Mazda introduces sustainable zoom-zoom with its new CX-5 SUV


Mazda says its new CX-5 is the first of its vehicles to embody kodo, with a jinba ittai sensibility that incorporates karakuri. What does that mean? The next-generation compact SUV unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show on Wednesday is blazing a new trail for the Japanese auto maker with a fuel-efficient and stylish all-wheel-drive man wagon.

Tweaking the infamous Mazda tagline, the CX-5 isn’t just zoom-zoom. It’s sustainable zoom-zoom -- more efficient, more fun and more environmentally friendly, the company says.

To achieve this sort of triple bottom line, the CX-5 marks the full rollout of Mazda’s Skyactiv Technology, which was introduced in with a re-engineered engine and transmission in the 2012 Mazda3 and, on the CX-5 and in future models, includes re-engineered engines, transmissions, bodies and chassis designs.


The five-seat CX-5 is powered with a Skyactiv-G 2-liter gasoline engine that boasts a 13-to-1 compression ratio -- the highest ever for a mass-produced SUV. The six-speed transmission can be had as an automatic, which Mazda says combines the advantages of continuously variable, dual-clutch and conventional automatic transmissions for quicker shifting, or as a manual, which the company likens to the light, crisp shifting characteristics of its MX-5 Miata. Both versions are targeted at 26 mpg city. The automatic and manual are targeted at 32 and 33 mpg highway, respectively.

Mazda is paying particular attention to lightweighting with its 2013 CX-5, in an effort to improve fuel efficiency as well as driving dynamics. The CX-5 is debuting a new lightweight all-wheel drive system for Mazda, which is also employing a lighter, stiffer suspension, new suspension geometry and automatically adjustable steering feedback to improve the car’s agility and responsiveness.

The downside of lightweighting can be safety compromises, so to counteract that negative side effect, the body of the CX-5 incorporates a greater percentage of high-tensile steel than other Mazda models, as well as the first-ever automotive use of ultra-high-tensile steel in the car’s bumpers.

With its introduction of the CX-5, Mazda hopes to capitalize on the expanding and increasingly competitive compact SUV market, which grew almost 18% last year. The company’s bread and butter has long been its Mazda3, an economical, yet attractive, five-seater available as both a sedan and hatchback. But it anticipates the CX-5 will join the Mazda3 at the top of its sales heap, especially among budget-minded -- yet uncompromising -- consumers who desire more space and better fuel economy in a package that’s also more attractive and fun to drive than a minivan.

That’s where the jinba ittai, kodo and karakuri come in. The CX-5 is designed with “a feeling of oneness,” to make the driver feel more closely linked with the car through predictable, synchronized and harmonized driver inputs and car responses, Mazda says. That performance is characterized through a “soul of motion” design that, on its exterior, conveys both fluidity and strength, as expressed through muscular side panels and a new “signature wing” grille. And the interior space, trimmed in satin chrome and soft materials, is configured with mechanical “tricks,” such as a fold-flat rear seat that splits 40/20/40 -- a first for the segment. Folding the rear seat gives the car 65.4 cubic feet of cargo space.

The CX-5 incorporates a new 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system into the top center of its dash, and includes Bluetooth, iPod audio playback and HD radio standard, all of which play through a nine-speaker Bose stereo system. Mazda has also partnered with TomTom for the first time in North America, offering built-in navigation as an option.

The Mazda CX-5 will be launched worldwide in early 2012.

2013 Mazda CX-5
Available: Early 2012
Base price: Not yet announced
Powertrain: Direct injection, Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or manual
Horsepower: 155 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 150 lb.-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Fuel economy (city/highway): 26/32 (automatic), 26/33 (manual)