- The 2020 Honda CR-V gets an update and a new hybrid variant.
- The Mazda CX-5 offers an optional performance engine option.
- The Honda CR-V earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, and the Mazda CX-5 earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.
The Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are two of the leading compact SUVs on the market. Both offer compelling packages, but they come at things from different ends of the spectrum. The CR-V is familiar, functional and efficient, while the CX-5 offers a luxury experience with an optional powertrain to match.
Below, we’ll compare these two popular SUVs in a number of categories to help you determine which might be best for you.
The CR-V wears a conservative, familiar design, while the CX-5 offers premium styling and is nothing short of beautiful in its upper trims. The CR-V’s front end incorporates chrome and black plastic trim and, on upper trims, bejeweled LED headlights. Around back, the CR-V still wears vertical taillights, a design element the CR-V has incorporated since its first generation. While pretty basic, it wouldn’t be a stretch to refer to the CR-V’s design language as futuristic. See the 2020 Honda CR-V models for sale near you
The CX-5 wears curvy, upscale styling. Its headlights are level to the ground and bracket a pentagonal grille with a chrome surround. When viewed from the side profile, the CX-5’s front end is nearly vertical. Around the side, the CX-5’s door panels are curvy and without any defined lines, while around back, its taillights are narrow and incorporate a circular design element. Overall, everything with the CX-5 works, and while style is subjective, few people would argue with you if you called it the best-looking compact SUV on sale today. See the 2020 Mazda CX-5 models for sale near you
The exterior design languages of these two vehicles car
ry over to their interiors. The CR-V is highly functional, while the CX-5 is luxurious. While most Hondas have moved to a push-button gear selector, the CR-V still uses an old-school gear lever, as does the CX-5. Inside, the CR-V offers high-quality materials and smart design, but compared to the CX-5, the CR-V is really nothing special. This says more about the CX-5, though, than it does the CR-V, as the Mazda‘s interior is easily the nicest in the segment, especially in its high-end Signature trim. High-end brown and parchment interior colors are offered, as is a suede headliner. The CX-5 uses a console-mounted knob to operate its infotainment system, while the CR-V relies solely on touch controls.
Altogether, if you’re after refinement, the CX-5 has a better interior, while the CR-V is more about functionality and value.
While the interior dimensions of the two vehicles are largely similar, the CR-V offers a larger cargo area than the CX-5. Around back, the CR-V offers 39 cu ft. of room to the CX-5’s 31 cu ft. Fold their second rows, and the Honda has 76 cu ft. to the Mazda’s 60.
While a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine was previously offered on the base trim, all CR-V trims now come standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder for 2020. This powertrain puts out 190 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque and comes paired with a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel-drive models earn 30 miles per gallon in combined driving, while all-wheel-drive examples net 29 mpg combined.
The CR-V gets a new hybrid option for 2020. Under the hood of the CR-V Hybrid will be a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder paired with a two-mode hybrid unit putting out a total of 212 hp. While fuel economy numbers for the new CR-V Hybrid has yet to be released, we expect it to return around 40 mpg in combined driving.
The CX-5 emphasizes driving enjoyment and offers two different engine options, although neither is a hybrid. Lower-end trims come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the base engine comes in at 28 mpg combined with FWD or 26 mpg combined with AWD. Standard on the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims is a more powerful turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. In this application, output is 250 hp and an impressive 310 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the turbo comes in at 25 mpg combined with FWD, or 24 combined with AWD. While Mazda has been promising a diesel powertrain for the CX-5 for a few years now, we’ve given up hope that a diesel-powered CX-5 will ever actually go on sale here in the U.S.
Features & Technology
Both the CR-V and CX-5 offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all but their base trim levels. Other notable features offered on the CR-V include a panoramic sunroof, a foot-activated power rear lift gate, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, a 9-speaker premium audio system and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
While it can’t be had with a panoramic sunroof or a foot-activated rear lift gate, the CX-5 offers some upscale features that you can’t get on the CR-V. These include ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heads-up display, a 360-degree camera system and power folding door mirrors. There’s also an available Bose audio system and more.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the CX-5 and CR-V earned scores of Good in all major categories. The CX-5 leads the way among compact SUVs, earning a Top Safety Pick+ award, while the CR-V isn’t too far behind, earning a Top Safety Pick award of its own.
The 2020 CR-V and the 2020 CX-5 both come standard with a full range of active safety technology. These features include forward-collision warning with front automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams. The CX-5 also comes standard with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, while the CR-V gains this feature on its EX trim, which is one up from the base model.
Both the CR-V and CX-5 should offer good overall reliability. Consistent with the competition, Honda and Mazda both offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The CR-V starts at $24,350, and a fully loaded Touring model will come in at just over $34,000. Pricing for the 2020 CR-V Hybrid has yet to be released.
The CX-5 starts at $26,135 and tops out at around $39,000 for a fully loaded Grand Touring model. The least expensive CX-5 you can get with the turbocharged engine is the Grand Touring Reserve model, which comes in at just over $36,000.
All prices include associated destination fees.
While they’re similarly sized compact SUVs, the 2020 Honda CR-V and the 2020 Mazda CX-5 are likely to appeal to different buyers. Both offer good quality, exceptional safety ratings and a good array of available technology. As the CR-V is focused on functionality, space and efficiency, especially with the introduction of a new hybrid trim for 2020, it will likely appeal more to small families who don’t quite need three rows of seats from their primary vehicle. The CX-5, on the other hand, is more geared toward style, luxury and driving pleasure. With either of the vehicle’s two available engine options, buyers should find that the CX-5 delivers an elevated driving experience when compared to other compact SUVs, while its interior is on par with the offerings of many luxury automakers. As these two vehicles are priced similarly, we think the CX-5 is a better overall value than the CR-V, given that it offers a luxury experience at an economy car price and will work nearly as well for a small family as the CR-V. Find a Honda CR-V for sale or Find a Mazda CX-5 for sale