2020 Toyota RAV4 vs 2020 Mazda CX-5
  • Comparisons

2020 Toyota RAV4 vs 2020 Mazda CX-5

By Autolist Staff | September 28 2020

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Mazda CX-5

Our User's Take

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2020 Toyota RAV4 score: 7/10

Highlights:
  • Lots of standard driver assistance technology
  • Efficient powertrain choices
  • Spacious interior and cargo area
  • Distinctive off-road models

2020 Mazda CX-5 score: 8/10

Highlights:
  • Among the most stylish in its class, inside and out.
  • Better driving dynamics than most compact crossovers.
  • Lots of driver assistance safety features come standard.
  • The infotainment system is confusing and behind the times.

How they stack up:

Safety Features:

Toyota RAV4: 8/10

  • The RAV4 comes standard with an extensive list of driver assistance features, called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. All models come with adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and assist, automatic high beams, and road sign recognition. Some models also get blind-spot monitoring and front and rear parking sensors with rear cross-traffic alert. While rivals from Ford, Honda, Subaru, among others, also make much of this equipment standard, many others still don’t.

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2020 Toyota RAV4 its Top Safety Pick award, its second-highest honor. Crash test and prevention scores were all high, but most RAV4 models come with headlights the agency deemed insufficient. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2020 RAV4 its highest five-star overall rating.

Mazda CX-5: 8/10

  • Every Mazda CX-5 gets a raft of standard driver assistance features that’s among the best for compact SUVs. All models get automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic high beams, just to name a few things. While the CX-5 isn’t the only compact SUV to include these systems as standard, most vehicles in this class make some or all of these features optional – or unavailable on less expensive variants.

  • The CX-5 also received top marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), ranking among the safest vehicles in crash testing, crash avoidance, and headlight testing.

Value:

Toyota RAV4: 6/10

  • While the RAV4’s base price and standard equipment are competitive, higher grades get expensive quickly and approach the highest levels in the compact SUV class. And that’s before factoring in that, hybrid versions aside, the RAV4 doesn’t offer a more powerful engine option to rival the turbocharged Mazda CX-5 or V6-powered Jeep Cherokee, for example. And fully equipped versions of the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester cost less than a top-tier RAV4.

  • The XLE Premium, at around $31,000 to start, is the least expensive way to get desirable items such as dual-zone automatic climate control and a power liftgate. The off-road-oriented models begin with the RAV4 Adventure at just over $34,000, which is about the same price as the more capable Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.

Mazda CX-5: 8

-The CX-5 largely matches its main rivals on price with similar equipment. Some rivals are larger than the Mazda in terms of rear seat and cargo space, but the CX-5’s interior quality mitigates that. Every model comes relatively well equipped, but some niceties like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a power driver’s seat, aren’t available on the base model.

  • As you walk up the trim levels, the more powerful CX-5 models can get expensive, but they could be perceived as rivals to upscale compact SUVs from companies such as Audi and Volvo. Compared to vehicles such as the Q3 and XC40, the Mazda CX-5 is larger, better equipped, and still less expensive.

Efficiency:

Toyota RAV4: 8/10

  • The 2020 Toyota RAV4 2.5-liter gasoline is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg city, 35 highway, and 30 mpg combined. All-wheel-drive LE models fall one mpg in city and highway, while all other all-wheel-drive models drop between 2 and 3 mpg highway compared to the standard model.

  • RAV4 Hybrid models are rated at 41 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 40 mpg combined.

  • All of the RAV4’s EPA estimates are near or at the top of the class. The Ford Escape and Honda CR-V front-drive models come closest to the RAV4.

  • Both the Ford and Honda are also available as hybrid variants, but only the Ford’s front-drive hybrid edges the Toyota. Compared to other gasoline models, the RAV4 boasts better EPA figures than many subcompact SUVs, which is worth considering if fuel economy is a priority.

