Car Buying Strategies
Home | New Cars | Subaru | 2022 Subaru Outback

2022 Subaru Outback vs Mazda CX-5

2022 Subaru Outback vs Mazda CX-5

2022 Outback vs CX-5 - How Do They Stack Up? Which is Better?

The Subaru Outback and CX-5 are attractive to many potential buyers, largely thanks to their size, high-tech components, and capability. Both are fortunate to come standard with all-wheel drive, which helps them stand out in a competitive market. These models have sizable lineups, with eight trims being available for each type of vehicle. This guide should highlight what these models have in common and, more importantly, how they differ.

The Powertrain

Both companies have chosen to offer two engine options with these respective SUVs. Higher trims in the inventory are upgraded with turbocharged versions, so they feel much quicker and more responsive than the regular models.

The standard engine on the Outback has a displacement of 2.5 liters. It can make 182 horsepower, along with 176 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged engine is a 2.4-liter version, and it can deliver 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque.

The specifications are very similar with the CX-5. Its first engine option is a 2.5-liter model that generates 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Yes, these numbers are slightly higher than those of the Outback, but the difference is so minimal that most people wouldn't be able to notice. The turbocharged engine that the Mazda can run on is a 2.5-liter version as well. Because of its design, it can make up to 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque.

As mentioned above, the two vehicles come with all-wheel drive. This can help them better deal with slippery roads and trails. Some of the CX-5 trims have a program called Mazda Intelligent Drive Select. It allows users to choose from Sport and Off-Road modes. Additionally, the Mazda has G-Vectoring Control Plus. This program adjusts torque and braking in order to enhance cornering abilities.

The Subaru has some similar features. It has active torque vectoring and vehicle dynamics control, and as a result, the driving experience is smoother. The Subaru has hill descent control to keep it from gaining too much speed when going down roads with steep grades. Anyone who has driven in the mountains knows how difficult it can be to maintain a certain speed without having to ride the brakes; hill descent control can be very much appreciated in certain situations.

The Outback also has X-Mode. X-Mode optimizes performance when it's particularly hard to grip the roads. It does by monitoring individual wheelspin and being ready to make precise adjustments to engine torque.

If anyone wants to tow cargo with either of these models, the following is going to be important to remember. The CX-5 has a decent towing capacity of 2,000 pounds, but the Outback can do much better than that. An Outback with a standard engine can tow 2,700 pounds, and one with a turbocharged engine can haul up to 3,500 pounds. This is a considerable increase over what the Mazda can do.

Mazda has given the CX-5 a six-speed automatic transmission. It has a manual shift mode in case people want to take more control over that aspect of driving. Half of the available trims have paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.

Subaru went with a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. It, too, has a manual mode. It offers eight different speeds. All trims in the lineup have steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

The two vehicles fall in the same general range when it comes to fuel economy. The regular CX-5s have an estimated fuel economy of 24/30 (city/highway) miles per gallon. Turbocharged models don't do quite as well, having fuel economies of 22/27 miles per gallon. In comparison, an Outback with a regular engine can earn 26/33 miles per gallon, and one with a turbocharged engine can earn 23/30 miles per gallon.

Now, there is one last thing that needs to be mentioned before moving on to other topic. It's the fact that there's a special trim of the Outback called the Wilderness. It doesn't do that great in the efficiency department, having a fuel economy of 22/26 miles per gallon, but it's been upgraded in several key ways.

First, its X-Mode program is an advanced dual-function mechanism. It has specific Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes, and it can effectively deal with a variety of situations. Also, the Outback Wilderness comes standard with off-road wheels and all-terrain tires, as well as a full-size spare just in case anything happens during an adventure off the beaten path. The engine has been re-tuned to allow for better low-speed climbing.

The Wilderness sits 9.5 inches off the ground and has been designed to clear obstacles. In comparison, the other Outbacks sits 8.7 inches of the ground and the CX-5 has a ground clearance of 7.6 inches.


The Outback is definitely the larger out of the two vehicles. It has a length of 191.3 inches, putting it about 11 inches longer than the CX-5. This is somewhat significant. Of course, it means that the Outback has more interior space, but it also means that it might be harder to get in and out of tight parking spots. The Subaru is about an inch wider and and taller than the Mazda as well.

The size differential is clearly evident when looking at overall cargo space. With the rear seats down, the Outback has a maximum cargo capacity of 75.7 cubic feet. The CX-5 is able to offer 59.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Behind the rear seats, the Mazda has a space that has a volume of 30.8 cubic feet, which is much closer to the 32.5 cubic feet that the Subaru offers.

Both vehicles have room for up to five passengers. Second-row leg room is generous in the two models. They each have nearly 40 inches of leg room for passengers riding in the back.

