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2021 Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-5

2021 Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-5
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2021 Crosstrek vs CX-5 - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Looking for a vehicle with the perfect combination of space, practicality, and affordability? The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and Mazda CX-5 offer just that. For an alluring price tag, both models provide impressive handling capabilities as well as advanced technology features - making them two standout options in today's SUV/crossover market.

The Powertrain

Both models have more than one type of powertrain to consider. With the Subaru Crosstrek, there are three options, and with the Mazda CX-5, there are two.

The latest Crosstrek from Subaru features two different powertrains. For eco-friendly drivers, the hybrid version offers an impressive 90 MPGe combined fuel economy thanks to a combination of 2.0-liter engine and electric motor technology – all with 148 horsepower on tap! Even better is that it still has plenty of grunt for light towing duties up to 1,000 pounds.

Those looking for greater pulling capacity can opt instead for the non-hybrid 2.0 liter offering which gives 152 horses but doubles its dragging potential by yielding a further 500 pound tow rating than its green counterpart at 1,500 lbs maximum load.

If you're looking for even more power and capability, then consider the engine in two of our Crosstrek trims: Sport and Limited. This larger 2.5-liter four cylinder offers an impressive 182 horsepower plus 176 pound-feet of torque - giving it enough strength to tow up to 1,500 pounds.

Every Crosstrek trim is equipped with a lineartronic continuously variable transmission. Every trim has all-wheel drive as well. This is a key point, since all-wheel drive can really improve traction in many kinds of situations.

In particularly challenging conditions, X-MODE can come in handy. It enhances all-wheel-drive capabilities to reduce wheel spin. Hill Descent Control can be engaged if a driver doesn't want to pick up too much when traveling down steep inclines. These two features are standard on the top three trims and available on the others.

The Mazda CX-5 caters to a wide range of drivers by offering two powerful four-cylinder engines. Both the standard engine and its turbocharged counterpart offer reliable performance and impressive power; with 187 horsepower from the former, up to 250 horsepower available from the latter! Its maximum tow rating is also noteworthy at 2,000 pounds - even outdoing competitors such as Subaru Crosstrek in that regard.

The CX-5 offers drivers the perfect balance of performance and convenience - whatever you want, it's got your back. With either front or all wheel drive available for any engine type, a 6 speed automatic transmission with manual mode to get that extra power when needed and sport mode taking things up an exciting notch – this ride is guaranteed to never disappoint.

The Mazda CX-5 is a great choice for fuel efficiency, boasting up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 25 in town - though you'll see those figures dip slightly if it's equipped with a turbo engine or all wheel drive. Compared to its Subaru counterpart, however things shift as the non hybrid Crosstrek achieves 33 MPG out of town but 28 around it; while the environmentally friendly Crosstrek Hybrid excels way ahead with an impressive 90 MPGe.

Drivability and Size

The CX-5 offers a bigger, bolder take on the classic SUV feel. At 179.1 inches long and with more width and height than its rival Crosstrek (176.5 inches), it’s clear that you get something unique when choosing the former option - yet if off roading is your thing, then don’t forget about how much higher up you sit in the crossover – 8.7 versus 7.5 inches of ground clearance.

With more than twice the cargo room of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, it's no surprise that Mazda CX-5 offers a greater interior space. Its maximum capacity reaches up to 59.6 cubic feet while folding down its rear seats - an impressive figure compared to Crosstrek's 55.3 when folded and 30.9 versus 20.8 with rear seat upright. The large storage capabilities make this vehicle perfect for any journey from everyday errands or long road trips alike.

Leg room shouldn't be an issue with the CX-5. In the front, there's 41 inches of leg room, and in the back, there's 39.6 inches. In the Subaru Crosstrek, rear-seat leg room is only 36.5 inches. This may not work out well for taller passengers on long road trips. In the front, there is plenty of space with there being up to 43.1 inches of leg room.

This next part of the overview will discuss technology. Technology plays a key role in today's automative market because certain features can make things more convenient. Every trim of the Crosstrek and CX-5 has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth, so it can be easier to stay connected, access certain information that's been stored on smartphones, and make hands-free phone calls.

The entry-level trim of the Subaru Crosstrek has a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Moving one trim up in the lineup gets a customer SiriusXM Satellite Radio and six speakers instead of four. At this level, Wi-Fi capability becomes standard. The top two trims have eight-inch touchscreens, with navigation and Harman Kardon premium sound systems being optional.

Every Mazda CX-5 has a 10.25-inch full-color display, along with HD Radio and Pandora internet radio integration. Like the base model of the Crosstrek, the first trim of the CX-5 only has four speakers. The second trim has six speakers, and all the rest have ten Bose speakers with Centerpoint 2 sound technology. Out of the seven total trims of the Mazda, the top three have SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and the top trim has integrated navigation and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.