Mazda CX-5: 6/10

  • Front-wheel-drive CX-5 models get up to 31 mpg highway, falling just one mpg with the addition of all-wheel-drive. While not class-leading, the CX-5 is relatively efficient for its class. The turbocharged models, which come standard with all-wheel-drive, fall to a 22/27 rating. That’s significantly worse than similarly powerful vehicles of this size.

  • However, the CX-5 lacks a gas-electric hybrid powertrain option. That means it trails models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 for outright efficiency.

Driving Experience:

Toyota RAV4: 6/10

  • The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides adequate performance, but not much more. While its 202 horsepower rating is somewhat higher than the standard engines offered in many rivals, it’s less responsive than models with standard turbocharged engines. The transmission also works hard to tap into that power, and engine noise levels are higher than expected. The hybrid powertrain is more responsive and quieter in certain conditions.

  • Steering and handling are also off from the best-in-class, and generally make the RAV4 drive larger than it is. The all-wheel-drive system in Adventure and TRD Off-Road models can at least be programmed for different terrain surfaces and conditions while switching to two-wheel-drive mode when four-wheel traction isn’t needed. It offers better-than-expected off-road performance, and more than most drivers will likely need.

Mazda CX-5: 9/10

  • Ride and handling are among the CX-5’s biggest advantages over its rivals. Steering is unusually precise for a vehicle like this, and the handling is responsive in a way that would shame some sedans. Unlike some SUVs, the CX-5 feels smaller than it really is, and more like a compact hatchback. Few vehicles at this price can touch it.

  • Even base model CX-5s have sufficient power and feel a little more lively than rivals with similar horsepower. But the turbocharged versions are noticeably quicker and responsive. Not all rivals offer an uplevel engine option, either. And it gives the Mazda another way to compete with premium SUVs with similar power, and that cost significantly more.

Tech Features:

Toyota RAV4: 7/10

  • With the addition of Android Auto for 2020, the RAV4 is finally competitive in terms of in-car technology. All models get Android Auto, as well as Apple CarPlay now, which nearly all of its rivals include as standard now. A seven-inch touchscreen is standard on base-level cars, while higher trims can be upgraded with an eight-inch version, and an audio package includes a JBL sound system and built-in navigation. While relatively easy to use, Toyota’s infotainment system lacks the clarity and ease of use from systems found in Jeep models and the Chevrolet Equinox, and it’s not as responsive as that found in the Volkswagen Tiguan.

  • In addition to driver assistance technology, the RAV4 can be equipped with up to five USB ports, a 360-degree camera, and ventilated front seats. Also available is a digital rearview mirror, which is able to switch from being a traditional mirror to a camera projection of what’s behind the vehicle. No other vehicle in the RAV4’s class offers that feature, even if it’s likely to be most useful when towing a trailer, because all models come equipped with some form of a backup camera.

Mazda CX-5: 7/10

  • The CX-5 comes standard with a seven-inch infotainment screen, while more expensive models get an eight-inch version. All but the base model have two USB ports and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Built-in navigation is only standard on the most expensive version, though. While comprehensive, the CX-5 doesn’t boast anything rivals don’t.

  • More troubling is the way it all works. While it has touchscreen capabilities, the infotainment system is mostly operated through a rotary knob and a series of complicated menus. Also, the system is laggy and has weak graphics, especially for maps. The CX-5 is beat here by nearly all of its rivals and even some other Mazda vehicles. Techies should look elsewhere.

Style & Design:

Toyota RAV4: 7/10

  • The RAV4 is essentially available in three appearances, with traditional models keeping a corporate Toyota look. LE models make do with standard steel wheels, while many other rivals now offer alloy wheels across the line. The XSE models have a sportier appearance, while the Adventure and TRD get a rugged look. It’s a matter of preference, but at least Toyota offers distinct choices between trims, something most vehicles in the segment do not offer. If anything, the off-road-oriented variants of the RAV4 stand out most in this class. All versions, at least, offer an excellent glass area for good outward visibility.

