GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Competing in a tough class, Mazda's CX-5 is up to it.

Exterior styling for people who don't want a compact SUV
 Doesn't Mazda's trademarked word SKYACTIV sound like something that connects you wirelessly to the universe?  It does to me.  When I hear the word or see it in print I immediately see myself sending and receiving messages from outer space.  But that's me:  I'm the playwright who wrote a musical about Microbes from Mars who hurtle to earth to steal Hollywood DNA and bring it back to Mars.
In reality SKYACTIV has nothing to do with interconnectivity or Mars.  It's funny that Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda North America, in a talk he gave, goes to lengths to tell us what SKYACTIV isn't.  Mazda needs to be clear about what it is because it has to do with Mazda's greatly improved ability to deliver Zoom-Zoom, which Mazda now calls sustainable Zoom-Zoom.   If you have experienced Zoom-Zoom, you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, you must, especially now that it's sustainable.
What is it? SKYACTIV is Mazda's let's-tweak-everything-and-make-it-more-zoom-zoom technology that combines engine, transmission, exhaust, body, steering and suspension.   In semi-layman's terms (semi because engineers are involved).  SKYACTIV combines a more fuel effiicient and lighter engine, with a new transmission and a cleaner exhaust system.  The SKYACTIV body is comprised of lighter stronger steel. They shaved 4.4 pounds off the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making it 10 percent lighter than the previous one.  They added multi-hole direct fuel injectors, along with specially developed piston cavity shapes that ensure a shorter combustion time and suppress the impact on power and torque from engine knocking. Pumping loss also is decreased by employing dual sequential valve timing (S-VT).  (I told you it was "sort of" layman's terms.)  The net is that the engine has more torque, with a faster response time and a sportier ride, uses less fuel and lowers emissions without sacrificing performance.
A subtle, comfortable interior.
Steering and braking controls are very responsive and keep the driver engaged.  This is the new engineering that will be used in all new Mazda vehicles from here on out. 

The CX-5 competes with the best selling Honda CR-V which I drove last weekend and the Toyota RAV-4 which I drove in May.  Both of these vehicles delivered top performance in every way so the competition is stiff for a company that doesn't have the distribution network or the corporate heft of Toyota or Honda.

The CX-5 is powered by the SKYACTIV 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which is rated at 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque and can be combined with either a six-speed automatic or an available six-speed manual transmission on the front-drive CX-5There's all-wheel-drive CX-5 Grand Touring  also available.
Optional navi is easy to read.

EPA fuel economy for the CX-5 is 26 city/35 highway mpg for the front-wheel-drive model with the six-speed manual. The front-drive automatic  is estimated at 26 city/32 highway mpg, and an all-wheel-drive CX-5 (available only with a six-speed automatic) should get  earn 25 city/31 highway mpg.  Mazda says there's a diesel coming.  Base prices runs $21,790 - $29,390.
Being inside the CX-5 feels roomy and comfortable.  There's plenty of storage space.  if rear seat room is of concern to you as an owner, know that rear leg room is a little tight .  There's a standard USB port and optional Bluetooth and navigation, but Mazda hasn't gone overboard to enable drivers to connect--thank you Mazda for that.  As a class these vehicles can be noisy compared to other types of vehicles but I did not notice this as particularly annoying. 
Mazdas all have handsome interiors with a focus on simplicity--the designers, shall we say, have constraint, which, if we are holding onto our vehicles for longer periods of time, is a good thing.  We're not going to get tired of the interior because it doesn't overwhelm.  What is notable about this car in a compact SUV category is that is is fun to drive.  You're not going to ever get tired of that--go Zoom-Zoom.

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