To keep people comfortable, there are many available amenities. Most Outbacks have heated front seats, and they could also have heated second-row seats, heated steering wheels, and front-row ventilation. The same can be said for the CX-5.

Other convenient features that are found in these are push-button start, power rear gates, and driver's seat memory. Notably, the CX-5 comes standard with push button start, but the Outback does not. The Outback, though, has an available hands-free power rear gate.

Technology plays a big role in making things so much easier these days. When driving around, people now have many options for keeping themselves entertained, and they have several ways to look up important information.

The first trim of the Subaru has a seven-inch touchscreen. It's equipped with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The other trims have 11.6-inch touchscreens, along with Wi-Fi capability. Navigation is available on some trims and standard on a few others. The basic audio package consists of four speakers; most Outbacks have six speakers, and some have 12 speakers as part of a premium Harman Kardon sound system.

Measuring 10.25 inches, the screen on the Mazda CX-5 is prominently featured. Like the Subaru, this SUV comes with Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility. SiriusXM is only found on the top four trims, but all of them get to have Pandora internet radio integration. In addition, the highest trim has built-in navigation.

Like that of the Outback, the base trim of the CX-5 has four speakers. Mid-level ones have six speakers, and the top trims have ten-speaker Bose sound systems.

To keep devices charged, it can be important to have multiple charging options. Subaru set up every Outback with a pair of front USB ports, and most models have another pair of USB ports for second-row passengers. It's almost the same story with the Mazda. The exception is that the top two trims have wireless charging pads.


Subaru has built a reputation for designing safe vehicles, and the Outback lives up to that. It comes standard with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This package provides a driver with adaptive cruise control and lane centering, and it gives the vehicle the ability to hit the brakes if necessary to avoid an accident or lessen an impact. Plus, it has lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Automatic high beams are another standard component.

There are a few other safety systems found on higher trims. One is a distraction mitigation system that can alert drivers when it seems like they're not paying close attention to the road. Another is reverse automatic braking, and this would work with the available rear cross-traffic monitoring program. Blind-spot detection and front-view monitors are also available.

Every CX-5 trim has the same components that are standard in the Outback, plus a few more. The CX-5 benefits from having standard blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. This can be a key point, since these systems are so helpful in picking up on vehicles that are difficult to see.

The top trim of the CX-5 has a 360-degree monitor and front and rear parking sensors. It has a driver attention alert program and reverse automatic braking as well. It further gets to have traffic sign recognition and an active driving display, which can remind the driver of important information like traffic warnings and speed limits.

Which Has the Best Value?

There is a wide range of choices, so the prices vary considerably. The two companies have chosen to make fairly affordable base trims. The entry-level Outback costs about $27,650, and the first CX-5 trim has a cost of $26,250. They have similar packages, and while the CX-5 doesn't have SiriusXM like the Outback does, it does have a few more safety elements.

Mid-level trims start to offer much more. For instance, they have power-adjustable seats and can have moonroofs and leather upholstery. The mid-level CX-5s are cheaper than those of the Outback. Take the Outback Limited versus the CX-5 Preferred. These are the third trims in their respective lineups. The Outback Limited costs about $35,000, and the Preferred only has a price tag of approximately $29,500.

The trend continues when moving higher up in the lineup. There is a price jump when switching the regular engine in the CX-5 out for a turbocharged one. The Turbo costs $36,750 and the Turbo Signature costs $39,000. They're decked out with high-end features and feel pretty luxurious.

With the Outback, the top half of the lineup has turbocharged engines. These vehicles start at $35,845, and the most sophisticated Outback costs $40,645. Again, these have so many features packed into them, so they seem quite advanced.

It's hard to say which one has the better value. There are some minor discrepancies, with the Outback costing a bit more than the CX-5, but remember that the Outback comes with much more interior space.

Which is Better?

It's likely that the Subaru Outback will attract the attention of people who value capability and want vehicles that are large and ready to hold all kinds of gear. The Outback has a much higher towing capacity than the CX-5 does, and it sits higher off the ground. Most would agree that this model feels more rugged and would seem to be perfectly at home in the woods or off on a trail somewhere.

The CX-5 can certainly handle itself well, especially if it's been upgraded with a turbocharged engine. However, it doesn't have the same adventurous style that the Outback does. Instead, it looks more sophisticated with its streamlined appearance. Passengers will be comfortable in the CX-5; it just can't be packed with as much gear as the Outback can. It does shine in terms of its technology, and it would prove to be an excellent choice for anyone who needs a reliable SUV.

View Comparisons for other Years:

2021 Subaru Outback VS Mazda CX-5
Follow Us:

Face Book

Copyright ©