[MUSIC PLAYING] LAUREN MCCAY: It already feels like it is going to be a hot, hot summer. And when it's a scorcher out, there's nothing like having your favorite kind of ice cream as the perfect antidote. Mmm, so good. But what happens when your favorite flavor gets a little competition? Well, that's essentially what we have going on today with these three small SUVs.
Hey, what's up? I'm Lauren McCay from Edmunds, a fan favorite flavor. Say that 10 times fast. Especially among young professionals and couples, the Honda CR-V has two new competitors on the market.
And in this video, we're going to see how they match up. Which vehicle is the best family vehicle for you, while also reminding you why the CR-V is usually our flavor of choice. And my buddy, Ryan ZumAllen, is here with me to talk all things cars. Ryan, are you ready for this?
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Lauren, I got my ice cream. I'm ready to go. Let's do this.
LAUREN MCCAY: Do it. But first, don't wait, go ahead right now and hit that like Subscribe button so you can catch all of our videos. And if you're in the market, head over to edmunds.com/sellmycar so you can get a cash offer today.
When people ask you about your favorite flavor, the inevitable comes next. Why? So here's why we-- and so many others-- love the CR-V. And let's just be clear, this isn't just affection here. This is cold, hard facts, as it's our top rated small SUV. And it's been that way for years. For what you get it's incredibly cost efficient. It ranges anywhere between $28,000 and $38,000, not bad at all.
We've bought and owned a few CR-Vs over the years ourselves. You can go check out the videos we did on it a while back. Now, I should note that this is the current and outgoing generation of the CR-V. They are coming up with a new one, and it's a full redesign. We got a little peek at it. You can check out Alister's video on that.
So overall, it's practical, fuel efficient, has exceptional cargo space, and so much more, which totally makes sense why it came in at number three as the best selling car in the world last year.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Well said, Lauren. And no doubt, the CR-V makes a really strong case, but I want to take a minute and talk about the Kia Sportage over there. It's a 2023 model and it's been fully redesigned. Not only that, but this is the fifth generation of the Sportage. So it's been around a little while now. It also comes at a good price. It ranges between almost $27,000 and $38,000.
So it's not too far off from the CR-V, but here's the main thing with the new Sportage. A few years ago, Kia hit an absolute home-run with the Telluride, and it's been our Edmunds Top Rated SUV for three years in a row. Now, some of those features from the Telluride have been trickling down into other Kia models. So if the Sportage got some of that DNA, it could pose a serious threat here.
LAUREN MCCAY: All right, Ryan, I feel you. You make some good points. And Kia has been stepping it up.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Definitely.
LAUREN MCCAY: Who's also stepping up, well, actually, stepping out is Mazda with this brand new CX-50. Not to be confused with the CX-5, though they're very similar. You could think of them as, like, first cousins.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: That works.
LAUREN MCCAY: First cousins.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Yeah.
LAUREN MCCAY: Yeah. It is a little pricier than both the CR-V and Sportage, ranging between $28,000 and $43,000, but we have a bit of a sweet spot for Mazdas because their MO usually consists of some sporty performance flair in their vehicles. And that's one thing that we really like. So Ryan, we have one that has a very established rep, another that's trying to enhance its rep a bit--
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Yes.
LAUREN MCCAY: And the other that's trying to build a new rep.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Definitely. And the only way-- we're still talking ice cream, right?
LAUREN MCCAY: Of course.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: OK. To know which flavor we like the best is to do a deeper dive. While we love the Honda CR-V, its engine isn't our favorite of the bunch here. A turbocharged 1.5 liter and it's plenty competent, maybe even a little quick, but speed is not why you buy a CR-V. That little engine makes 190 horsepower and it's sent through a continuously variable transmission, or CVT. Which we don't usually like, but this one isn't bad. And the whole experience feels smooth and consistent.
We've tested one just like this from 0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds. It gets the job done. The CR-V is EPA rated at 30 MPG combined for front wheel drive models and 29 MPG all-wheel drive versions, like this one. But depending on how you drive, you can beat it pretty easily. In fact, on our evaluation loop we registered over 35 MPG in 115 miles. Wow.
LAUREN MCCAY: The Mazda CX-50, on the other hand, is a delight. The base 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder engine makes 187 horsepower. But our tester is the optional turbocharged version, and that baby has 256 horses. Get the turbo and you get a clear emphasis on the CX-50's sporty nature compared with the Honda and Kia. We tested the CX-50 with its turbo engine from 0 to 60 and 7.2 seconds. Mighty quick for an affordable compact SUV. But more than that, the power is responsive, smooth, and happy to stretch its legs. Reminding us why Mazda holds a sweet spot in our hearts when it comes to driving enjoyment.
