2019 Mazda CX-5 Review
2019 Mazda CX-5 Review
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
Used CX-5 for saleAppraise This Car
Mazda CX-5 model years
Mazda CX-5 types
See Edmunds pricing data
Has Your Car's Value Changed?
Used car values are constantly changing. Edmunds lets you track your vehicle's value over time so you can decide when to sell or trade in.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Travis Langness has worked in the automotive industry since 2011. He has written thousands of car-related articles and tested and reviewed hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career.
- Keen handling and steering make the CX-5 enjoyable to drive
- Attractive and upscale cabin for a premium ownership experience
- New optional turbocharged engine provides plenty of power
- Stays quiet at highway speeds
- Base engine's lackluster acceleration
- Ride is a little firm for the class
- Less rear legroom and cargo room than most competitors
- More powerful engine for Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims
- Newly available 2.2-liter diesel engine on Signature trim
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration added
- Newly available ventilated front seats and surround-view parking camera
- Part of the second CX-5 generation introduced for 2017
Sharp style and sporting performance remain hallmarks of the 2019 Mazda CX-5, a small crossover SUV designed for those who enjoy a spirited drive. Excellent handling and a high-quality interior also help make it one of our top picks for a small SUV.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2019 Mazda CX-5 Sport 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$141/mo for CX-5 Sport
Avg. Midsize SUV
For 2019, the CX-5 is available in two new trim levels, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature. Both offer a broader list of premium features and conveniences this year and come standard with a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine, which is lifted from the three-row CX-9, generates up to 250 horsepower and a stout 310 pound-feet of torque.
This turbocharged 2.5-liter engine goes a long way toward addressing what has been one of our key complaints about the CX-5 relative to its competitors: lack of power from the standard four-cylinder engine. And late in the model year, Mazda is bringing out another optional engine: a 2.2-liter diesel for the CX-5 Signature, which promises increased towing capacity and fuel economy. These engines come at a price, however, since they are limited to the top-of-the-line trim levels.
No matter which CX-5 trim level you pick, you'll be stuck with less cabin and cargo room than you'd have in several rivals. Overall, however, the CX-5 is a standout. It provides an excellent balance of sportiness, comfort and practicality, and its upscale interior conveys a sense of richness that you don't find in rivals. It's a smart choice.
What's it like to live with?
Want to know even more about the Mazda CX-5? Learn about day-to-day ownership from our editorial experts' long-term test of a 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring. How much did they like the CX-5's quiet and upscale interior? Was the cargo room sufficient for everyday use? And was this CX-5 reliable? Learn this and more from the test. Note that the 2019 CX-5 differs slightly from the 2018 model we tested — it did not have an optional turbocharged engine and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration — but our coverage is otherwise applicable.
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.1 / 10
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring (2.5L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted in 2017, the current Mazda CX-5 has received some revisions, including this year's new smartphone integration. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Mazda CX-5, however.
|Overall||8.1 / 10|
Mazda's penchant for handling prowess is alive and well. If your commute involves many twists or turns, you might not consider any other crossover. Just don't expect to get anywhere fast; the engine's thrust is ultimately meek when you really push it. Otherwise, it's an easy vehicle to live with.
The 2.5-liter engine provides underwhelming acceleration from a stop or while moving. Overtaking on the highway requires some planning. The 0-60 mph sprint on our test track took 8.7 seconds, which is decently quick. In the real world, however, it just doesn't seem as fast.
It's easy to come to a smooth stop with the moderate pedal firmness and predictable brake effort. It took 121 feet to stop from 60 mph in our testing, which is an average stopping distance in this class.
The steering is weighted a bit heavier than in most crossovers, reflecting the sporting intentions. It's never difficult to turn, however, and parking lot maneuvers are executed with ease. A slight buildup of effort at higher speeds helps you know exactly where the wheels are pointed.
Here is where this SUV excels. Since it's sharp and communicative, you can take corners at speeds higher than rivals without squealing tires or feeling as if you're out of control. The car is unfazed by quick left-to-right transitions. It is the best-handling small crossover.
The automatic transmission doesn't immediately jump into the highest gear possible under moderate acceleration, which helps with everyday drivability. It's reluctant to downshift, waiting until you really give it the beans. In Sport mode, the transmission hangs onto gears until you totally back off the gas.