When it comes to power, USB ports are a must-have. The Crosstrek allows drivers and passengers their own dedicated port with one in the base model and two up front on its higher trims, plus an added pair of rear charging ports for those top three models. Meanwhile, Mazda's CX-5 is even more accommodating - dual USBs come standard at all levels regardless of trim level leaving four total within reach when traveling in upper tiers.

Another element that's standard on the CX-5 is Mazda Connected Services. This allows for interaction between a vehicle and a smartphone. If this service is engaged, then a driver could remotely start an engine or lock the doors. Further, it lets the vehicle act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.


Subaru offers some incredible features with its lineup of vehicles, such as the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This revolutionary safety package - standard on higher trims and available for lower models - employs advanced technology to keep you safe behind the wheel like adaptive cruise control that keeps your car at a steady distance from other cars, lane departure warning so you can avoid leaving your lines unintentionally, and pre-collision braking in case of an imminent impact.

With the top two Crosstrek trims, you can drive with peace of mind knowing that advanced features are looking out for you. Automatic high beams and blind spot monitoring detect potential hazards on the road while rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking provide an extra layer of safety by taking action to help avert disaster.

Similar components are integrated into the Mazda CX-5. In fact, there is a more comprehensive safety package in the Mazda. Like the Crosstrek, it has adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure warning. It has lane-keep assist so it can correct steering as necessary, and it has blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert as standard components. Its pre-collision braking not only works if there are vehicles in the Mazda's path but also if there are pedestrians in the road.

With the Mazda CX-5's top trim, safety is a priority. It features reverse emergency braking for added protection when backing up and parking sensors to warn you of nearby objects in tight spaces. But that’s not all! You also receive an intuitive driver attention alert system and 360-degree monitor to ensure your focus remains on the road ahead during every journey - guaranteeing maximum security at all times.

Which Has the Best Value

If you're looking for a car that offers more features without breaking the bank, take a look at the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Crosstrek. The CX-5 comes with extra bells and whistles - but also an increased cost. Alternatively, if your budget is tight consider opting for the affordable Crosstrek which packs nearly all of what you need at almost $3000 less than its competitor's starting price.

When comparing the Crosstrek to the CX-5, there's a price discrepancy across all remaining trims. With the Subaru, you can upgrade from Premium ($23,295) through Sport and Limited (at $26,495 and $27995 respectively) for added safety features - though be aware that there is an extra jump in cost between Premium and Sport. The Mazda follows with its corresponding upgrades at more expensive pricing points: starting at midgrade level of $27,110 up until topping out with Luxury trim levels priced at just over thirty grand ($30,560).

The CX-5 lineup offers turbocharged performance, with trims ranging in price from the affordable $30,760 to a still modestly priced top trim of just over $37k. Alternatively - and at nearly identical cost – you can opt for the Crosstrek Hybrid which is equipped with high-end features… but pales in comparison to what's included on those more sophisticated variants of the CX-5.

Boasting a plethora of impressive features, the CX-5 stands out from its competitors. From navigation and 360-degree cameras to Nappa leather seats in Signature's trim - every driver has something special to look forward to with this model. Additions like heated front & rear seats as well as ventilated first rows provide comfort above all else while LED headlights & integrated turn signals ensure safety on roads ahead! With power moonroofs available too, luxury know no bounds for those behind the wheel of Mazda’s acclaimed vehicle.

With the Crosstrek, you don't get all of the bells and whistles that other vehicles may offer. While its top trims boast LED headlights and some have integrated turn signals in their side mirrors, a moonroof isn’t included as standard on any trim level. And if ventilated front seats or heated rear ones are important to you - look elsewhere! Navigation is also not part of what's available at even its most premium levels.

Which is Better?

The CX-5 stands out as the superior, more luxurious choice. It boasts an extensive range of both standard and optional features that greatly enhance comfort levels on the road. Then there are those extra touches like a turbocharged engine for maximum power or a moonroof for extraordinary views - all designed to elevate your driving experience beyond expectations.

The Crosstrek makes for a compelling choice due to its attractive features like standard all-wheel drive, convenient infotainment system and robust safety package. Not only that, but it stands out as an affordable option when compared with the higher priced hybrid version - which may still draw in certain buyers thanks to its improved efficiency.

For any driver who appreciates a reliable and enjoyable ride, the Mazda CX-5 is an ideal choice. Offering turbocharged power and superior quality components, it promises performance as well as peace of mind. On the other hand if straightforward dependability is your priority then don't miss out on Subaru Crosstrek's no-nonsense capability - perfect for those seeking hassle free motoring.

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