Now, as for fuel economy, the CX-50 is EPA rated at 27 MPG combined for the base engine and 25 MPG combined for the turbo. Quite a ways off from the CR-V. On our test route, it got 25.8 MPG, a little better than expected, but you can definitely have a trade off for that fun experience.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Now, for the Sportage. Oh, Sportage, Sportage, Sportage. This little guy comes with a 2.5 liter, 4 cylinder under the hood, making 187 horsepower. Right in the same ballpark as the CR-V and the CX-50's base engine. So why is it so much slower? We tested this Sportage from 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds. 9.6, that is awfully slow. And it's immediately noticeable. Not exactly what you want to hear about your new completely redesigned SUV.
I know, you must get pretty great fuel economy in that case, right? Not so much. The Sportage is EPA rated at 28 MPG combined for front wheel drive and 25 MPG combined for all wheel drive, like this one. On our route, it came back with 26.4 MPG. So it's far slower than a CX-50 and far thirstier than a CR-V. Not exactly a stellar showing in this department.
Here's a quick word on off-roading. Now, neither of these cars are what you would traditionally think of as off-roaders, but there is some extra capability here. So maybe think of them as soft-roaders plus. For the Kia Sportage, it comes with 8.3 inches of ground clearance in this all wheel drive model. And that's not too bad. Also, in the Sportage X-Pro model, all wheel drive is included and it comes with these surprisingly beefy BFGoodrich all terrain tires.
There's also a locking center differential to give you extra traction and capability in slippery surfaces. That's not bad. And as we move on to the Mazda CX-50, now the CX-50 is only available with all wheel drive, period. And it's got 8.6 inches of ground clearance, which is the most of all three cars here. There's even an off-road driving mode to optimize traction in the drive settings once you get off the pavement.
So if you notice that there's a little extra black plastic cladding on these cars, now you know why. They do have a little bit of off-road intention. At least more than your typical family SUV. As for the CR-V, it doesn't quite have the list of credentials that these two do. On the other hand, I've taken it camping. I've driven it through snow, ice, mud, water, all kinds of stuff and that thing's traction control is pretty impressive through most conditions. It's just that these two take it to a new level.
LAUREN MCCAY: When they said redesign, they really meant redesign, because this Sportage is a lot roomier. And actually, Kia has increased the length and wheelbase, which now makes this a smidge bigger than the CR-V. There's a little extra legroom in the back and some extra headroom up here in the front. The tech inside of here is also pretty sick.
Not many of its rivals have things like ventilated seats. That feels pretty good, or how about a heated steering wheel? Now, that's pretty nice. This would have came in clutch when I was driving through Ohio in all the winters. All right, and check this out. There's a blind spot camera right in the speedometer that pops on the second you flip on your turn signal. It's really easy to look at, right in front of you. Not complicated at all.
So yes, there are some really neat things in here, but to be honest, one thing that I'm not totally feeling is the storage space up here in the front. I check out this center console here. And I can stick my arm through. There's not-- it's pretty shallow. Not much space inside there. And then, yeah, they give you a little cubby here maybe for a little snack of almonds. But if I wanted to put my breakfast or my purse here, I wouldn't have the room. So I'm not really a fan of this storage space.
Kia also added this interesting cluster of controls located right here underneath the center touch screen. It works the climate, navigation, and audio-- a 3-in-one system-- and a very clever way to keep this dash looking sleek. Now, the one thing that I really care about is how I'm going to plug-in my phone and get my music going because that's what I need to really make my drive amazing.
All right. So I'm going to plug it in, let's see how hard or difficult this is going to be. OK.
Now we're talking. Not bad on the sound quality. Kind of gets me in the vibes. But here's the thing with the Sportage, you can either do a USB hookup or you can use your Bluetooth. USB hookup, very easy. Plug it in, hit Confirm, you're good. Now, with the Bluetooth, there are a couple of menus that you have to get through to set it up. But the good news is once you get through those, it's your car. So you're hooked up forever.
And Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard for, not just this vehicle, but the other two as well. So you're going to be good with your phone no matter what. Keeping it simple, sticking to the basics, that's what Mazda has done with this CX-50. And personally, I'm here for it. A lot of cars nowadays are going with that sleek, high-tech cockpit like what we just saw in the Sportage-- but nah, not Mazda.
They are putting the driving experience front and center, and leaving all that techie stuff behind, very similar to the CX-5. So this screen for the infotainment system is about 10 inches, which even in the most basic trim for this model, you're going to get a little over 8 inches for the screen. It's a touch screen, which I usually like, but it's far away. It's not like the Sportage where it's right here in front of you, so then you're kind of forced to use this click wheel, which is-- just-- I'm not a fan of. It's a little clunky and it's just not easy to use.
