Compact SUVs currently make up the fastest-growing segment in the auto industry, which can create a difficult decision for buyers trying to sort through the clutter. Fortunately, Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com has compiled this year’s list of its 10 best SUVs under $25,000, showcasing some of the best compact models out there. Securing the No. 2 spot was the 2014 Mazda CX-5, which was praised for its fun-to-drive factor, its fuel-efficient SKYACTIV technology and its smart-yet-stylish design.
KBB.com editors were also impressed by the CX-5′s five-seat practicality, which does nothing to diminish the crossover’s responsive handling. Despite being a relatively recent addition to the Mazda lineup, the CX-5 has already collected a number of automotive awards, including being named a 2013 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the best small SUV of 2013 by Car and Driver magazine. The CX-5 is hard to miss, with a fluid exterior that follows Mazda’s KODO, or Soul of Motion, design philosophy, but what drivers can’t see is equally important in setting the compact SUV apart from the competition.
“The Mazda CX-5 is perfect for families who want more than just a vehicle that can go from point A to point B, because it has very engaging handling despite its great fuel efficiency and spacious interior,” said Jeanette Downing, general manager of Goodwin Mazda, a Brunswick, Maine Mazda dealer. “With the CX-5, it is easy to forget you’re driving an SUV that has more than 34 cubic feet of space in the back, or about 65 cubic feet just by pressing a button and folding the back seat.”
Mazda’s SKYACTIV engineering is instrumental to the CX-5′s ability to provide impressive performance and efficiency regardless of all that cargo space. SKYACTIV technology focuses on improved engine compression ratios, transmission optimization and lightweight-yet-rigid frames, which combine to boost responsiveness while keeping fuel consumption to a minimum. The CX-5 was the first vehicle in Mazda’s lineup to incorporate the complete suite of SKYACTIV elements, and it serves as a solid example of how integrative vehicle design can produce excellent results after being implemented from the ground up.
When equipped with the standard 155-horsepower 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G engine, the Mazda CX-5 returns up to 35 mpg on the highway, making it the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market during freeway driving. SKYACTIV technology allows the powerplant to consume 15 percent less fuel than Mazda’s previous MZR 2.0-liter engine. For the 2014 model year, buyers can also now upgrade to a new 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G unit that produces 184 horsepower while still netting up to 32 mpg on the highway.
“The Mazda CX-5 offers hybrid-like efficiency without the inflated price tag associated with a gas-electric powertrain, and yet, there is no mistaking it for a hybrid once you step down on the pedal,” Downing added. “If you also consider the standard Dynamic Stability Control and traction control, as well as the optional all-wheel-drive system, then you’re getting all-weather capability without having to pay the extra fuel costs that come with other capable SUVs.”
Mazda’s all-new CX-5 crossover has earned a lot of attention on the sales floor, quickly becoming the brand’s best-selling utility vehicle, and now, it has earned the approval of dozens of industry experts as well. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 has been named a finalist for the 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year award, which honors the truck or SUV that has set the most impressive new benchmarks in its class.
The North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year awards are now in their 20th year, and the accolades are unique in that they are not determined by any one media outlet. Instead, a jury of no more than 50 automotive journalists from Canada and the United States vote for their favorite all-new or substantially changed vehicles. Along with the Ford C-MAX and Ram 1500, the Mazda CX-5 emerged from a group of 10 nominees as a Truck/Utility of the Year finalist, and the winner will be announced on Jan. 14 at the Detroit Auto Show following a second round of voting.
“Mazda won the North American Truck of the Year award in 2008 with its other crossover, the CX-9, but a win for the CX-5 would be even more satisfying because it’s a completely new breed in its segment,” said Jeanette Downing, general manager of Goodwin Mazda, a Brunswick, Maine Mazda dealer. “The CX-5 is built from the ground up with lightweight parts and smart engineering, giving it a unique mix of versatility, fuel efficiency and performance.”
It was the performance of another Mazda, the 2013 MX-5 Miata, that recently landed the sports car on Car and Driver magazine’s annual 10Best Cars list for the eighth-straight year and 14th time overall. Beyond its affordable price, editors praised the MX-5 Miata for its balanced chassis and precisely tuned controls, which allow the vehicle to perform far above what its modest power output might suggest.
Car and Driver selected this year’s 10Best Cars from all-new or significantly updated 2013 models, returning 2012 winners and vehicles that were not available for testing for last year’s competition. Cars also had to be scheduled to be on sale in January 2013 with a base price of less than $80,000. After testing the group across more than 15,000 miles in total, editors cast their votes for what they considered the very best vehicles of the year.
The MX-5 Miata received a mild facelift for the 2013 model year, donning a sharper five-point grille and larger fog-lamp surrounds that add a touch more aggression to the best-selling two-seat roadster ever. Acceleration still comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 167 horsepower, which is channeled to the rear wheels through either a six-speed automatic transmission or one of two manual gearboxes, including a five-speed and a six-speed.
“Since 1989, the Mazda Miata has been the standard bearer for affordable, grin-inducing performance,” Downing noted. “There is nothing else in the same price range that can come close to matching the experience of driving the Miata, which is why the car continues to earn fans and accolades from industry experts.”
The SEMA show in Las Vegas is a great time for automakers to trot out their favorite vehicles with custom paint jobs, modified engines and impressive accessories, and Mazda is no exception. The 2013 Mazda CX-5, which was redesigned with Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design language, showed three new sides at SEMA this year, and we can’t decide which one we like the most!
First up is the Mazda CX-5 Urban. At first glance, it looks like this is just a CX-5 in matte-black paint, but a closer look reveals multidimensional shadows created by several shades of black painted in triangles to complement and highlight every curvature of the new KODO – Soul of Motion design. No two triangles in the same shade of black touch each other, and thin pinstripes in Ore accent select sections. A dual exhaust and 22-inch matte black wheels complete the aggressive look.
Second is the Mazda CX-5 180, which celebrates the beauty of Southern California and its wide array of sporting activities. A stylized map of Big Bear Lake on the driver’s side and Point Dume on the passenger side highlights the snowboarding and surfing hot spots, while Burton Cheetah snowboards and a Rusty surfboard ensure you’re always ready to get out and play. The 180 can go anywhere, thanks to all-wheel drive and custom 20-inch wheels. Inside, leather seating provides a durable yet comfortable place to rest on the way home.
Finally, the CX-5 Dempsey, named for actor and racecar driver Patrick Dempsey, continues the sporting theme with a Specialized Bicycle S-Works Tarmac road bike and a rooftop cargo box, so this CX-5 is ready to hit the road, whether you’re facing traffic in the city or headed out to the trails. A European-specification 2.2-liter diesel engine powers the all-wheel-drive vehicle, while Anatomy Gray and matte Black Mica exterior paint ensure you won’t get lost in a crowd.
Which CX-5 concept would you most like to drive? This versatile vehicle is available at our Maine Mazda dealership now, so give us a call to schedule a test-drive today!