2019 Mazda CX-5 vs Honda CR-V
Those who are in the market for a new small SUV might find themselves torn between the 2019 Mazda CX-5 and the 2019 Honda CR-V. These vehicles are at the top of their pack and both come loaded to the brim with a ton of handy features. They also get a good amount of power from their engines.
But which is the better small SUV? Does one offer a better deal than the other?
While these two vehicles share a lot in common, there is one that stands out above the other. Regardless, they are both stellar choices and are primary examples of auto manufacturing done right.
First up is the new 2019 Mazda CX-5, which adds the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims to its line-up. The first three trim levels (the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring) are all powered by a 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine which is capable of getting 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard.
The two new trim levels, however, get a beefed-up turbocharged version of this engine, meaning that there is even more power to be found. The turbo 2.5-L puts out 227 hp (or 250 hp on 91 octane gasoline) and 310 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive comes standard on the new trim levels. All engine options are matched up with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
When it comes to the regular old 2.5-L or the new turbo 2.5-L on the higher trim levels, the turbo wins out. The base engine just doesn't muster up enough power to give the CX-5 an exciting performance. Of course, this means drivers will have to spend more to upgrade to one of the new trim levels.
Is the 2019 Honda CR-V any better? The base LX trim is powered by a 2.4-L 4-cylinder engine that garners the vehicle 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Step that up a trim level to the EX, and the CR-V gets a turbocharged version of this engine. The turbo 2.4-L manages to put out 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque.
The CX-5's new 2.5-L definitely gets the most power, but the CR-V's turbo 2.4-L has a smooth delivery of power as well as a quick acceleration speed. Plus, drivers will not have to spend as much to get that boost in power.
What makes a driving experience enjoyable? Is it the ride quality? A comfortable cabin? A fun slew of infotainment features? Drivers are all looking for different things, but when it comes to all of the drivability factors, one of these two vehicles has slightly more to offer to a diverse group of drivers.
The 2019 Mazda CX-5 struggles when it comes to accelerating and braking, at least on the old 2.5-L engine. As already mentioned, acceleration is sluggish on it, and the brakes feel just average - nothing exciting there. What Mazda does get right is steering and handling. The hefty steering reflects the CX-5's sporty nature, and it makes taking all kinds of turns easy. As far as handling goes, the CX-5 provides plenty of feedback and lets the driver know that they are in control. In other words, its handling is superior to the competition.
There are a few flaws when it comes to comfort inside of the CX-5. The side bolsters up front can be annoying, pushing into the driver and front seat passenger when making a hard turn. The rear seat has a flat bottom which, despite decent enough padding, can make lengthy car rides uncomfortable. There isn't much in the way of road or wind noise, but the engine can be heard growling when the driver puts the pedal to the metal. Also, when in Sport mode, the noise gets exacerbated by Sport mode gripping onto gears a little too long.
That being said, the interior itself is fairly user-friendly. Drivers should have no problem reaching the controls, which are clearly labeled. The one qualm drivers might have is that the armrests are short, making resting the elbows while holding the wheel impossible. Still, it is easy to find a cozy driving position since the driver's seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel are both highly adjustable.
The CX-5's cabin is fairly spacious up front, but in the rear, taller passengers might feel a bit cramped by the seats' sculpture. And, since they are crowded, drivers probably should not have an adult sitting in the small center seat. Still, the quality of everything to be found inside the CX-5 is superb. It's just those pesky side bolsters that get in the way.
The 2019 CX-5 does have a nice array of technology. Smartphone app integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have been added as standard features for the model year, and the infotainment system is simple enough. The only issue drivers might have are with blind-spot monitoring being too touchy when passing other vehicles at a safe distance behind the CX-5. Voice control works surprisingly well, but there are some problems with drivers not being able to get satellite radio to work properly.
That being said, it is time to see how the 2019 Honda CR-V stacks up against the Mazda CX-5 in terms of drivability. First off, the CR-V does have a quicker acceleration from its turbo engine than the base engine on the CX-5. It can get from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. Also, braking feels nice and linear, with the vehicle coming to a stop from 60 mph at a respectable 116 feet.
