• Mazda's newest SUV will replace the Tribute early next year
  • The CX-5 ditches the Tribute's optional V6 in favor of an advanced new 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • A standard touch-screen infotainment system will be included on all versions of the compact SUV

This year's Los Angeles Auto Show played host to the North American debut of Mazda's all-new 2013 CX-5 compact SUV. Expected to replace the Ford-based Tribute, the smaller CX-5 offers an advanced new engine, bold styling and several new features including Mazda's fuel-saving SkyActiv technology.

On the outside, the CX-5 incorporates Mazda's new "Soul of Motion" design theme, which helps give the SUV a more striking appearance than its boxy predecessor. Several sculpted character lines run down each side, while Mazda's signature grille combines with bold fog lights for an aggressive front end. The SUV's dynamic styling is carried into its interior, which features a thick steering wheel, strong lines on its center stack and a well-placed infotainment screen with a console-mounted control knob.

Under the hood, the CX-5 loses the Tribute's available V6 in favor of an advanced new four-cylinder designed to maximize fuel economy while preserving acceleration. According to Mazda, the SUV's 155-horsepower 2.0-liter powerplant is ten percent lighter than the engine it replaces, benefitting the SUV's agility and fuel economy. But the automaker also says the cutting-edge engine offers the highest compression ratio available in a mass-produced vehicle and a unique exhaust system, resulting in higher torque and lower emissions than its predecessor.

The CX-5 also benefits from a generous list of standard and optional features. While a TomTom-based navigation system is optional, all CX-5 models feature an infotainment system with a 5.8-inch touch screen positioned above the center console. Other standard features include iPod connectivity and a nine-speaker sound system, while options include all-wheel drive, bi-xenon headlamps and a blind spot monitoring system. Mazda also built the CX-5 with its fuel-saving SkyActiv technology, using lightweight materials to improve strength and benefit fuel economy.

Expected to start around $20,000, the CX-5 will launch early next year with a target of around 160,000 sales worldwide. While that's an ambitious goal, the CX-5 is certainly a formidable contender in the crowded compact SUV segment.

What it means to you: Mazda's compact SUV ditches V6 power for cute-ute styling and an efficient new four-cylinder.

See more LA Auto Show news.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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