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Smaller SUVs and crossovers are appealing to many because of their versatility and practicality. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and Mazda CX-5 are two excellent options for people looking for these types of vehicles. First of all, they're reasonably priced, and this will surely boost their popularity. The two models handle themselves well and can be equipped with advanced technology. It's actually quite impressive what new vehicles can treat people to these days.
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.
One of the Subaru's available powertrains is a hybrid. It's only available in limited quantities, but those who do get this engine will certainly appreciate that it has an estimated combined fuel economy of 90 MPGe. It uses a 2.0-liter engine and an electric motor to generate its energy, and it has a net horsepower of 148. It might not be the most powerful type of powertrain available, but it still comes with a towing rating. It can tow up to 1,000 pounds.
There's another Crosstrek powertrain that's also a 2.0-liter version. As a non-hybrid, it doesn't have the electrical component. It has a little more power than the hybrid does, with 152 horsepower and a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.
Then, there's a more capable engine that's available in two Crosstrek trims, the Sport and the Limited. It's a larger engine with a displacement of 2.5 liters, and like the others, it has four cylinders. Its size gives it the ability to generate more power. It comes with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It, too, can tow 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 two engines available on the CX-5 are also four-cylinder models. They're actually both 2.5-liter engines, and they have towing capacities of 2,000 pounds. The difference is that one is a standard engine while the other has a turbocharger. The standard engine has 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, which is already more than what the Subaru Crosstrek can do. Having a turbocharged engine gives the CX-5 up to 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. This is a really impressive capability and is sure to be noticed by potential customers.
Every CX-5 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and there's the option to get all-wheel drive. If all-wheel drive is selected, there would be an off-road traction assist mode that can be useful when dealing with challenging situations.
No matter what type of engine is chosen, the Mazda would have a six-speed automatic transmission. It has a manual mode in case a driver wants to decide exactly when to shift up or down. Its sport mode can be utilized whenever people want things to be more exciting.
A Mazda CX-5 can achieve up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 25 miles per gallon in the city. If it has a turbo engine and/or all-wheel drive, those numbers drop a bit. In comparison, the best that a non-hybrid Subaru Crosstrek can do is 33 miles per gallon on the highway and 28 miles per gallon in the city. Of course, the hybrid Crosstrek is going to be in a completely different category with its 90 MPGe.
Subaru and Mazda offer the same type of powertrain limited warranties on these vehicles. They're good for five years or 60,00 miles, whichever comes first.
Any driver would have an easy time handling these small SUVs. They feel like sedans in some ways, but they have the open cargo areas that make them feel more spacious. Since the CX-5 is the more powerful model, it does feel more responsive and is more fun to drive than the Crosstrek is.
The CX-5 is a few inches longer than the Crosstrek. Its length is 179.1 inches, and the Crosstrek's length is 176.5 inches. The CX-5 is also slightly wider and taller than the Crosstrek, so overall, it feels more like a traditional SUV than a crossover. However, the Crosstrek sits higher off the ground. It has a fairly high ground clearance of 8.7 inches. With the CX-5, ground clearance is 7.5 inches.
It makes sense that the CX-5 would have the larger interior space. It has a maximum cargo capacity of 59.6 cubic feet when the rear seats are down. When those seats are up, the rear cargo area has a volume of 30.9 cubic feet. The rear cargo area in the Crosstrek only has a volume of 20.8 cubic feet. When the Subaru's rear seats are folded down, there's 55.3 cubic feet of space to store items. The difference in maximum cargo capacity between the two models isn't that significant, but the difference in the size of the rear cargo areas is very noticeable.
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.
USB ports might be minor features, but they're highly sought after because everyone wants their devices to have plenty of power. The base model of the Crosstrek comes with one USB port. The rest of its models have two front USB ports, and the top three trims have two additional rear USB charging ports. In contrast, every CX-5 has dual front USB ports. The top five trims have an additional pair of USB charging ports for rear passengers to access.
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.
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There are many impressive features that can be found in these models. In the Subaru, there can be a safety package called EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. It has adaptive cruise control with lane centering so that the vehicle can stay in position and a safe distance away from other vehicles. It can also have lane departure warning and pre-collision braking. This safety package is standard on the higher trims and available on the lower trims.
The top two Crosstrek trims have even more features. They have automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking. It can be so helpful to have all of these systems looking out for issues and potentially taking action to make things safer.
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.
The top trim of the Mazda CX-5 has reverse emergency braking in case a driver is about to back up into something. It has front and rear parking sensors as well, and these can alert drivers when they're getting too close to objects. Plus, the trim has a driver attention alert system and a 360-degree monitor. This last feature, in particular, is really futuristic and can be very much appreciated when maneuvering in tight spaces.
Which Has the Best Value?
Remember that everything comes at a cost. If it seems like the CX-5 has a lot of extra features, that's because it costs more than the Crosstrek does. The Crosstrek starts out at $22,245, and the CX-5's starting price is $25,370.
The remaining trims all have this price discrepancy when comparing the Crosstrek to the CX-5. The Premium, Sport, and Limited trims of the Crosstrek cost $23,295, $26,495, and $27,995, respectively. There's a somewhat larger jump between the Premium and Sport because of the safety and capability upgrades that accompany this transition. With the Mazda, the next three trims cost $27,110, $28,955, and $30,560.
The three other trims of the CX-5 all run on turbocharged engines. They're priced at $30,760, $35,385, and $37,505. This is around the same price that the Crosstrek Hybrid costs, which is $35,345. With the Crosstrek Hybrid, customers are being asked to pay more for the hybrid powertrain. It does have some high-end features, but it doesn't compare to what the CX-5 offers with its top trims. Those models feel quite refined and sophisticated.
Keep in mind that the Mazda has the more comprehensive safety package, and many people would think that it has the nicer infotainment package as well. This is in addition to it being the more powerful vehicle.
The CX-5 certain has many more available amenities than the Crosstrek does. It can have heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel along with navigation and a 360-degree camera. Nappa leather seats are found in the Signature's trim, and more than a few models have leather seats and a power moonroof. Every trim has LED headlights and side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
These elements are just not comparable to what the Crosstrek offers. Only some of its trims have integrated turn signals in its side mirrors, and only its top trims have LED headlights. A moonroof is an option on most trims, but not standard in any. Further, the Crosstrek doesn't have ventilated front seats, nor does it have heated rear seats, not to mention the lack of standard navigation in its most premium trims.
Which is Better?
It's pretty clear that the CX-5 is the more upscale vehicle. It has a much longer list of standard and available features, and it has more interior space. This can all greatly affect the overall driving experience. Some elements, like the turbocharged engine, can heavily impact driving, while others are simply nice to have. Some people love the idea of having a moonroof, for example.
However, price needs to be factored into the decision-making process. The reality is that the Crosstrek is attractive because of its standard all-wheel drive, infotainment system, available safety package, and perhaps most importantly, its relatively low cost. The hybrid version is significantly more expensive than the others, but it's going to get some attention from certain buyers because of its efficiency.
If someone can afford the Mazda CX-5 and prefers to have those higher-quality components, then it would be an excellent purchase. This is especially true if someone wants to have a turbocharged engine. If someone wants more of a basic vehicle that's reliable, then the Subaru Crosstrek would be a good choice.