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2013 Mazda CX-5: Can it Replace a Sports Car?

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2013 Mazda CX-5

author photo by Kristopher Affayroux December 2012

Having a sports car as your daily driver has both advantages and disadvantages. The possibility that even the dreaded Monday morning commute can be made exciting; a big advantage. Not being able to fit a week's worth of groceries in your trunk; not so much fun. Currently, I have a 1995 Acura NSX as my only vehicle. Almost every trip I take I am greeted with smiles, waves, and horns honking. However, there are times when I just wish I had a regular vehicle to do routine things. With Mazda's focus on the driving experience, I thought our 2013 Mazda CX-5 might fit the bill as the perfect everyday vehicle to compliment my NSX.

While not exactly a comparison between a high-end sports car and a compact SUV, I was interested more in seeing how exactly my routine trips could be improved (or possibly diminished) by converting my NSX to a weekend toy, or possibly replacing it altogether.

One of the biggest limitations for most 2-seat sports cars is space. While it's perfectly acceptable for the cabin to be tight and the seats body-hugging, there is generally very little room for anything but you and your passenger. With the rear seats folded, the CX-5's 65.4 cubic feet of space is plenty of room to handle all the loads that I could imagine, including an oft-delayed trip to the Salvation Army to drop off some donations.

Another drawback to an older sports car is the lack of modern amenities most of us have come to expect in every new vehicle. With an available 6-disc CD changer and automatic climate control, the NSX was well-equipped in 1995, but obviously many of today's technologies and features are missing. Our CX-5 Grand Touring has the optional TomTom navigation, HomeLink, and remote engine starting; standard features include a blind spot monitoring system, Bluetooth, and a back-up camera. And it's these standard features that really come in handy. However, during a week's worth of driving, I never used any of the optional features. Obviously, my NSX doesn't have factory-installed navigation - it wasn't even offered as an option in 1995. I'm already used to using my phone for navigation, and that's what I did when driving the Mazda. The remote engine start feature is cool, but again, I just didn't use it during my week with the CX-5. If you're shopping for a 2013 Mazda CX-5, I think you can skip the Homelink, remote start and navigation system. Doing so will save you about $1,850.

While the NSX was not designed to break any speed records, it is a very quick and agile car that is still quite easy to drive. I prefer manual transmissions, I don't particularly dislike automatics, but here in Atlanta, an automatic is a welcome feature especially during the afternoon commute. Unfortunately, the CX-5's powertrain is designed for maximum fuel efficiency. In the chase for greater MPG's, the transmission is always jumping to the highest gear and that makes the engine feel underpowered. That's too bad, because the CX-5's ride and handling are quite admirable for a small crossover utility vehicle. If you really want to wring every last bit of power out the CX-5's four cylinder engine, the automatic transmission has a shift it yourself feature and that helps the little SUV feel slightly quicker.

Crossover SUVs are becoming more similar than different, the 2013 CX-5 is a refreshing take on the small SUV. Very few others offer appealing styling, impressive MPG, and a long list of available features for a reasonable price. While my time with the CX-5 was quite enjoyable and eye-opening, I realized that I'm not yet willing to give up the pure enjoyment I get from owning and driving my NSX.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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2013 Mazda CX-5: Can it Replace a Sports Car? - Autotrader