9. October 2012
If you are in the market for a compact crossover sport utility vehicle, then the biggest mistake you can make is not considering the Mazda CX-5. Although the number of Mazda dealers in the U.S., some 640, is but a fraction of its competitors, go find one. Check this vehicle out. Drive it. Look at the exterior design. Look at the interior. Look at the numbers. Really look at the numbers.
You will be surprised.
You won’t be disappointed.
This vehicle includes the elements of Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology.
A bit of a digression. I was recently among a group of people who write about the auto industry. We were at a conference. In the press room off the main hallway. And one of the reporters kept saying to himself but at a volume all could hear, “SKYACTIV Technology! SKYACTIV Technology! What the hell is SKYACTIV Technology?!” And he went on to mutter about his lack of understanding of the subject and how he was mystified by the name.
Arguably, it may not be the best name in the world. But the Mazda engineering team gets full marks for having the cleverness and the capability to provide the structure and the powertrain necessary to provide fuel efficiency (presumably, this is the “sky” part of the word, as in clean, blue skies by burning less gas) while maintaining more than a modicum of pep and power when one gets on the throttle (the “activ[e]” part of it.
Compared with Mazda’s own MZR 2.0-liter engine, which is no low-performer, the 2.0-liter engine used in the CX-5 is 10% lighter, has greater torque, provides better fuel economy, and produces fewer emissions. It has a 13:1 compression ratio, which is said to be the world’s highest for a mass-produced car. To get this, which helps with the fuel efficiency, it was necessary not only to redesign things like the pistons, but to have a new exhaust cycle for the engine.
The car as driven has a new six-speed automatic transmission. (There is also a new six-speed manual). This compact, light system operates like a dual-clutch transmission when the car is rolling at speeds above those characteristic of a parking lot; this means that it provides quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts. Pronto. No lag. No waste. And this helps boost the vehicle’s fuel efficiency by as much as 7%.
So that’s the SKYACTIV-G engine. And the SKYACTIV-Drive transmission. There is the SKYACTIV-Chassis, where there is a front strut suspension and a multi-link setup in the rear, where all of the elements have been made light but robust, and the tuning is made so that the driver is involved in steering and braking the vehicle, active, not isolated.
There is the SKYACTIV-Body, which essentially means light but strong. The body is 61% high-tensile steel. They even use 1,800-MPa ultra-high-strength steel for the rear bumper beams and claim to be the first to do it. What this means is that the beams are lighter by 10.6 lb. compared to what they otherwise might have been yet 20% stronger. Overall, the CX-5 body is 8% lighter than Mazda’s own comparable bodies.
“SKYACTIV Technology! SKYACTIV Technology! Why the hell wouldn’t you want a vehicle with SKYACTIV Technology?!”
This is a CUV. A nicely appointed CUV—with the stuff like pushbutton start and USB connectivity and seats that are comfortable and supportive. A vehicle with seriously sculpted sheet metal that is stylish without being outré. A CUV that won’t set land speed records, but which has more than enough power to get after it on the freeway ramp, which is where most compact CUVs seem to be wanting (let’s face it: this class of vehicle is one where the ramp is probably where the throttle is pushed the most, so that’s what really matters). A CUV that doesn’t isolate, but which doesn’t make you feel every pothole in the road (and around the Detroit metro, road surfaces are like proving grounds).
So while you’ll see more CUVs from other OEMs, you really ought to go look for this one if you’re at all interested in this category of vehicles—and it seems that a whole lot of people are.
Engine: 2.0-liter, DOHC, four cylinder
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 155 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 150 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length: 178.7 in.
Width: 72.4 in.
Height: 65.7 in.
MSRP (version driven sans delivery): $28,295
EPA: 25/31/28 mpg city/highway/combined