An all-new replacement for the recently-departed Tribute compact SUV, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 made its first public appearance in Los Angeles displaying styling cues and engineering innovations that are destined to become signature elements throughout the rest of the automaker's lineup. Based on the Minagi Concept SUV revealed in Geneva last spring, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 is the first vehicle to embody both the new "Kodo-Soul of Motion" visual language as well as Mazda's comprehensive SkyActiv suite of design disciplines that focus on reducing overall vehicle weight while improving operating efficiencies of the engine, transmission, and suspension in the most synergistic manner possible.

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While it's overall shape is both assertive and aerodynamic, the key to the new Kodo-era look is most evident in new CX-5's much more expressive face. It centers around an elegantly re-envisioned take on Mazda's classic five-pointed grille that use character lines extending back though the headlamps to create what Mazda calls a "signature wing" look, which is set off here by a new trapezoidal lower air intake. Prominently flared fender arches filled with 17-inch or 19-inch wheel/tire fitments, crisply rendered body contours, swept-back A-pillars and a tail treatment highlighted by a large liftgate and functional roof spoiler add contemporary flair to the mix while also helping the CX-5 earn a very car-like 0.33 coefficient of drag.

To complement its more sophisticated appearance, the new Mazda CX-5 strategically exploits the synergies made possible by full implementation of the entire range of SkyActiv technologies to create a more sophisticated dynamic experience. A lighter but stronger and more rigid unit body serves as a solid foundation while new, lighter suspension components and revised geometry coupled with Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering promise to improve handling and feel while delivering better isolation from road impacts. That will hold true whether the CX-5 is in its standard front-drive configuration or fitted with Mazda's new and also less-massive/more-efficient all-wheel-drive system.

The sole engine in the Mazda CX-5 is the new 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G, a naturally-aspirated gasoline four-cylinder that uses direct injection and features a super-high 13:1 compression ratio and a 4-2-1 exhaust header to turn out an impressive 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. It's backed by one of two exceptionally efficient six-speed transmissions: the SkyActiv-MT manual or the SkyActiv-Drive automatic. Mazda is projecting the CX-5 will earn class-leading fuel economy numbers from either combination.

When the 2013 Mazda CX-5 arrives early next year it will turn up with a first-rate inside game, as well, mixing style and comfort with a generous feature set in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims. A driver-oriented dash and control layouts, lightweight but supportive front buckets and an upgraded climate control system can be supplemented with premium features that include 5.8-inch multifunction touchscreen, Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound audio system, TomTom-based navigation package and HD radio. A class-leading 106.3-inch wheelbase ensures that even Mazda's smallest SUV offers adult-scaled space for its rear-seat passengers. The CX-5 also boasts the industry's first 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat with elements that can be independently controlled using quick-release levers. When cargo does take priority, the rear bay in the CX-5 can be expanded from 34.1 to 65.4 cu ft.

Facing off against key rivals like the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4 as well as the all-new 2012 Honda CR-V and 2013 Ford Escape will be no easy task. But fortified with SkyActiv powers, the 2013 Mazda CX-5 appears well prepared to take on the challenge.

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