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2021 Toyota RAV4 vs Mazda CX-5

2021 Toyota RAV4 vs Mazda CX-5

2021 RAV4 vs CX-5 - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Many of today’s drivers prefer the affordability of a small crossover. Known for its sporty driving dynamics and upscale cabin, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 definitely ranks among the segment’s top picks. Another great option is the 2021 Toyota RAV4, which continues to win over fans with its versatility. This head-to-head comparison will help car shoppers decide which one of these SUVs is the better choice.

The Powetrain

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 gives you access to two different powertrains. We expect the CX-5’s standard four-cylinder engine to be a popular selection. Mazda rates it to develop a 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, which is perfect for most commuters. Tuned to produce up to 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, the CX-5’s available turbo four-cylinder engine really raises the performance meter. Both engines send power through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Motivating the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a four-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Most models in the segment don’t pack as much standard horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission helps ensure a smooth power delivery.

When equipped with its base engine, the Mazda CX-5 proves to be a more than suitable daily-driver. There’s enough oomph under the hood when drivers need to merge onto a crowded freeway. However, expect the slightly more potent RAV4 to accelerate just a tad quicker. Folks who desire a legitimately quick SUV should check out the turbocharged CX-5. A 0-60 mph time of around 6.3 seconds puts it among the segment’s fastest models.

Owners rave about CX-5’s excellent maneuverability. The 2021 Mazda CX-5's athleticism will appeal to driving enthuisints. It drives more like a sporty hatchback as opposed to a traditional SUV. Standard G-Vectoring Control Plus enhances the CX-5’s sharp driving dynamics. By shifting the SUV’s weight forward when taking curves, this class-exclusive system helps the front tires to better grip the road. G-Vectoring Control Plus also applies light braking force to the outer wheels for improved cornering.

While the 2021 Toyota RAV4 may not be quite as sporty as the CX-5, it still inspires a great deal of confidence in the city and on the highway. Nonetheless, don’t expect the RAV4 to offer as much driving fun. Most people will find the CX-5 to be more entertaining. Quicker steering and nimbler handling give the CX-5 an added fun factor. Keep in mind that a performance-tuned suspension is no longer offered on the RAV4.

Despite not being made for hardcore trails, the CX-5 can handle a weekend camping adventure. Along with its optional AWD system comes Off-Road Traction Assist, which helps prevent traction loss on slippery ground. Serious outdoor lovers will prefer the more rugged RAV4 TRD Off-Road. It is designed to face more challenging conditions. Among the RAV4 TRD Off-Road’s upgrades include trail-tuned shock absorbers, a raised suspension, all-terrain tires. A torque-vectoring AWD system is also featured on the TRD Off-Road model.

In terms of gas mileage, CX-5 models equipped with the base engine have an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 25 mpg town/31 mpg freeway. Upgrading to the CX-5’s turbo engine results in a lower rating of 23 mpg town/28 mpg freeway. While the turbocharged CX-5’s can safely use regular unleaded gasoline, premium is required for maximum output.

Fuel economy estimates for the Toyota RAV4 are even better. Drivers can anticipate getting up to 28 mpg town/35 mpg freeway on regular unleaded. However, the more rugged RAV4 TRD Off-Road isn’t quite as frugal. It returns roughly 25 mpg town/32 mpg highway.

Like the 2021 Mazda CX-5, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a strong braking system. When traveling at a speed of 60 mph, tests show the CX-5 takes 125 feet to come to a complete stop. By comparison, the RAV4 has a 60-0 mph braking distance of 126 feet.

Toyota has long held a reputation for producing easy-to-maintain, long-lasting vehicles. However, the latest RAV4 isn’t as bulletproof as previous generations. It earns a 3.0 out of 5.0 rating in long-term dependability, which is average. Car shoppers will notice that the CX-5 has an identical 3.0 dependability rating. Both of these crossovers provide the same warranty protection. While the original bumper-to-bumper warranty lasts for 36,000 miles, the powertrain warranty covers owners for 60,000 miles.


Regardless of which SUV a person decides to choose, they can look forward to enjoying a smooth ride. Both of these crossovers do an admirable job of absorbing harsh impacts. Families will have no concerns about taking these vehicles on a long road trip. With that said, the RAV4 slightly edges out the CX-5 in overall ride comfort. When driving the sporty CX-5 over rough pavement, passengers may feel a few more bumps.

When it comes to interior noise levels, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 takes the edge. Its well-insulation cabin keeps outside interference to a minimal. This quality helps make the CX-5 feel quite luxurious. Although the RAV4’s interior isn’t terribly loud, passengers will hear more wind noise at highway speeds. Some testers have also described the sound of the RAV4’s engine as being a bit on the harsh side.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 are both accommodating family haulers. However, greater rear legroom gives the CX-5 an advantage in overall passenger comfort. Occupants will have an extra 1.8 inches of legroom to stretch out. There is more shoulder room in the RAV4's rear seat, which will prove to be valuable when three people are sitting in the back. Expect these SUVs to offer the same amount of front-seat legroom.