Most people will find the comfortable cabin to be quite pleasant. Noise levels are low, and the climate control system excels. A few minor annoyances — a ride that's firm and a rear bench with little thigh support — keep it from being the ultimate passenger-friendly vehicle.
The front seats are shaped well and envelop the body comfortably, though the side bolsters squish to the side during hard cornering. The rear bench is flat on the bottom, which might make long-distance travel uncomfortable for rear passengers. However, the rear seatback reclines for added comfort.
The suspension setup that makes the CX-5 a world-class handler also gives it a ride quality that is firmer than what you'll find in other compact crossovers. But midcorner bumps barely faze the chassis, and it never feels floaty. Road imperfections are dealt with immediately.
Noise & vibration8.0
Noise isn't an omnipresent issue; wind and tire noise is really only evident at highway speeds. Even then, you won't have to raise your voice to talk to passengers. Engine noise is apparent from moderate to heavy acceleration. Sport mode hangs onto gears, prolonging the raucous note.
The automatic climate control system works well to keep temperatures constant, aided by the Touring's rear air vents. Heated front seats are toasty in the highest setting, and the heated steering wheel warms quickly. Controls for the rear-seat heaters are awkwardly located in the armrest.
The cabin is very much driver-oriented, with excellent visibility and a superb driving position. The short center console and wide gap between the brake and dead pedals are a boon for tall drivers. It's slightly less friendly to backseat passengers since there's less room than in some rivals.
Ease of use8.5
All controls are within the driver's reach. The center display, which is controlled by an easy-to-use knob near the shifter, loses touchscreen ability while the car is moving and doesn't wash out in sunlight. The driver armrests aren't tall enough to rest your elbow and still grip the steering wheel.
Getting in/getting out7.5
Step-in height is a couple inches taller than that of some vehicles in this segment, but most people will find it easy to enter the CX-5. The tall doors mean you don't have to duck. Exiting is also simple, but passengers sitting behind tall front occupants might have to scrunch their legs to leave.
The driver's seat offers a lot of vertical adjustment, from low-slung (for a crossover) to bury-your-head-in-the-roof. The front of the seat bottom raises fairly high, offering plenty of support on long-distance drives. The steering wheel also presents a nice range of tilt-and-telescoping adjustment.
The cabin feels spacious up front, and there's enough headroom for tall folks all around even with the sunroof. Rear passengers might feel cramped by the sculpted outboard seats, which also make it difficult for an adult to sit in the middle. Rear legroom is a little tight.
An elevated driving position, tall windows and narrow pillars make this an easy car to see out of. The exception is in the three-quarters view. The window is a bit smaller than those of competitors but presents a decent view to limit blind spots. A standard backup camera provides a high-definition rear view.
There's not a single cheap-feeling trim piece in the CX-5. All materials, from the leather upholstery to rarely used switchgear, feel expensive. The only disappointments are the malleable side bolsters that rub against the center console in turns. Everything else is exceptional.
The cargo area is a little small for the class, but you still get the capacity expected from a crossover. The rear seats fold nearly flat at a pull of the remote release latches. The cargo cover is cleverly attached to the hatch, so you don't have to bend over and shove items in. The rear seats are split 40/20/40.
Storage spaces abound, with every door sporting spacious pockets with water bottle cutouts. The center bin is deep but not especially wide, though there's a secondary bin in front of the shifter for extra storage. There's a shallow tray inside the rear armrest complete with USB ports.
The cargo area is a bit smaller than those of competitors, but we were able to fit two large suitcases without impeding rear visibility. The loading height is a little taller than many in this class, and the door opening height is a little shorter. We dig the nifty retracting door-mounted cargo cover.
Child safety seat accommodation7.5
Four slots on the outboard seats allow access to the LATCH anchors. It's easy to push past the slots, but the anchors are inset a bit. The tethers on the seatback are easy to reach, even with the cargo cover in place; push down on the plastic tab that keeps stuff concealed to access the tether.
The standard CX-5 can tow up to 2,000 pounds, which is above average for the segment. The Signature trim-exclusive diesel engine can tow as much as 3,500 pounds, but that's a pricey upgrade. Competitors such as the Ford Escape and the Hyundai Santa Fe can also tow up to 3,500 pounds with their upgraded engines.
