Car Comparison

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Mazda CX-5: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill February 2019
  • Both vehicles offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

  • A diesel variant is expected to be added to the Mazda CX-5 range some time in the near future.

  • The Honda CR-V is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, while the CX-5 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

The 2019 Honda CR-V and the Mazda CX-5 are set to be two of the best-selling compact SUVs on the market for the coming year and buyers looking for a new compact SUV are wise to start their search with both near the top of their list. Below, we'll compare the two to help determine which is the better buy.

Basic Specs

The CR-V was fully redesigned for the 2017 model year, so it offers relatively modern components and designs. Entry-level LX models come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 184 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Opt for anything but the base model, and your CR-V will come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder making 190 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of engine, all CR-Vs come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and can be had with optional all-wheel drive.

With the more common 1.5T and AWD, the CR-V earns 29 miles per gallon in combined driving. Front-wheel drive models earn an extra mpg in all categories.

The CR-V starts at $24,350. Fully-loaded Touring models reach $34,150.

If you enjoy driving, you'll enjoy the CX-5. An enthusiasts favorite, the CX-5 offers excellent overall refinement and is worthy of comparison with compact SUVs from higher-end automakers like Acura and Lexus. Additions to the 2019 CX-5 consist of a new top of the line Signature trim level and a more powerful optional turbocharged engine.

Previously, the CX-5 was offered with one engine -- a basic 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Newly available for 2019 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four putting out 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, making the CX-5 one of the more powerful compact crossovers on the market. With the base 2.5-liter engine, the CX-5 earns 28 mpg combined with FWD or 26 mpg combined with AWD. Opt for the more potent 2.5-liter turbo, and the CX-5 returns 25 mpg combined with FWD, or 24 mpg combined with AWD. In addition to these two gas engines, a diesel variant of the CX-5 has long been rumored, and Mazda even advertises it under future vehicles on its own website, but no release date has been announced. That said, the EPA's fuel economy website does list fuel economy ratings for the CX-5 diesel, and AWD are rated at 27 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined.

The CX-5 starts at $24,350 and reaches $38,480 in fully loaded turbocharged Grand Touring guise.

Reliability

CR-V and CX-5 buyers should both see above-average reliability. Honda and Mazda offer 3 year/36,000 mile basic and 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranties, which is for the most part consistent with the competition.

Safety

Both the CR-V and the CX-5 earn scores of Good across the board in all major categories in crash testing conducted by the insurance institute for highway safety. The CR-V scores well enough to earn a Top Safety Pick designation, while the CX-5 performs even better, earning a Top Safety Pick+ designation.

Aside from the base LX model, all 2019 CR-Vs come with a full range of active safety technology. This includes forward-collision warning with front automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams.

Standard on the CX-5 are forward-collision warning with front automated emergency braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist. Touring models and up get adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, automatic high beams, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and rear parking sensors.

Dimensions

The CR-V is slightly larger than the CX-5 in all exterior dimensions, and offers slightly more ground clearance. The CR-V measures 180.6 inches long, 73.0 inches wide and 66.5 inches tall, and offers 8.2 inches of ground clearance, while the CX-5 is 179.1 inches long, 72.5 inches wide and 65.4 inches tall, and offers 7.6 inches of ground clearance.

The CR-V's slight size advantage carries on to the inside. Up front, the CR-V offers 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom, while the CX-5 offers a slightly tighter 39.7 and 41.0 inches. Move to the second row, and the CR-V has 39.2 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom to the CX-5's 39.0 and 39.6.

As you may be able to guess by now, the CX-5 isn't quite as cavernous as the CR-V when it comes to cargo space. In the rear, the CX-5 offers 31 cu ft. of cargo room to the CR-V's 39 cu ft. Fold the second row, and the CR-V's advantage grows even more, with 76 cu ft. offered to the CX-5's 60 cu ft. Altogether, the CR-V offers one of the largest cargo areas in its class.

Interior Design

In terms of design, the CX-5 offers a far more upscale interior than what is found in the CR-V. The CX-5 is offered in a broad range of trim levels. Base Sport models come with black fabric. Touring models offer black or beige leatherette, and Grand Touring models offer black or light gray "parchment" leather. New for 2019 is the top-of-the-line Signature trim, which offers a brown Nappa leather interior with unique and distinctive wood trim. Like in all Mazda products, the CX-5's center infotainment screen floats atop the dashboard and is controlled by a console-mounted rotary dial. A leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter are standard on all trim levels.

The CR-V's interior is pretty mainstream. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is its shift lever that resides at the base of the dashboard rather than on the center console. The CR-V's center infotainment screen is located lower on the dash than it is on the CX-5. Interior color options are either black or gray, regardless of whether the vehicle is optioned with fabric or leather. Overall, while attractive by itself, the CR-V's interior is much less premium than that of the CX-5.

Features

Among the notable features available on the CR-V are a panoramic moonroof, a foot-activated power rear lift gate, rain sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights, power and heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Ventilated front seats and heated rear seats are notably absent.

Upper trim levels of the CX-5 are available with a head up display, power heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a 360-degree camera, power folding mirrors and rain-sensing windshield wipers

Infotainment

EX, EX-L and Touring variants of the CR-V come with a 7.0-in touchscreen infotainment system running Honda's "HondaLink" system, which is said to be in need of improvement. The presence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay serve to counteract this to a degree. One 12 volt outlet and four USB ports are offered in the CR-V

All trims of the CX-5 come with a 7.0-in touchscreen running Mazda's intuitive and easy-to-use infotainment system. The system is primarily controlled by a console mounted rotary dial, although the screen has redundant touch control that works only when the vehicle is stopped. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both offered. Three 12 volt outlets and four USB ports are included.

Autotrader's Advice

While they compete in the same segment, the CR-V and the CX-5 are likely to appeal to different customers. The 2019 Honda CR-V offers great interior space, more cargo room and slightly better fuel economy, making it great for small families or anyone else prioritizing efficiency and simplicity.

The CX-5 offers great style and quality at an excellent value. As we state above, it isn't out of the question to cross shop Grand Touring and Signature trim levels of this vehicle with compact SUV offerings from luxury marques like Lexus and Acura. This rings even truer when you factor in the CX-5's potent new turbocharged engine and Signature trim level, both of which serve to push the vehicle further upscale.

Altogether, while the CR-V is an exceptionally well conceived vehicle, we have to recommend the CX-5 in this comparison for its ability to offer a near-luxury experience at an incredibly reasonable price.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Mazda CX-5: Which Is Better? - Autotrader