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Mazda's New CX-5 SUV Lands At Top

Headroom is good, too, with 40.1 and 39 inches, respectively, in the front and back seats of the CX-5. These figures are more than what's in the CR-V.

Yet, the test CX-5 handled more like a confident and poised car than a taller-riding SUV. The driver felt a noticeable connection to the pavement surfaces, and steering had good on-center feel and crisp, but not twitchy, response. Road noise came through from the tires on all but the smoothest of asphalt.

The commendable body control, which reduced any tippy feeling in curves and turns, translated into a firm, but not harsh, ride.

One thing that surprised: The turning circle for this 15-foot-long SUV is 39 feet, which is larger than that of many other compact SUVs.

It's true the CX-5's 2-liter, double overhead cam, direct-injection four cylinder isn't as powerful as those of some competitors, including the RAV4 and CR-V.

The CX-5's engine torque peaks at 150 foot-pounds at 4,000 rpm, and there were times during the test drive where the engine sounded buzzy and pressured.

But at idle, the test CX-5 was impressively quiet, and the tester averaged nearly 27 mpg in city/highway travel.

It felt good to have a normal-acting automatic transmission with six gears smoothly delivering the power, rather than a continuously variable transmission that can drone on and leave a driver wanting for pre-set shift points.

The test CX-5 performed well on city streets and flat terrain and exhibited some lugging when on uphill highway stretches with a load of passengers inside.

Mazda does sell a trailer hitch and states the CX-5 can tow as much as 2,000 pounds.

Standard safety equipment includes six air bags, electronic stability control and traction control.

The CX-5 earned four out of five stars in overall crash tests by the federal government, with top, five-out-of-five stars in frontal testing and four out of five stars in side testing.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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