The CX-5 is a heavy hitter on the tech front, with USB ports sprinkled throughout the cabin, multiple advanced safety systems, and a standard 7-inch touchscreen with an intuitive user interface. The driver aids are fairly sensitive, particularly the blind-spot monitor.
Audio & navigation8.5
The infotainment system is easy to use overall, though some virtual button iconography is hard to decipher. The nav system predicts inputs so users don't have to enter the entire address. The destination entry is disabled while moving, but you can select "Home" or browse through recent destinations.
There are two USB ports in the front and two in the back on the Grand Touring trim, both underneath that row's central armrest. The plugs in front seem to pull less power than in rivals; it takes quite a while to recharge phones. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are new additions for 2019.
All of the latest advanced safety features are available. The lane departure warning system emits a unique low-pitched buzzing sound that really gets your attention. The blind-spot monitor is overly sensitive, even triggering while you're passing vehicles several car lengths behind.
The voice control system seems to be totally based around natural speech recognition, with no prompts whatsoever. It's good at destination entry, calling people and tuning to terrestrial radio stations. We couldn't get it to tune to a satellite radio station, however.
Which CX-5 does Edmunds recommend?
We say make the stretch to get the Grand Touring Reserve. Yes, it's pricey, but you get a great selection of premium features, none more premium than the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gives the CX-5 the wallop of power it desperately needs. If that trim is out of your reach, the Touring trim's practical combination of value, features and safety equipment should satisfy.
2019 Mazda CX-5 models
The 2019 Mazda CX-5 crossover is offered in five trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature.
Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (187 hp, 186 lb-ft of torque) and equipped with front-wheel drive. Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trims come with a more powerful turbocharged version of the same engine (227 hp — 250 hp on 91 octane gas — and 310 lb-ft of torque) and come with standard all-wheel drive. For the Signature trim only, a 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine is available (168 hp and 290 lb-ft). All three engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment for the Sport starts with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, push-button ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen, manually adjustable front seats, 40/20/40-split reclining rear seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a four-speaker sound system and two USB ports. Low-speed forward collision warning and mitigation and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are also included.
Adding the optional Sport i-Activsense package brings automatic headlights, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, upgraded forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian detection, and automatic windshield wipers.
The i-Activsense safety features come standard on the Touring trim. You also get automatic wipers, keyless entry, a power-adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate vents, simulated-leather upholstery, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, two additional speakers and two more USB ports.
The optional Touring Preferred package adds items such as a sunroof, a power liftgate, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose sound system.
The Grand Touring gets you all of the above, along with 19-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, heated side mirrors, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, driver-seat memory functions, an upgraded driver information display, a navigation system, and satellite radio. The optional GT Premium package adds a head-up display, power-folding mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Moving up to the Grand Touring Reserve adds the Grand Touring's optional features as standard plus the more powerful engine and all-wheel drive. Finally, the top Signature adds ambient cabin lighting, premium leather upholstery, wood trim accents, a surround-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
Jump to:Related 2019 CX-5 articles
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Finally decided - glad I did
2019 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
I spent too long determining what car to buy. At first, I just made a list of what I wanted : close to 30mpg (avg), AWD, good cargo space for work and fun with options available for more (trailer hitch & roof rack / roof cargo allows for more), 'modern' electronics (HUD, lane departure, USB most things, phone integration), and more, but I will try to keep this short. There is a good … number of vehicles that provide these things, or close to my list. Came down to 2 cars, 2019 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring, or Subaru Outback Limited. With options as close as I could get them, Mazda had 1mpg less gas mileage but slightly more HP, and about 3k cheaper. Not super fast, but fast enough (I'm a relatively fast driver, but not smokey and the bandit fast). Handles corners at higher speeds well ! there is a corner I take daily going to work, and I smile every time, as long as I can take it at 'my' speed. Road noise is quiet (to me). Love the "Fuel Economy Monitor" screen. Seats are comfortable. It seems the car is well thought out with position of controls and designed with the driver in mind. To be fair, I will say the 4 things I do not like that much. 1 - if you are driving at 30 mph or so, and let off the gas, the transmission will slow you down, instead of the car coasting . You can minimize this problem by manually downshifting. 2 - The FOB - the buttons protrude a little, and I have accidentally hit the buttons (with FOB in my pocket. 3 - the volume knob is the only fit/finish complaint I have - its loose - no other way to say it. 4 - I wish the 'infotainment' screen would come up faster. To summarize, I think the importance of my gripes are minimal (especially the volume knob thing & delay of entertainment or maps) - especially taking into account every thing else the car has and does well. I'm happy with my purchase and look forward to the next 10 years of driving. If I can find this review, maybe I will update it at year 5.