Now, of course, I'm looking for a concert in my car while I drive. I'm plugging up with my cable. The awkward thing about this is if you want to use a cord, you have to go through the center console, which is just odd that it's there and not in the dash. But let's get into this music. Let's see how it sounds.
All right. So yeah, there's sound, but it actually reminds me of-- if you look at a picture and you start to zoom in, it gets pixelated. That's what the audio quality feels like once it gets to a certain point and gets a little louder. So not totally my favorite, not a whole concert. But look, before I move on, I do have to say this interior is pretty impressive. So I'm 5'4" and usually headroom is not really an issue for me, but if you or someone riding with you is a little bit taller, it could be a little limiting. So it's just something to consider.
Last, but certainly not least, is the CR-V. First off, the car door openings are nice and wide. I took it for a spin over the weekend and my puppy, Sonny, who's only 5 months and getting comfortable getting in and out of cars, handled it like a champ. Now, sitting here I feel very comfortable. I'm able to move the seat and wheel to adjust to exactly how I like it. And since I'm short, that's always a plus.
OK, ladies, this was the kicker for me. Where to put my purse. This center console, boom, fits like a glove. Doesn't move around. And I know how much of a struggle that can be, which brings me to why we love the CR-V's in the first place. It's the space. You have plenty of space to put things. And also plenty of space to put people. Hey, guys!
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Hey!
LAUREN MCCAY: But seriously, its dimensions are generally larger than its rivals. The rear seats are among the biggest you'll find in a small SUV. And even though the Sportage grew, it's still not as roomy as this. The CR-V is just a fun, spacious functional car. The biggest downside is this control setup. It's not very intuitive and some of the onscreen buttons are just small and difficult to locate, especially while driving.
The touchscreen menu for navigation is also a bit clunky. Hopefully, they fix that. All right, Apple CarPlay time. Let's see how this works.
The music quality is stellar. Definitely concert level, right?
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Ah-huh, yeah. As Lauren mentioned, I know because I was back here eavesdropping, storage is one of our favorite aspects of the CR-V. It's huge back here. This is truly the CR-V's defining trait. There's nearly 40 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, and you can even lower down the floor by a rung if you need just a little bit extra.
Plus, just by pulling these handles on either side, I can easily fold down the rear seats. That essentially doubles your storage capacity. On top of all that, there's all that extra storage capacity in the front that Lauren already showed you. Now, when it comes to installing child seats, the CR-V is pretty easy to use. There are latches located between the rear seat cushions, which normally we don't like so much, but these are pretty easy to access.
One thing you should know, though, is that where some crossovers have three latch points in the back seats here, the CR-V only has two. The only minor shortfall in this category is the CR-V's towing capability. It has a maximum capacity of only 1,500 pounds. That's enough for a really small trailer, but other small SUVs can tow upwards of 3,500 pounds.
As for the Mazda, since we've got the turbocharged engine in this car, that means the CX-50 can tow up to 3,500 pounds. Now, for context, that's enough for things like ATVs, jet skis, and maybe even a small boat. If that doesn't sound like a whole lot, remember it's more than double what the CR-V can do. On the downside, storage capacity is just not one of the strong points for the CX-50.
It's pretty deep back here, but the ceiling is low, the floor is high, and it's not configurable. There's about 31 cubic feet of space back here, which remember, is down quite a bit from the CR-V. You do have easy-to-use handles back here to lower the second row and create more space. But you're just not going to get as much here as you will in some other small SUVs. Remember, storage isn't all that great in the front either. So cargo capacity is just not a reason to choose the CX-50, which is a definite negative when you're shopping for a family SUV, of all things.
And speaking of families, if you're putting child seats in the second row, there are easy-to-access isofix latch points. Just be careful with the covers. They will get lost. Finally, there are three top tether points, so you can position child seats basically wherever you want. So that's one positive for the family aspect of the CX-50, at least.
OK, you've just heard me rave about how much space is inside the CR-V, but Kia must have been listening because they really came after it with this new Sportage. There is even more space inside the Sportage behind the rear seats than there is in the CR-V. OK, only by a little bit, but still, that's a pretty big deal. It also has a nice, low lift over height, and the cargo area is plenty deep and wide.
Now, all you have to do is pull on these little levers on either side and you'll drop the rear seats. Plus, remember, there is pretty impressive space in the front. Storage seems to be a pretty big win for the Sportage. When it comes to installing kid seats, there are easy to find latches in the second row. Now, just like the CR-V, they're located between the cushions, but in the Sportage they stick out significantly further so they're much easier to access.
There are also three easy to access tether points in the back here, too. And finally, when it comes to towing, the Sportage falls right in the middle of our three car comparison here. Its maximum capacity is 2,500 pounds. Not really enough to write home about, but probably plenty for whatever you're going to use it for. Take the Sportage camping, why not?
