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Old 02-07-2013, 02:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
Depends on the Day
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Location: Kansas City Area
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2013 Mazda2 Touring 4AT Quick Review

Another update to a newer vehicle rented...

Compared to vehicles availabe 7-8 years ago when we were asking for this type of vehicle, we can register a huge improvement. Aero, FE, comfort, and some vehicles in the class with near-luxury level appointments, appeal to a broader range of buyers where "small doesn't sacrifice content". But, as we'll see, some vehicles here may be better suited for city / ex-burban operation.

2013 Mazda Mazda2 5-Door
Touring Trim Level (upgrade from Sport)
1.5L DOHC I-4 with VVT (intake)
100hp@6000 RPM
98lb-ft tq@4000 RPM
4-Speed Automatic
EPA FE: 28/34

New @ 184 miles at journey start
70 mph speed to beat oncoming Winter Storm on Day-1, 75 mph Day-2 to Airport
Strong headwinds: Day 1 (night) 15-20 mph; Day 2 (late morning) 20-30mph (MesoWest Station Data: Reference ~11:00-Noon)
Cold temps: Range= 24F dropping to 12F
Payload: Me, Computer Bag, and Suitcase (and I've lost 35lbs compared to previous tests).

Day 1: Kansas City Intl Airport to Sioux City, IA
Day 2: Sioux City, IA to Sioux Falls Regional Airport, SD
Miles: ~340
Tank 2 most accurate due to own fillup at Omaha, NE (yet similar to Tank-1)
FE = 23.4 (double checked) -- noted consumption was heavy through dash readings of FE-Avg, FE-Instant, and the dropping fuel gauge.

I was really shocked at the FE result, even with my non-Ecomodder-like driving. The engine and transmission seemed ill-suited for this cold and windy highway task. Granted it had not been "broken-in" yet, but still 10 mpg off of the mark is significant. The cruise control was used extensively, which was noted to deviate +/- 5mph on hills.

The wall of air and rolling terrain proved confusing for the transmission ECU. At one point, it was stuck in 3rd gear for several minutes, buzzing at 5000 RPM after a hill-climb levelled. With the radio's USB/i-Device connection, noises were easily drowned out. It took a glance at the tach to realize that it was time to trick it to shift.

The driving position is very comfortable and roomy. A very simple, yet feature-laden dash has some small buttons and confusing menus, but does the job. The sporty nature of the suspension and refined electric power steering offered stability in the wind, and a fun-to-drive appeal in turns. As with most 5-doors of this size, you have to take your pick between cargo or rear seat passengers.

Was this a fair test? Maybe not, but it gave some insight into Ford's "B3" platform. A month or so ago, I rented the Mazda's counterpart, a 1.6L Ford Fiesta SES 5-door Auto (pleasantly loaded with lots of extras) and achieved 34 mpg at simiar speeds. The Mazda is less expensive, not as complex (5-door is only offered), and looks more subtle with smooth lines. Fiesta is also available in sedan form, with it's lineup more aggressively styled with many more options in which to choose. The SYNC system offers a voice-operated (and steering-wheel control) link to your USB connected device for stored music, app execution, and navigation.

The FE formula to the Fiesta is slightly more power from a dual VVT DOHC plant, and a dual, dry-clutch 6-speed automatic dubbed "Powershift" -- since there is no torque converter, efficiency is increased, provides a direct connection of torque from engine-to-wheels, and places the driveline in neutral when stopped. It isn't really a smooth operator and has had some quirks/issues in the Focus, but it's new technology and intriguing to find in a sub-compact.

So, in the Mazda2 deserves a second chance -- but in the meantime, I'll take the Fiesta 5-door in the sub-compact arena.

Happy EcoDriving,

“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research” ― Albert Einstein

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