5 out of 5 stars
The best driving car I have ever owned
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I had a CX-3 since 2016 (which was my first Mazda after many years as a Honda/Acura owner) and loved it plenty. Impressed with the overall build quality and the oft-mentioned Mazda "zoom-zoom". However my needs dictated a somewhat larger-sized vehicle was required; not too much bigger, but larger than a sub-compact SUV. I initially looked at the CR-V since I did own a 2002 CR-V for … many years but that was then and now the ongoing issues with the 1.5 liter turbo quickly eliminated the Honda. Also, the frequent build-quality problems I encountered over 7 years of owning an Acura MDX convinced me that Honda quality has drastically slipped in recent years. The refreshed 2019 RAV4 is a nice vehicle certainly, but in non-hybrid trim, it's 203 hp 2.5 feels sluggish, kind of like it misplaced 50 of those ponies somewhere along the line. Also, the limited trim I looked at was over 38k (i.e. a few dollars past the Mazda CX-5 Signature price tag) and its' interior, though very plush, just did not measure up to the CX-5 Signature's interior. Also, I got tired of waiting for the Hybrid to make its' appearance (though it just came out - finally - it is in very very short supply and Toyota dealers are not taking a single dollar off it's sticker). So, I test drove a CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve. The fantastic handling coupled with the turbo power convinced me this was the one. BUT, and this is capitalized for a reason, the things I had in my CX-3 such as parking sensors and ambient LED interior lighting were things I wanted and to add them brought me almost halfway toward the price difference to a Signature trim. So, I sat inside a Signature in the showroom and I knew this would be my new vehicle. The interior is better - yes better - than the interior of my Acura MDX (which was top-of-the-line). The car (in sonic silver metallic) brings a smile to my face every time I enter it. I have never looked forward to driving so much as I do now. Yesterday, I entered an interstate on-ramp and accelerated briskly around a sharp curve which I could never attempt in my wife's RAV4. Very impressive. I love everything about this car. The seats are very comfortable (though I understand some have found them opposite). The infotainment loads just as fast as the one in my CX-3 did, so I find it acceptable. With just under a thousand miles so far, I am seeing an overall MPG of 25, which I think is very reasonable. Looking forward to many years and miles of enjoyable driving. Update: one year and 9k miles later I am very happy with my CX-5 and would definitely buy it again, without question. Superior quality and outstanding driving characteristics that are not matched by anything in its’ price class. I recommend this for anyone looking for a compact crossover.
5 out of 5 stars
Luxury feel with less than luxury price
2019 Mazda CX-5 Signature 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I love this car. I bought the 2019 signature edition in Machine Gray. I looked at some of the competing compact luxury SUVs and I really couldn't find much that those had that this car doesn't have. On top of that, I liked the feel and size of the CX-5 more. Thus, I couldn't justify paying $8-10 more just for a luxury brand. I love the way the car handles and accelerates, as well as the … luxury features--heads up driving display, heated/vented front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, etc. Only negative is that I feel that the infotainment system is a bit sluggish when loading at the start and when toggling back and forth. Otherwise, I couldn't be happier!
