The 2013 Toyota RAV4, with a 176-horsepower four cylinder, debuts early next year and no pricing has been announced. The 2012 RAV4 has a starting retail price of $23,495 with automatic and front-wheel drive.

Mazda dropped its five-passenger CX-7 SUV after the 2012 model year to accommodate the new CX-5.

It's a good move, since the 2012 CX7 had a higher starting price â¿¿ $22,985 for a base, front-wheel drive model â¿¿ and was similarly sized to the CX-5.

But the CX-5's smaller displacement engine, with careful engineering to produce good response and top fuel economy, outshone the CX-7's, and CX-7 sales have been sluggish.

Meantime, the CX-5, which launched earlier this year, has garnered awards and sales around the world.

For example, the CX-5 was named Car of the Year in Japan. In Russia, which is Mazda's biggest European market, CX-5 orders are poised to easily surpass the company's sales target for the whole year.

American car buyers will like that the CX-5 has a stylish look that makes it seem like it's in motion even when it's standing still. There are lines in the exterior metal that carry the eye along the sides of the vehicle, and the front and back tie in attractively.

It's easy for easy petite women to get inside the CX-5. While passengers sit up a ways from the pavement, seats are well-positioned for most people to just set themselves onto the cushions without needing to climb up.

But there are only two interior colors offered â¿¿ black and sand.

Standard cloth seats have pleasant upholstery, while the leather-trimmed seats in the test CX-5 Grand Touring model looked upscale and provided good support.

The 41 inches of front-seat legroom was a welcome sight for a 6-foot passenger, and even back-seat passengers get a generous 39.3 inches. This is an inch more than what's in the back seat of the CR-V and compares with only 32.1 inches of rear-seat legroom in the smaller Juke.

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