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USED WHEELS: 2013+ Mazda CX-5 delivers on ride, handling, looks


2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard
2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard - Justin Pritchard

Time flies. The award-winning Mazda CX-5 has been on sale for more than six years now, after initially hitting Canadian roads in 2012 for model year 2013.

This machine brought Mazda and their SkyActiv suite of safety technologies to the crossover segment in a big way.

Key competitors included the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. The CX-5 boasted a striking and unique look that drew the attention of many shoppers, while good safety, value, fuel efficiency and driving metrics helped seal the deal.

Though the CX-5 has appealed to many shoppers for many reasons, most owners report that, for their dollar, the CX-5 delivered strongly on two attributes: a nicely-tuned ride and handling feel, and an upscale look, inside and out.

On that front, feature content many include heated leather seating, a premium BOSE stereo, premium lighting equipment, push-button ignition, and more, depending on the model selected. The “GT” trim grade was the top dog, if you’re after a fully-loaded package.

All CX-5’s ran a SkyActiv four-cylinder engine of either two or 2.5 litres of displacement. Horsepower was rated at around 155 or 185, respectively, and all models got a six-speed transmission in the driver’s choice of manual or automatic, though the six-speed stick was only available on front-drive units.

More popular CX-5 models with all-wheel drive were all automatic.

Considering a used CX-5? Here are some tips and checks to consider before you buy.

 2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard
2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard

Check the ride quality

Though most owners are satisfied with how the CX-5 drives and rides, some owners have reported that the ride can become too stiff, abrupt or choppy on certain (typically rougher) surfaces.

As such, test-drives are advised to visit the roughest road available on their pre-purchase test drive to confirm the ride quality for themselves.

Typically, higher-grade models with larger wheels (and thinner tires) will suffer a greater reduction in ride comfort on rougher roads than a model with smaller wheels and thicker tires, which have more cushion.

Check the servicing

To help fend off potential problems associated with intake valve gunk buildup, which is somewhat common in the form of direct injected engine used in the CX-5, shoppers are advised to make sure the vehicle’s past owner has strictly followed all maintenance and servicing requirements, to the letter, as outlined in the owner’s manual under the “severe” use schedule.

Confirm by checking service records or dealer / repair shop records, that the unit you’re considering has had all oil changes completed on time, using only factory-specified oil and filters. Be sure the seller has only fuelled the vehicle with high-quality gasoline (from a reputable retailer) at each fill, too. Units for sale from remote areas may be suspect, here.

Finally, for maximum peace of mind, be certain that spark plugs are changed (or have been changed) not a moment later than outlined in the owner’s manual. Consistency in following these steps precisely can go a long way toward a long and trouble-free life of the CX-5’s engine. Note that the warranty doesn’t cover damage or problems caused by failure to properly maintain the vehicle.

Rust check

Some years back, many Mazda owners experienced well-documented problems with rust and corrosion.

Today, it seems that these have been eliminated, though shoppers are advised to remember that a little undercoating can go a long way to keep your new crossover’s body from turning into sheet-metal swiss-cheese and to consider a careful inspection for rust to be a vital part of a pre-purchase inspection. Examine the lower, inner-facing edges of each door, the hood, and the tailgate, as a bare minimum. Consider having the vehicle undercoated if it hasn’t been already, and if it has been, be sure to continue with regular treatments for higher resale value.

 2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard
2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard

Rear-end clunks

Coax unwelcome sounds from possibly-worn rear-end bushings by repeatedly stabbing the throttle lightly (about one third to one half of the way down) while the vehicle is travelling at a low speed, and locked into first gear. Do this where appropriate: an empty parking lot is likely best.

Listen carefully for a clunking or banging sound from the rear of the vehicle during this process. If you detect any, the likely culprit is a set of worn-out rear differential bushings, which are like rubber isolators that help make for a smoother drive. A technician should investigate further.

Replacing these bushings in a CX-5 can be a pricey job in the CX-5, according to some owners. Thankfully, this issue is reported with relative rarity, and seems to only affect high-mileage units.

Healthy battery = healthy CX-5

As it goes with many modern vehicles, the electronics can be fussy. A weak or dying battery, or the failure of a single, simple switch or sensor, can cause a dramatic reaction from the car. One CX-5 owner reported an array of warning lights, error messages, and non-functional systems caused by the failure of a simple brake-pedal switch (which is cheap and easy to fix). Other owners have reported strange, sporadic issues across multiple vehicle systems when the battery starts to die.

In any case, a technician can quickly diagnose potentially frustrating-looking problems like these. Often, they’re fairly minor, and in many cases, the culprit is a weak or dying vehicle battery. Do not attempt to fix a problem like any of the above by disconnecting and reconnecting the vehicle’s battery.

Have the battery tested professionally at the first sign of electronic problems, and replace it without hesitation if it’s not healthy.

The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals.

This information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer-performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.

 2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard
2013 Mazda CX-5 - Justin Pritchard

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