LAUREN MCCAY: All right. So driving in the CR-V, it's clearly a fan favorite, and it's evident why with me driving in it now. It's smooth and the handling, the steering is very precise. And it's just really comfortable. I feel secure in it. I don't feel like I'm toss and turned any kind of way. It's just a good practical car. So when it comes to acceleration, it feels quick right away, but it's not a fast car. You're not going to be zooming around town.
In our 0 to 60 testing it finished middle of the pack. So it's not super fast. It's not super slow. It's just right in the middle. Again, getting at that practical feature that it does have. In our testing, we found that depending on the driver, you can get up to 35 MPG. Now, I drove it around for about four days around LA, and I only had to fill up gas once. To me, that's really impressive.
All right, if I had to be nitpicky and pick one thing that is a downside, I would say the fact that I wouldn't be able to do much off-roading with this, like with the other two. So Ryan mentioned that earlier. It's a little bit of a downside. But the reality is, none of them are.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Let's talk driving the Mazda CX-50. Now, the first thing you notice from behind the wheel is that powerful engine, which we already mentioned is the strongest of the three and you can feel it as soon as you step on the gas. That turbo kicks in and we're off in a hurry. We tested the CX-50 from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds, which is awfully quick for an affordable family SUV.
In fact, the CX-50 is just sporty in general. You can feel it through the responsive brake pedal and you can definitely feel it through the quick and agile steering, which reacts just about instantly. This is about as sporty as things get for this class of crossover SUV. Now, there is a downside to that. I don't know that sportiness should be the first thing you're looking for in a family SUV. And the reason for that is there are drawbacks.
You know, this really responsive steering also comes off kind of heavy and difficult to maneuver around at low speeds and parking lots, and situations like that. It creates a lot of work on your shoulders compared to some other competitors. On top of that, that really sporty engine is also the thirstiest of the three here when it comes to fuel economy. And this sporty suspension, which helps the CX-50 feel agile and nimble on the road, can also be pretty stiff and unforgiving if you're going over rough road surfaces.
Now, I don't know about you, but I don't always drive my family SUV like I'm in time attack or race mode. And any time I do get a little bit excited, if there's other people in the car with me, it doesn't take long for somebody to yell out, "take it Earnhardt." So just keep in mind that with the CX-50 you're going to make some sacrifices in the name of that sporty driving feel. Namely when it comes to road comfort and general ease of use.
Now, personally, that's a trade off I'm willing to make because it's just that fun to drive. But it's a question you should ask yourself, definitely.
LAUREN MCCAY: All right. So we're in the Kia Sportage and just right off the top here, unfortunately, the engine. You can feel that it lacks power just right off the top as you're driving. I literally feel like I have to push heavy footed on this pedal just to get enough acceleration to speed up. And that's what we're finding is really difficult, and sort of a downfall of the engine in general with the Sportage. It just is anemic in power.
So let me give you a scenario just to put it in real world context. When you're trying to pass someone on the freeway to change lanes, it's quite difficult. I'm finding that I'm ending up having to use the brake and just slow down and fall back instead of using the gas to accelerate because it's just too slow. Now, that's especially true here in LA, unless the person is, like, really nice. It happens, but rarely.
All that being said, the ride is relatively smooth if you're just going from A to B, you're going to stay around in the city, in the neighborhood. Maybe drop the kids off at school. Go to grocery stores. And there are some pluses inside. Love the interior. The tech is really cool. So it is going to be a decent ride. It's just when you want that power, and if you want that power, it just lacks in that area. So that's definitely something to consider. The overall ride, if you keep it simple, isn't bad.
So overall, the Sportage and the CX-50 have definite pros and cons. I think that's clear. But they're also holding their own against the CR-V, but is it enough, is the question.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: Yeah, here's the thing. There are just so many things to like about the CR-V and that makes it really hard to beat. I mean, you get all that space and great fuel economy at a pretty solid price, too. And on top of that, there's a fully redesigned model that's coming out any day now.
LAUREN MCCAY: That's fair.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: But it looks like we actually do have a winner.
LAUREN MCCAY: Yes, Ryan, indeed we do. The CX-50 came very close. It's really the luxury interior that it has, and the driving experience that put it very close, but the CR-V is still king. Because overall, it's just a good practical family car.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: For sure.
LAUREN MCCAY: And that's what we promised you we would bring you. So I guess this is the end of the video, huh?
RYAN ZUMALLEN: I guess so. I'm out of ice cream, what about you?
LAUREN MCCAY: I'm out, actually. I'm just scraping. Cheers, we deserved it.
RYAN ZUMALLEN: We do. Cheers, Lauren. Thanks for watching.