4 out of 5 stars
Brings the fun back into driving a SUV
2019 Mazda CX-5 Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
I bought a new 2019 CX-5 with the touring preferred package. I have had the car for almost three months now, so I think I am ready to write my review. I found the car to be quite peppy when you need the acceleration. The shift points seem to be set up about 4,000 rpm which is higher than most competitors. The car shifts smoothly with no jerking or hesitation. The front bucket seats … are European influenced from Audi and they practically wrap around your body. Very comfortable once you get used to them. The car has a stiff suspension so it corners wonderfully. The steering is very responsive, no mushy feeling. The downside to that is the ride can be a little bumpy. If a smooth ride is important, you might want to look at the CR-V. The Bose speaker system is wonderful. The sound is evenly balanced, seems to just fill the car with music. The car comes with Android Auto. I would advise you to try your phone with the car before you buy. My phone, which admittedly is four years old, would not sync up with the car. The dealer told me it was my phone but I had already tried it on the Honda CR-V and it worked fine. So I think the Mazda software may be different and not compatible with all phones. The dealer did step up and gave me a free navigation package to make up for it. The Infotainment screen mounts on the top of the dashboard and is touch sensitive. However, the car comes with a wheel on the center console which can be used to control everything. I found this to be easier to use. There also is a volume knob on the console, a big plus. This is a big advantage over Honda which does not have this. There are also buttons which can get you from music to navigation to favorites with one touch. The wipers can be set to automatic and they will then speed up or slow down depending on the amount of rain. The side collision warning lights up on the side view mirrors and is easy to see. Verbal alerts sound if you start to change lanes. The rear backup camera is ok, but I find that if it is raining, the rain seems to accumulate on the camera lens and blurs the picture. Very annoying. The backup warning is excellent. It warns if something is about to cross behind you and also senses pedestrians. A visual warning will display on your dashboard instruments to show you where the danger is. The car doesn't have great traction in heavy rain but I suspect that is the fault of the Yokohama tires which came with the car. I am going to switch over to Michelins when these wear out. The LED headlights are superb. I didn't realize how little of the road I was actually seeing in my old car. The headlights illuminate the entire road, both sides! The one thing Mazda really messed up on with this car is the storage pockets on the doors. They are stylish but pretty useless as they are too shallow to hold anything as large as a piece of notebook paper. A minor issue, but something Mazda should have fixed. The car came with the Homelink equipment to open your garage door. It was a hassle to get this to work with my garage door opener but I haven't had any issues with it since then. The button to open your garage door is mounted on the rear view mirror. Unfortunately the button does not illuminate at night so you have to feel your way along the edge of the mirror until you get to the button. The exterior of the car is where I think Mazda hit a home run. The front hood is raked forward over the front grill to give it an aggressive look, unlike the bland CR-V which is rounded back. The rear of the car bulges out a little and holds the taillights. The liftgate is powered one touch open if you get the preferred package. The color selection is a little different. Silver is standard, but if you want white it will cost you $200 extra. I thought this was a ripoff but I bought it anyway. Let me just say I now stand corrected. It is a pearl white with a little metallic in it. When I park it next to a white car from a different company it makes the other car look dingy. Well worth the money! If you really want to splurge, get the metallic red for an additional $800. Overall, I am very happy with the car. We will see how it holds up over the years, but I bought the extended warranty so I'm not too worried.
2019 Mazda CX-5 video
[MUSIC PLAYING] MARK TAKAHASHI: Outside of pickup trucks, small crossover SUVs are the most popular class of vehicles. Considering how versatile, convenient, and easy to drive they are, it's really no surprise. Last year, we pitted our favorites-- the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5-- against the sales leading Toyota RAV4. But that really wasn't such a fair fight, considering the RAV4 was just about to be redesigned. This year, the RAV4 is the new kid on the block, while the Mazda and Honda have gotten some key updates. That means this battle should be closer than ever before. WILL KAUFMAN: As always, you can get more information and great deals on these three vehicles and all of their competitors at Edmunds.com. Also, we've got more comparison videos coming up, so make sure to subscribe. But