New introductions that are new and unique.
By Andy Lightbody
Grand Junction, Co. --(Ammoland.com)- For a lot of years, both Mazda and Ford shared a host of designs when it came to auto technology.
But in 2009, the two auto companies parted ways, and as we enter 2013, when you look at the introductions from Mazda, they are unique to this company.
For running back and forth to the gun range, or heading for hills on your next outdoor adventure, Mazda is booting fuel economy and not sacrificing performance.
Redesigned back in 2010, the 3 is back for 2013 as either a four-door sedan or hatchback version, with a host of trim line models. What is most noteworthy for the New Year is that both the sedan and the hatchback can now be equipped with the SkyActiv powertrain that combines the new 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine with a choice of either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic transmission.
While the base vehicle (least expensive) can still be outfitted with a 2.0 liter 148 horsepower engine, the more option oriented models can sport the SkyActiv engine/transmission combination that adds 10% more passing-lane torque, and actually boots the fuel economy rating to 28 mpg city and a full 40 mpg on the highway. Even with better mileage ratings, the SkyActiv system puts out an impressive 155 horsepower.
Carried over again this year is the larger 2.5 liter powerplant that spits out 167 horsepower. But, in our driving evaluations, the SkyActiv system has plenty of “zoom,” and delivers much better fuel economy than the larger engine that is rated at only 22/29 mpg city/highway.
And of course, if you are looking for the ultimate zoom-zoom rocket sled, fear not! For Mazda also is offering its MazdaSpeed3 version, that is tricked out to the max and has a fire-breathing turbocharged 263 horsepower engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Rated to a top speed of 155 mph the Speed3 continues to rate as one of the fastest cars in its class.
All of the Mazda3 series are built on a 103.9 inch chassis and sport an overall length of around 177 inches. Small and compact, in our test drives, we hit several of our favorite dove hunting areas with a combination of paved and dirt roads. On the highway, the Mazda3 is well mannered, rides well and with the i Grand Touring options/package felt like a reasonably priced sports sedan. When we hit the dirt roads, the little vehicle handled the gravel like a rally car! Fun, spirited and great handling with a rigid ride and tight steering.
For the new year, Mazda literally went to the drawing board and came up with their own unique design for a compact crossover SUV that is likely to turn heads, and provide the driver with some sharp driving dynamics in a relatively lightweight package, while still providing decent city and highway mileage.
Starting with a 106.3 inch chassis, the Mazda CX-5 with all-new unibody construction sports an overall length of just over 179 inches. Our test vehicle was the Grand Touring (GT) with All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and sported the newly developed 155 horsepower 2.0 liter SkyActiv engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Tipping the scales at just over 3400 pounds, which is relatively light in the compact SUV marketplace, the CX-5 with the SkyActiv engine was quick, nimble and delivered an honest 30 mpg on the highway, and 24 in the city. Even when we were “slow cruising” on gravel roads and trails looking for some high-mountain blue grouse, the CX-5 delivered above 20 mpg, and with a 15.3 gallon fuel tank… we never worried about running low on gas.
Interior capacity with this newly designed vehicle feels “roomy.” The base model CX-5 has a 60/40-split folding rear seat, while the Touring and GT versions feature a nifty 40/20/40-split folding rear seat that not only allows for better passenger riding options, but was great in accommodating us as hunters/shooters with long gun cases that we simply stacked on top of each other and slid into place! With 64.5 cubic inches of cargo room, it’s not in the top of its class, but it is close, and the way the interior walls and roof are configured, we had room for lots of gear.
With the AWD feature, 19-inch alloy wheels and a full 8.5 inches of ground clearance, negotiating worn ruts and even an occasional snow drift on the dirt paths was easy.
In the comfort and option department, the Mazda CX-5 GT package comes loaded with creature comforts that include a sunroof, 8-way power driver seat, leather upholstery, headed front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, automatic headlights, auto wipers, heated mirrors and a killer 9-speaker Bose sound system with satellite radio. Options that were added to this were a keyless entry/ignition system, navigation/driving package, and theft alarm.
Overall, the CX-5 is a clean, stylish and fun-to-drive little SUV that won’t break the bank in its purchase price or drive you to the poor house in terms of fuel economy. Both on and off the road, it’s just a great driving machine!
Andy Lightbody is a TV/Video producer and host, as well as an outdoor writer/photographer. Lightbody is the former Managing Editor for Western Outdoors Magazine; Senior Editor at Petersen’s Hunting Magazine and Editor of the Guns & Ammo Book Division. He remains an avid shooter, hunter and angler, as well as a regular contributor to the Sportsman’s Warehouse publication—Sportsman’s News Magazine. Visit Rocky Mountain Television/Productions : www.rmtv.net