The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is the company’s first new design executed under its ‘Kodo: Soul of Motion’ design philosophy, and it sets a promising direction for future products. Less overwrought than previous smile-faced Mazdas, the CX-5 has a strong but not aggressive front end with a long hood and windshield pillars set further back than other crossovers—giving it more of a sports-car profile.
The upright five-point Mazda grille and swept-back headlights are distinctive, and the side profile stands out as well. Parked nose in, though, and despite its raked tailgate and deep trailing roof spoiler, the CX-5 vanishes in a row of similarly proportioned crossovers.
Inside, the new Mazda has a calm, business-like interior that’s functional and attractive—and, again, not nearly as overdesigned as some competitors’ dashboards. The dash and center stack are black, surfaced in soft-touch plastics, with either black or “sand” beige upholstery (in cloth or leather), the latter providing a nice two-tone interior.
Instrument faces are some of the simplest we’ve seen, with black needles, black backgrounds, and white numbers. They’re just this side of severe, but work well—our only complaint being that a 160-mph speedometer in a family vehicle makes little sense and crams the section you need to watch into less than half the needle sweep.
Mazda’s color palette remains stunningly basic: two reds, two blues, two whites, silver, gray, and black. They all work fine, but with other crossovers using more adventurous hues—Root Beer, anyone?—we wonder whether the CX-5 won’t seem overly plain in comparison.