By David Colman
Hypes: Small But Spacious, Unexpected Standard Features
Gripes: Slippery Steering Wheel Rim, Puny Power Output
Mazda introduced this replacement for their discontinued Tribute model back in April of 2012, making the CX-5 one of the first 2013 model year offerings to debut. This petite crossover SUV is based on the Mazda 3 platform, with an additional 2.4 inches spliced into its 106.1 inch wheelbase. But its length of 178.1 inches is actually 2 inches shorter than the Mazda 3. For such a short, compact SUV, the CX-5 is surprisingly efficient at accommodating bulky loads. I had no difficulty hoisting my mountain bike into the spacious rear cargo area created when by flattening the 40/20/40 folding rear seats. The hatchback loading floor is low enough to preclude hernias, and rear door actuation light enough to make closure pleasurable rather than painful.
With the rear seat backs raised, aft passengers will find themselves with just enough leg and headroom to make short trips acceptable. The rear of a CX-5, however, will not be your first choice for a 5 hour jaunt down Interstate 5. For that undertaking, you’ll want to sit up front, where Mazda has invested considerable attention to comfort and detail. For example, how many vehicles in this base price range ($28,595) offer heated driver and passenger seats as standard fitment? A 5.8 inch color display screen with rear facing camera is also part of the CX-5’s basic architecture. Likewise, a deafeningly loud Bose 9 speaker AM/FM/MP3/CD/SAT receiver is part of the base outfit here. The only extra cost option you might want to consider is the bargain-priced ($1,325) Grand Touring Tech Package, which not only adds Navigation to the infotainment mix, but also throws in adaptive, self-leveling headlights, a burglar alarm, and an advanced keyless entry system that unlocks the vehicle as you approach it. This GT Technology package is definitely prime value for the money.