 5,700
Nm @ rpm 250 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Unleaded / 93~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,540
Width (mm) 1,840
Height (mm) 1,670
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,586
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires 225/55R19
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (Driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 9
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Does AWD Sport come with a manual version aside from the automatic, like the ones abroad?

    1. Unfortunately, no. You can opt to get the CX-5 2.0 FWD in MT though.

  2. Even with Skyactive Mazda cx - 5 only managed to get around 8 km/l..LOL. Thanks a lot Car, I think your the most realistic when it comes to reviews compared to topgear ph

    1. Well that's pretty good compared to other 4x4 2.5L CUVs like the CRV and the RAV4. Those cars will average 6.5-7 km/L more or less. The forester XT is the exception tho it is still powered by a smaller 2.0L engine and the price is around 200k more.

    2. You're the LOL. Auto**dustriya reviewed the Forester XT and guess what they got? Quote:
      "In everyday (read: medium) traffic that figure drops down to 6.2 km/l, whereas the previous model managed just 5 km/l under similar conditions."

      The CR-V 2.0L got less than 7 km/L in their review. So you laughing at "8 km/L only" just goes to show that you're amazingly ignorant of real-world FC results.

  3. I think that the sky-activ made the hype for ythe Cx-5. Customers or car-buyers are opting for the sky-activ engine because of its start/stop idle feature. However, the results from Uly's test yield to a not-so-compelling 8.13 km/l FC.

    1. Isa ka pa? Not so compelling compared to what?


      Auto**dustriya reviewed the Forester XT and guess what they got? Quote:
      "In everyday (read: medium) traffic that figure drops down to 6.2 km/l, whereas the previous model managed just 5 km/l under similar conditions."

      The CR-V 2.0L got less than 7 km/L in their review. So you laughing at "8 km/L only" just goes to show that you're amazingly ignorant of real-world FC results.

  4. Hi Ulysses, can the cx-5 run on regular gasoline? Thanks!

  5. Yes it can. However, Mazda recommends 95 octane fuel for its Skyactiv-equipped engines.

  6. Replies
    1. CX-5. Better bang-for-the-buck, better *real-world* FC, better handling, lighter & more agile body, no turbo lag, CVTs in the Subaru models are noisy (ALL foreign reviewers pointed it out, but amazingly, no local reviewer had the nerve to mention it, proving my contention that the local motoring journalists are all Subaru fanbois). Also, as has been proven in CVTs used by other manufacturers like Honda, they are very prone to slip & have this weird "sliding clutch" feel in start&stop driving. Depending on how the tranny is programmed, it can even have this scary "accelerating-while-not-even-touching-anything" feel that new owners would need to get used to (ask previous-gen Honda City CVT owners). Reliability is also an issue with CVTs (again, ask Honda City CVT owners).

  7. hi Ulysses,

    can u also review the "Kodo" Mazda CX - 9.

    thnx and more power!

  8. MAZDA CX5 AWD has an uncomfortable rear seat that does not recline like the HONDA CRV, even a slight recline is very helpful as one can feel very relax with it

  9. yes, indeed ! you are correct. i was about to buy the CX5, then i noticed two issues : the uncomfortable rear seat that does not recline ( even a little ) and the push button start key fab that does not have a sensor like that of other cars with push start button wherein you do not need to open the door with the key, a sensor located on the door handle sensing the arrival of the key fab will enable you to open the door

  10. Yes, you are correct on those 2 issues and if I may add, doors also don't auto lock, there's no dedicated door lock button, and the horn sounds lousy.

    On the plus side, the CX-5 2.5 AWD is priced considerably less for more value. It also has several useful features the competition doesn't like...
    - 8 point parking sensors (some luxury cars even have 6 points only)
    - a big screen to play the reverse camera
    - i-stop
    - blind spot monitoring system
    - adaptive HID headlamps
    - tire pressure monitoring system
    - Bose sound system

    Including discounts, insurance, Youjin maintenance plan, freebies, etc., the CX-5 2.5 4x4 costs about 300k less than the Forester XT and almost 400k vs the RAV4 4x4.

  11. hi Ulysses,

    can we expect a 2.5 FWD version in Phl? our ASEAN neighbors have it. Pleased to hear. Thanks


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