in 2013 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $19,485 - $26,318
Original MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
MPG: 26 City / 35 Hwy
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2013 Mazda CX-5 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

In many cases, performance from the 2013 Mazda CX-5 exceeds test drivers’ expectations. They say it handles much like Mazda’s small sports car, the MX-5 Miata, thanks to its smooth manual transmission and tight cornering. If reviewers do complain, it’s generally about the CX-5’s engine power and overall ride quality. Some say that the engine needs more power, particularly for traveling uphill, and that the ride could be less bumpy.

  • "This CUV garners our praise because of how nicely balanced the whole package is out on the road." -- Autoblog
  • "Short take: Handles great; needs more power." -- USA Today

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 has a 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. The Mazda CX-5 has good fuel economy ratings. Models with front-wheel drive average 26/35 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission, while models with the automatic transmission average 26/32 mpg. All-wheel drive models only come with the automatic transmission and average 25/31 mpg, according to the EPA.

Compared with the horsepower of classmates like the Volkswagen Tiguan, the CX-5’s 155 horsepower is on the low side. Some test drivers say the CX-5 would benefit from some additional horsepower, while others say it only feels underpowered when it’s going up a hill. Reviewers love the performance of the Mazda CX-5’s standard six-speed manual transmission because the transitions between gears are smooth and it’s a good match for the engine. Most test drivers also like the six-speed automatic transmission, but some say it makes the CX-5 feel rather pokey.

  • "The manual shifter is exquisite, if a tad light, with pedals positioned for easy heel-and-toe downshifts. The engine feels great, and as promised, torque comes on in direct proportion to throttle tip-in, building perfectly through the mid-range." -- Automobile Magazine
  • “Smooth, refined and eager to rev, the new 155-horsepower SkyActiv-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine proved a good match for both the CX-5's standard six-speed SkyActiv-MT manual and the optional six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic. …" -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "To be fair, Mazda has done an admirable job of extracting good performance from a small, naturally aspirated engine, but we couldn't help but wish for a bit of well-timed boost on the uphill stretches." -- AutoWeek
  • "This thing works harder than a grandmother on Thanksgiving. I much prefer it to some of the lazier automatics out there, but there's no getting around the CX-5's pokiness." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

Many test drivers give the 2013 Mazda CX-5 one of the biggest compliments they can give a compact SUV: they say the CX-5’s crisp and accurate steering and strong brakes make it drive more like the MX-5 Miata, which is Mazda’s small sports car, than a compact SUV. The CX-5 has optional all-wheel drive. Generally, wheel and powertrain upgrades can impact handling and ride quality, but reviewers say models with the 19-inch wheels or AWD are nearly as agile as the models without these features.

  • "Quick, solid steering and a firm ride that is more MX-5 Miata than SUV." -- Motor Week
  • "The steering is quick and direct without being nervous. The handling is sporty and secure without being edgy. And the four-wheel disc brakes are strong and predictable." -- Edmunds    
  • "Shod with its standard 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/65 all-season tires (a 19-inch upgrade is optional), this new Mazda SUV felt agile, confident and surprisingly sure-footed, tracking true on the straights and displaying surprisingly little roll in corners. While the added weight of the all-wheel drive system does put a bit more stress on the engine, we found it had little real impact on the CX-5's dynamic characteristics." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "The CX-5 cushions out major bumps well enough, but on rougher stretches of highway, it picks up a lot of small stuff. It isn't fatiguing like the choppy Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, but the CX-5 could isolate better." -- Cars.com

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