Handling. Many people don’t prioritize how their crossover drives — which makes sense considering you buy them for other reasons. But this Mazda does many things well and then on top of that, includes sharp handling as a bonus — like all other Mazda models do.
Sharp styling. In addition to the class-leading handling, the CX-5 has another ace up its sleeve — how it looks. Mazda’s entire lineup is one of the sleekest non-luxury brands in the industry and the CX-5 continues that trend with aplomb. It’s far more refined than anything else in its segment, including the Honda. Inside and out, the CX-5 looks like it should be wearing a German luxury brand label while paying mainstream prices. We won’t tell if you don’t.
Automatic transmission. While nearly all of its peers also offer a CVT style of automatic gearbox, the Mazda continues to use a traditional six-speed automatic. While CVTs do have a reputation for being less thirsty at the gas pump, they’re also less enjoyable than a conventional automatic. So while the fuel economy on the CX-5 suffers some, it makes up for it in driving enjoyment.
All-aroundedness. Yes, it’s a word. The best word to describe the CR-V. No other mainstream (non-luxury) compact crossover does so many things so well as the CR-V. The Toyota RAV4 comes close but the CR-V is top of the segment in our book. Nothing against the Mazda CX-5, but if you’re looking for one vehicle that can do it all, it’s the Honda.
More interior space. You’re buying a CUV for its practicality right? So pay attention to the CR-V’s superior cargo space (39.2 cubic feet compared to the Mazda’s 30.9 cubic feet) and its additional legroom in both the front and rear seats.
More fuel efficient. Both versions of the Honda CR-V (base non-turbo and the remaining lineup of turbo models) beat both versions of the CX-5 (non-turbo and turbo) for fuel efficiency by fairly respectable numbers. That’s just money in your pocket.
This is a tough call since we’re huge fans of both models. On paper, the CR-V is the most well-rounded model in its segment, followed closely by the Toyota RAV4. As we mentioned, Honda just does everything well; it’s safe, functional, comfortable and efficient. Meanwhile, the Mazda sacrifices some fuel efficiency and interior space but definitely has the edge when it comes to styling, refinement and driving dynamics. Ultimately, that’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make, so we say Buy the Mazda.
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