  • The interior design is sound and quality of materials satisfactory for the class. The touchscreen is mounted high for good visibility, while several physical knobs and buttons make adjustments easy while driving. Base models, however, have some lower-rent fabrics. And all versions lack the visual panache of the Mazda CX-5 or the higher quality plastics in a VW Tiguan.

Mazda CX-5: 8/10

  • With subtly refined details and expensive-looking materials, the CX-5 stands out from the mainstream crossover. Its exterior is more distinctive than many of its rivals, with all models receiving alloy wheels and metal exterior details.

-Inside, quality is generally higher than most. High-end versions get real leather upholstery and wood inserts, while there are also features such as ventilated front seats – all unusual for a vehicle at this price. Most controls, apart from the audio, are intuitive, as well.

  • Despite the more adventurous styling, visibility doesn’t suffer too much. The CX-5 is about as easy to see out of as any good compact SUV, and better than several.

Practicality:

Toyota RAV4: 8/10

  • All RAV4 models benefit from a spacious cabin and highly usable cargo area, despite it being on the smaller side of its immediate rivals. Headroom and legroom for four adults are generous, even if five is a squeeze. Those installing car seats should find the process easy, thanks to rear doors that open wide. Cargo space is among the best in the class, although the Subaru Forester’s boxier and taller shape may provide more usable space than the slightly sloping rear end of the Toyota.

  • Only the three-row Volkswagen Tiguan and Mitsubishi Outlander offer more space for cargo and people, but those who regularly use three rows of seats in an SUV will be better served by a midsize crossover, rather than a compact.

  • The RAV4 is also capable of towing a maximum of 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. That’s among the highest in the segment, save for the V6-powered Cherokee. Given its four-cylinder engine, however, it may not be the most pleasant towing experience.

Mazda CX-5: 7/10

  • While it’s not cramped, passenger space is only average for the class. However, cargo room takes a hit compared to models such as the CR-V and Nissan Rogue. That’s where the CX-5’s smaller external size hinders it against the competition, and some models even offer a third-row seat, where the Mazda is a strict two-row vehicle. However, it’s still more spacious inside than premium rivals such as an Audi Q3 or Volvo XC40.

  • The cargo area is at least flexible, with standard 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. The maximum towing capacity is rated at just 2,000 pounds, however.

  • All-wheel-drive is available on models with the 2.5-liter engine, standard on turbocharged versions.

Cost of Ownership

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Mazda CX-5

Annual Fuel Costs

$1,207
15k miles at $2.172/gal
$1,358
15k miles at $2.172/gal
Fuel Economy

25 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
22 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
32 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway
27 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway

Safety

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Mazda CX-5

NHTSA Crash Test Results

Overall
Overall
Safety Features

Standard
Autonomous Braking
Standard
Autonomous Braking
Standard
Blind-Spot Warnings
Standard
Blind-Spot Warnings
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard
Lane-Keep Assist
Standard
Lane-Keep Assist
Standard
Cross-Traffic Alert
Standard
Cross-Traffic Alert

Interior

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Mazda CX-5

Interior Features

Standard
Leather
Standard
Leather
Standard
Moonroof
Standard
Moonroof
Standard
Heated Seats
Standard
Heated Seats
Standard
Keyless Entry
Standard
Keyless Entry
Standard
Climate Control
Standard
Climate Control
Technology

Standard
Apple Carplay
Standard
Apple Carplay
Standard
Android Auto
Standard
Android Auto
Standard
Satellite Radio
Standard
Satellite Radio
Standard
Bluetooth
Standard
Bluetooth
Standard
Navigation System
Standard
Navigation System

Under the Hood

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Mazda CX-5

Powertrain

Transmission
Transmission
FWD
Drivetrain
FWD
Drivetrain
Drivetrain

N/A
Horsepower
N/A
Horsepower
N/A
Torque
N/A
Torque
N/A
Cylinders
N/A
Cylinders