Steering and handling on the CR-V are quite good but fall ever-so-slightly short of the CX-5. The CR-V's steering inspires driver confidence with its natural feeling and impressive centering. There isn't a lot of body roll to be felt, and the vehicle handles mid-corner bumps (and any bumps in the road) with ease. It just does not have the sporty feeling that makes the CX-5 a bit more exciting to drive. However, everything on the CR-V feels nice and secure.
When it comes to interior design and utility, though, Honda has Mazda beat. Honda's design concepts are incredibly innovative and create spaciousness without sacrificing utility or comfort. Seats on the EX trim level and above are 8-way power adjustable, and the vehicle absorbs bumps quickly to create a smooth ride quality. There is some wind and tire noise, but the engine purrs like a kitten, unlike the growl-y engines on the CX-5.
The tech inside of the CR-V is fairly easy to use, save for a few small buttons on the touchscreen display. Honda has worked hard to correct a lot of their mistakes with regard to how their infotainment system is designed. They incorporate more physical controls than some other auto manufacturers, and they redesigned the infotainment system for 2019 - and for the better. Voice control is the only feature that has noticeable lag, but if the button is pressed long enough, Google Voice or Siri can be used instead.
It needs to be mentioned that cargo space and small item storage areas are highlights of the CR-V. There is a sliding tray up front on the center console that also serves as a cover for stashing small items of big value. Cup-holders abound, and the 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space makes it easy to stash all kinds of items in the rear. Fold the back seats down to max cargo space out to 79.8 cubic feet. That's one of the best numbers in this class. The CX-5's storage space is significantly smaller.
Safety features and ratings should absolutely account for part of the decision-making process when buying a new vehicle. A lot of safety features that used to be offered as options are now becoming standard due to consumer demand. Of course, Mazda and Honda load up their vehicles with all kinds of safety features and strive toward excellence with how safely their vehicles are constructed.
The 2019 Mazda CX-5 has a nice, long list of safety features. This list includes the Smart Brake Support system, which detects potential crashes, gives an alert, and applies the brakes for the driver. Lane keep assist guides the vehicle back into the proper lane whenever it detects the vehicle straying outside of the lines. This comes in handy as it keeps drivers from being too distracted and drifting over the lines. Rear cross-traffic alert works well, but the blind-spot monitoring system is the only feature that needs some tweaking to make it less sensitive.
As for safety scores, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (known by its acronym, NHTSA) assigned the vehicle 5/5 stars overall on its tests. The CX-5 did get marked down to 4/5 stars on its rollover crash test and was assigned a 17.4% chance of experiencing a rollover.
Additionally, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2019 CX-5 "good" ratings on all of the tests it conducted.
The 2019 Honda CR-V has, as of the time this article is written, not been rated by the NHTSA on anything but its rollover. It received 4/5 stars on the rollover test, and it was noted that the CR-V has a 16.3% risk of experiencing a rollover. This is a little bit less than the CX-5, of course, but its fairly average for a vehicle in this class.
Like the CX-5, the CR-V was assigned all "good" ratings on its tests from the IIHS.
Note that the 2019 Honda CR-V is loaded with a bunch of helpful driver aids. The collision monitoring system works well for the most part but is known to occasionally emit a false warning. The EX trim and above all have lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning. Having all of these features come standard on the lower and mid-level trims is a smart idea from Honda since some of its competitors leave these features for the higher trims or just make them optional on lower trim levels.
Which Has the Best Value?
When it comes to overall value, both of these vehicles can be great purchases. Of course, both of them also have their drawbacks. But when it comes to utility, spaciousness, and the features offered on lower trim levels, the CR-V edges out its competition.
The fact that the second trim level in the series (the EX) has a strong turbocharged engine and a ton of safety features that don't come standard on other vehicles' lower trim levels make the CR-V stand out. This is not the sportiest small SUV, but it puts forth a good amount of power and is packed with comfort.
Which is Better?
The 2019 Honda CR-V might be the better buy of the two vehicles, but that does not make the 2019 Mazda CX-5 a bad choice by any means. In fact, it is regarded as the second-best small SUV for 2019. The new turbocharged engine provides more excitement than ever before. Still, the Honda CR-V gives drivers a great deal, especially if they go with one of the mid-level trims.