Notes From the L.A. Auto Show

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mazda cx-5

The L.A. Auto show opens Friday, 11/18. It’s a good time to see what’s out there, about to be out there, and what may never be out there…. Over the next few days, I want to look at some of the vehicles that may catch your eye at the show: starting here.

Mazda is showing off its smallest crossover yet, the 2013 CX-5. It’s smaller than the company’s 3-row CX-9, and even the 2-row CX-7. The CX-5 is the first new Mazda to debut with the Japanese auto-maker’s new direction in styling. A more aggressive front end replaces previous Mazda’s ‘smiling grill’-look. Also, Mazda is using the CX-5 to debut what it calls “SkyActiv” technology — a combo platter of more efficient engines, lighter weight, and redesigned parts.

The 2013 CX-5 displays a sporty stance: it leans forward on 10-blade wheels. At the trailing edge, a functional spoiler sits over the back hatch. It’s designed to keep air, flowing smoothly overhead… and dust and rain off the rear window.

Matte-finished plastic rocker panels and wheel-arches surround the car’s lower edge and do more than ward-off chips from flying road debris, they add to the CX-5’s sense of style.

Inside, this new mini SUV features bucket seats up front, and comfortable room for two in back. Three, for short trips, or short legs. With the rear seats folded down, there’s some serious cargo space.

Drivers will appreciate an instrument panel that’s laid out cleanly and efficiently. A large tach and speedometer take center stage. Expect a choice of a manual, or 6-speed automatic transmission, when the CX-5 arrives in showrooms.

Under the hood, a 2 litre, inline 4, pushing out about 160 horsepower. Mazda is balancing performance with good gas mileage: the company is aiming for 30 miles per gallon, an impressive accomplishment for a sporty SUV, no matter how compact.

The all new CX-5 goes on sale early next year, starting — I’m guessing — around or just above $20K. Both outside and inside, it also offers some clues to the future direction of other Mazdas that will follow in its path.

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