Highlight: This is Mazda’s first vehicle to incorporate the brand’s signature SKYACTIV technology, which helps to improve fuel economy, while combining both power and torque.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $30,415 (Base Model starts at $21,790)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: air bags (front, side and rear); ABS; traction control; a tire pressure monitoring system; a hill launch assist system; and daytime running lights

Standard Equipment: 17-inch wheels; a roof spoiler; automatic headlight shut-off; cruise control; cloth seats; exterior temperature display gauge; keyless entry; a push-button starter; a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; and automatic speed sensitive door locks

Standard Audio: a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 player

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty:  3 years or 36,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Available

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder/155-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 26-city/35-hwy

Trim Levels:

Sport
Touring
Grand Touring

What’s New: The five-passenger CX-5 is all-new to the Mazda family. This is Mazda’s entry-level crossover. And the CX-5 is the first Mazda to wear the brand’s new corporate grille.

Pros: Mazda’s latest entry, the CX-5, is a worthy contender in the compact crossover segment. The CX-5 is roomy, fuel-efficient and provides great handling for an entry-level compact crossover. There is not another vehicle in this segment that offers this fun-to-drive experience.

Moreover, consumers in the market for a CX-5 have a choice of opting for a front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration, in addition to a variety of trim levels to meet their lifestyle. Buyers in the market for this spunky crossover can also opt for cloth seats in the lower trim levels, while navigating to a power driver’s seat, leather seats, heated front seats, a rear camera, a blind-spot lane-change system, a sunroof, 19-inch wheels and a 9-speaker Bose audio system in the higher trims.

Cons: Mazda engineers should consider adding an optional peppier engine for the stylish, well-built CX-5. Mazda is known for building spirited vehicles. The all-new CX-5 lacked that, with its sluggish 155-hp engine.

Furthermore, the engineers decided to incorporate a TomTom navigation system, as opposed to using another supplier to assist them with developing a system. In our eyes, that just isn’t acceptable, especially when being compared to high-tech systems being offered by both GM and Ford.

The Verdict: This well-built Mazda CX-5 is a spirited, easy to maneuver, fun-to-drive, compact crossover. The vehicle doesn’t disappoint. It provides the performance-oriented road manners we’ve come to expect from the Mazda brand even with the 155-hp engine. As a side note, a peppier engine will be available in the 2014 model.

Overall in the entry-level, compact crossover segment, there isn’t another vehicle that drives or handles like the all-new CX-5. Conversely, consumers seeking more high-tech, engaging interior features should seek out the CX-5 competitors. With those additional features offered by the competitors, consumers should also expect to pay a higher price tag, too!

Competition:  Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Kia Rio and VW Tiguan

Reviewer’s Background:

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com.  Follow him twitter/JeffCars.

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