2013 Mazda CX-5 First Impressions
by Lesley Wimbush / Auto123.com
LOS ANGELES, California – Our road skirts around the edges of the Tujunga Valley, past modest stucco houses surrounded by scrubby ranch land and twisted orchards. Quiet and unassuming it may seem, the area was once the site of the most famous alien landing of all in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie, ET the Extraterrestrial.

As we wind our way up into the San Gabriel Mountains, it's hard to believe we're only 14 miles from L.A. The road cuts through striated layers of pre-Cambrian rock, and overlooks remote canyons. Here and there are huge outcroppings of sandstone slabs.

2013 Mazda CX-5 rear 3/4 view
Replacing the aging Tribute, a particularly joyless vehicle that was little more than a rebadged Ford Escape, it introduces "Kodo" – the new design language meaning "soul of motion." (Photo: Lesley Wimbush/Auto123.com)

Surprisingly – we encounter very little traffic on the looping roads that dip and climb and often give way to rough washboard strewn with fallen rock fragments. They're the kind of roads that can either induce driving euphoria – or nausea, depending on the suspension's integrity.

We're happy to report that Mazda has somehow managed to inject its CX-5, a small people-mover, with a little of the essence that has made its MX-5 roadster one of the most joyful driving experiences on the planet. They call it "Jinba Ittai" – horse and rider as one – a term that's been flogged nearly to death, yet remains an apt description of the much-desired connection between driver and vehicle.

The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is an important vehicle for the Japanese brand. Replacing the aging Tribute, a particularly joyless vehicle that was little more than a rebadged Ford Escape, it introduces "Kodo" – the new design language meaning "soul of motion." Dynamically sculpted, Kodo replaces the Nagare theme's demented grin with a tastefully decorated 5-point grille. The sharply raked windscreen pulls the A-pillars back, increasing visibility and lending a coupe-like appearance by its shortened roofline.

It's also the first vehicle designed from scratch that incorporates all of Mazda's SKYACTIV technology. Mazda readily admits that as a small company, it doesn't have the resources to develop alternative fuel technologies. Instead, by creating ultra-efficient powertrains coupled with extremely strong, lightweight chassis, they're hoping to "provide the kind of fuel economy that most companies only get by throwing batteries at it," said Don Romano, Mazda Canada’s President.

2013 Mazda CX-5 front 3/4 view
Dynamically sculpted, Kodo replaces the Nagare theme's demented grin with a tastefully decorated 5-point grille. (Photo: Lesley Wimbush/Auto123.com)

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