Automotive reviewers applaud both of these SUVs for their well-cushioned seats. Upgrades, like heated leather seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, are available. However, the RAV4 does not offer a power-adjustable passenger seat or ventilated front seats.

These crossovers can accommodate your extra stuff. While the CX-5 has 31 cubic feet of cargo space behind its second row, the RAV4’s cargo hold provides an even more impressive 37.6 cubic feet of storage space.

RAV4 owners appreciate the SUV’s great outward visibility. There are not many distracting blind spots. Side mirrors mounted on the doors help drivers to spot other vehicles. You can also expect the CX-5 to provide satisfactory outward visibility. Its thin windshield pillars help ensure a good view of the road. Drivers shouldn’t have any trouble navigating in highway traffic.

Both of these SUVs have a modern infotainment system. For 2021, the CX-5 now comes standard with an upgraded 10.25-inch touchscreen. Drivers will appreciate the interface’s much sharper graphics and faster response times. A console-mounted controller is included for easier operation while on the road. Meanwhile, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto mobile integration enables drivers to access their smartphone’s functions.

The RAV4 comes standard with a noticeably smaller 7.0-inch touchscreen. However, the unit is responsive and easy to use. As the buyers climb the trim ladder, they will have access to a larger 8.0-inch touch display. Standard Amazon Alexa is a feature not found on the CX-5.

A built-in Wi-Fi hotspot is standard on both SUVs. This means families can connect to the web from any location. While the CX-5 offers a 10-speaker Bose sound system, the RAV4 can be equipped with an 11-speaker JBL stereo. These upgraded audio system promise to provide a more exciting soundtrack. Other common options include a 7.0-inch digital gauge display, wireless smartphone charging, and navigation.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
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The 2021 Mazda CX-5 gets high marks for its superior crash scores. Excellent impact protection enabled the CX-5 to earn the NHTSA’s coveted five-star overall safety rating. A best-in-class IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating gives CX-5 buyers greater confidence.

In many ways, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is just as secure as the new CX-5. This vehicle received an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the NHTSA. While the RAV4 was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, it missed out on earning IIHS Top Safety Pick+ credentials. The RAV4’s standard headlights were given a poor rating.

Some valuable safety technologies come standard on these vehicles. Highlights include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian alert, intelligent cruise control, and lane-keep assist.

There are also a few other exclusive safety innovations on the RAV4’s list of standard equipment. Lane-tracing assist helps keep the SUV centered in its lane, even when encountering curves. While the CX-5 offers road sign recognition, only the RAV4 provides this technology as standard equipment. Buyers can also take advantage of the RAV4’s available digital rearview mirror, which helps drivers to spot vehicles hidden in their blind spot.

Be aware that only the CX-5 receives standard blind-spot monitoring. This is defintely among today’s most sought-after drivign aids. Nighttime travelers will appreciate the CX-5’s optional adaptive LED headlights, which are not offered on the RAV4. Reverse automatic braking is also exclusively available on the CX-5.

These SUVs simply the task of parking by offering an optional surround-view camera system. Front and rear parking sensors are available as well.

Which Has the Best Value?

Prices for the 2021 Mazda CX-5 start a competitive $25,270. Meanwhile, Toyota lists the RAV4 with a starting MSRP of just over $26,000. At the end of the day, both SUVs prove to be strong values. They come loaded with must-have features.

Drivers seeking the utmost luxury will be comparing the CX-5 Signature and the RAV4 Limited. While the CX-5 Signature demands $37,400, the RAV4 Limited costs $34,600 before adding any options. Although the CX-5 Signature may have a higher MSRP, it does come loaded with a greater number of premium features. Heated rear seats, a surround-view camera, and wireless device charging are all optional on the RAV4 Limited.

Which Is Better?

Like the 2021 Mazda CX-5, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a highly recommended small crossover. While these SUVs have a lot in common, there are also some big differences to consider. Drivers must think about what they care about the most.

In terms of overall driving fun on the street, the CX-5 comes out on top. It offers better road handling and quicker acceleration with Mazda’s optional turbocharged engine. While the RAV4 is great for commuting, don’t expect it to be quite as engaging to drive. Keep in mind that drivers can save more fuel by choosing the RAV4.

Adventure seekers who regularly travel off the beaten path will prefer the RAV4. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road is more suitable for tackling the rough backcountry. Aside from having a higher ground clearance and trail-rated shocks, this SUV also benefits from a torque-vectoring AWD system.

When it comes to overall comfort and safety, these SUVs are a close match. However, the CX-5’s higher trim levels feel especially upscale. Nappa leather upholstery and genuine wood interior trim make the range-topping CX-5 feel more like a high-end luxury vehicle. Car shoppers should also consider the styling of these SUVs. While some people may like the RAV4’s more rugged exterior, others will favor the CX-5’s sleek profile.

The CX-5 is a rewarding small SUV. It stands out in several key aspects. There are many drivers who will favor the CX-5’s sporty performance and premium interior. On the other hand, more impressive off-road capabilities and extra cargo space give car shoppers reason to pick the RAV4.

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