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And it Fits in the Garage

The 2012 Mazda CX-5

Often times, especially driving through the narrower streets of the city, I pass some large—nay, huge SUV and wonder if the driver is able to park it in their older, Depression-era garage. Or even fit it in the driveway between the houses.

These are things that weren’t on the minds of designers as they drew larger and larger vehicles, which would generate “largerer and largerer” profits. This all worked up to a point. The point being car loans the size of home mortgages, and now (again) gas prices the size of grocery budgets.

And you know what? As these things came to pass, many Hugemobile drivers decided they didn’t really need to drive the Queen Mary down to 7-Eleven for the day’s Big Gulp. But, and here’s the thing, they’d become used to the view out the window of their SUV. And why not? Given the choice of peering out the window of your smallish car, or having a commanding view of the road (or maybe even better—being able to see when pulling out of a mall parking spot), most would choose the better view.

Especially if better gas mileage and a more sensible sticker price figure into the mix.

Which brings us to this week’s drive. The new 2013 Mazda CX-5. For the past few years, up through the 2011 model year, Mazda had been content with selling a badge-engineered version of Ford’s Escape as its entry into the small SUV category. They’ve now developed a similarly-sized crossover which is a much more efficient and fun-to-drive vehicle. For comparison’s sake, the 2013 CX-5 front wheel-drive model has a starting price of $20,695 and is EPA-rated at 26/35 miles per gallon city/highway; the 2012 Ford Escape front wheel-drive has a starting price of $21,440 with ratings of 23/28.

The Escape also has a basic design which goes back 11 years. (There is a new Escape, seen at the recent Buffalo Auto Show, which will be available later this year.)

The CX-5 styling is in line with other Mazdas—luckily with the much smaller “smiley-face grille,” one that’s more appealing than those “Joker-faced” versions on the Mazda2, 3, and 5 models. Views from the side and the rear (I think) are much more favorable than the Mazda 5, or their CX-7 (which costs more and has lower EPA numbers than the CX-5). The CX-5 interior, while maybe not winning any awards, is a pleasant enough place to be, and a comfortable-enough environment on either short or (I’d imagine) long trips. All of the controls are logically placed and easy to reach and understand. I applaud Mazda for resisting the urge to place the HVAC controls within the flat screen used for the audio system display. Instead there are conventional fan and temperature control knobs which are not only more intuitive to use, but can be mastered without taking your eyes off the road—something difficult to do when trying to find the fan control on a flat touch-screen.

The seating is comfortable, with ample leg and head room, even with the sunroof in place, as on my test car. And what a pleasure it was to throw open the sliding sunscreen and let in the overcastness of the day on my visit to Northtown Mazda, where sales consultant Mike Colangelo not only helped show me the car, but tried to help me find my wallet at the end of the drive. A wallet which was eventually found still at home in the pocket of the pants I wore earlier in the day. It ain’t easy to age gracefully!

Overall I have to give the new CX-5 high marks. A great vehicle with some of the better points of an SUV, mixed with the drivability (and livability) of a regular-sized car.

More info at

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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