back to these three. ELANA SCHERR: We've got the Toyota, the Mazda, and the Honda. All have an MSRP between $35,000 and $38,000. All three seat five, offer all wheel drive, and come with a full suite of active driver safety aides. But which one does it best? Let's meet our fighters. [MUSIC PLAYING] This is the Honda CR-V in Touring trim. It's friendly and predictable, but is it stellar or a snoozer? Oh, wait, I forgot to tell you what's new on the Honda. It now comes with a volume knob. MARK TAKAHASHI: The last time we ran this test, the Mazda CX-5 got big points for performance and refinement. This time around, it gets a new turbo charged engine, as well as a top Signature trim. Those promise more power and luxury than ever before. WILL KAUFMAN: Well, brace yourselves, because this is the 2019 Toyota RAV4 Limited all wheel drive. For 2019, Toyota completely redesigned the RAV4 from the ground up. It's more powerful, has more technology, and more off road capability. But more than that, it's got way more attitude, both inside and out. Still, the old RAV4 lost the comparison test last time around. Does this redesign give the RAV4 the edge it needs to win? Let's find out. ELANA SCHERR: When it comes to bragging rights, the Mazda CX-5 is the most powerful in the bunch with 250 horsepower. The Toyota RAV4 is next with 203 horses, and the CR-V is third with only 190. But what's in a number? When we tested the cars' 0 to 60 times at the Edmunds track, the CX-5 was quickest. That's no surprise. But the RAV4 took a whopping 8.9 seconds to hit 60, while the CR-V did it in only 7.9. Power isn't everything. WILL KAUFMAN: Obviously, the numbers don't tell the whole story. To find out how these cars stack up, we're going to have to drive them in their natural habitats-- the suburbs. Let's hit the road. [MUSIC PLAYING] MARK TAKAHASHI: Will, Elana, this is the Mazda CX-5, which I consider the prettiest-- the best driving of the bunch for a number of reasons. It's got more power and I think the suspension is just tuned a little more sporty. ELANA SCHERR: Do you think that the sportiness and the power make you feel more like a dad or more like you're on a road trip with your super attractive and fun friends? MARK TAKAHASHI: I don't know how to answer that, but I'll take door number two. Yeah, it doesn't feel like I'm sacrificing driving engagement for the convenience of driving an SUV. WILL KAUFMAN: How do you feel about that upgraded engine, though? Do you think that's worth the extra money? It's a pretty big price bump. MARK TAKAHASHI: I don't see a big enough difference between that and the base engine. The base engine already has plenty of punch, I think. WILL KAUFMAN: It feels like they've aimed for luxury a little more than sport, like a premium feel. The engine just doesn't have a very sporty response, even though it's strong. ELANA SCHERR: The Mazda is fast, but it really wants you to know that it's working hard for it. Like it's like, I am going to be very loud about this. MARK TAKAHASHI: It doesn't sound terrible, though. It almost has that weird Subaru flutter. Here we go. [ENGINE REVVING] ELANA SCHERR: Oh. MARK TAKAHASHI: Right? It doesn't sound like you're hurting the engine. It sounds decent. It's almost to the point where it encourages you to drive just a little bit harder. ELANA SCHERR: But it does sort of sound like it's going, like, woo! [LAUGHTER] Get some! [LAUGHTER] MARK TAKAHASHI: This is a nice looking interior. You are paying more for it in this car. Mazda is making this push to be more of an entry level luxury brand, and you know what? The materials quality, I think, is better than the other two. I like the design. It's less cluttered. You know, are you going to buy this against an Audi? Probably not. So I have two USBs under my elbow. Hey, Elana, how many USBs do you have back there? ELANA SCHERR: I don't see any. [LAUGHTER] MARK TAKAHASHI: Trick. It's behind you. It's in that center armrest. You have to flip it down, and that's also where the seat heater controls are, which seems like a really bad place for both. ELANA SCHERR: You aren't lying. MARK TAKAHASHI: All right. Good. How's comfort wise back there? ELANA SCHERR: If we were going a long distance, I would prefer to be on one of the side seats because there's a big hump in the floor here and it makes it sort of awkward. There's nobody else in here, so it's fine right now, but I wouldn't want to be in here with other people or with car seats. How's the comfort up there? MARK TAKAHASHI: Will, you're pretty particular about seat comfort. Let's hear it. WILL KAUFMAN: I am. They're pretty supportive, they're a little narrower than they need to be-- a little more sport oriented. But the support is good and the cushioning is pretty good. I mean, I like sitting in the Mazda. It's one I could sit in every day. It really does feel like more of a four passenger vehicle, though, with the placement of the seat heaters and the USB ports and sort of the narrowness of that back seat. It just doesn't feel like it's meant to carry five people. MARK TAKAHASHI: Which might be a reason why I like it. I like smaller cars. I like cars that feel like it's wrapping around. You're almost wearing them, and this certainly has that feel. ELANA SCHERR: Of the three cars in this test, this is the one I would take if I was going on a road trip with my friends. It just felt like the most adult fun car. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, this is also the car with the best stereo in the group, which means that when I get sick of listening to you guys talk, I can just drown you out. [MUSIC PLAYING] Yeah. ELANA SCHERR: We're in the Honda CR-V, and Mark, before we started this test, you told me that I was going to be surprised by the Honda. MARK TAKAHASHI: Yes. ELANA SCHERR: And you were right. Everything about it is better than I expected it to be. The performance, the comfort, even the styling outside and inside is just not as soul sucking as I associate with small SUVs. MARK TAKAHASHI: And we have this conversation mirror so you can keep tabs on the rugrats in the back. WILL KAUFMAN: That's good. I need supervision. ELANA SCHERR: Stop that. The biggest surprise for me, though, was-- [ENGINE REVVING] It actually moves out. I mean, I'm not going to go crazy. I'm not going to say it's fast, but it is considerably faster than I was expecting it to be. WILL KAUFMAN: But it's only a second slower to 60 than the much more powerful CX-5. MARK TAKAHASHI: And it has a CVT, which generally have a tendency to suck the life out of any car. It's impressive how they tuned it, how they engineered it. It just works. ELANA SCHERR: I think that if you put somebody in this car and you had them guess the power train, they would never say 1.5 liter turbo 4 with a CVT. MARK TAKAHASHI: But handling wise, I mean, not that it's a priority for a lot of people-- how does it feel behind the wheel? ELANA SCHERR: It's certainly not scary. I mean, you're not going to worry about driving on a twisty road like, oh man, I've got to slow down to like 30 miles an hour and, you know, everyone behind me is going to be mad. MARK TAKAHASHI: As far as ride quality, though, I really like it. It's smooth. It's got the right amount of compliance to soak up all the bumps. This is just a much nicer ride quality. ELANA SCHERR: Oh yeah. I mean, comfort is probably the first word I would think of to describe this. The seats are big and plush. They're supportive enough. I really think SUV manufacturers tend to err on the side of making the seats, like, really stiff like, oh man, everybody wants to be in a sports car. And it's like, nope, nope. I want to feel like I'm in a recliner. I want the car to be quiet and I want everything to be soft and gentle. MARK TAKAHASHI: Speaking of quiet, floor it. [ENGINE REVVING] WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, it doesn't sound bad. MARK TAKAHASHI: It doesn't. WILL KAUFMAN: It's not as nice an engine note as the CX-5, but it doesn't sound like you're hurting the car. ELANA SCHERR: I also don't think it's very loud. I mean, that was floored, and-- MARK TAKAHASHI: Yeah. ELANA SCHERR: If I had music on, I don't even think you'd hear it. Hey Will, how's the backseat? WILL KAUFMAN: The backseat in here is-- I mean, there's a lot of space back here. I actually think the side seats are really comfortable. The center seat is wide enough. I actually think you could fit three people across here, especially if you're dealing with kids. This is actually a five person SUV for a family. ELANA SCHERR: Among the many things that are easy in the Honda, visibility is one. There is plenty of room to see around the front pillars, the rear window is big, and you could see out even if there were three people in the backseat. Talking about surprises in the CR-V, I expected it to cost more than it does. MARK TAKAHASHI: I did, too. This is the top trim, and it comes in just a few hundred dollars under the RAV4, which means both of them are a couple thousand dollars less than the Mazda. It's impressive. You get a lot for that money. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, and I mean, it's really practical. There's a lot of smart solutions and thoughtful design. It's a car that does everything you need it to. It really helps you get everything that you need to do done, but it actually goes a little bit above and beyond that mission. It's a little nicer than just practical. ELANA SCHERR: Yeah, it solves all of your problems and it's a little bit fun. WILL KAUFMAN: Welcome to the RAV4. This is completely redesigned for 2019, so it's the newest vehicle in the bunch. It's also, in some ways, the oldest. The RAV4 was really the vehicle that started the small SUV craze. It's clearly changed a lot since then. For starters, it is much bigger in here. ELANA SCHERR: It's huge in here, actually. I mean, I know you meant that the whole car was bigger, but is it possible for a front seat to be too big? Like, I feel like I'm bouncing around. MARK TAKAHASHI: I actually am totally fine back here. I've got a ton of room underneath the seats. My knees aren't banging into anything, and Elana's seat is actually moved further back than what she normally needs. I'm totally fine back here, but that said, I didn't go on the RAV48 Tour, so I'm probably not the best person to talk about long distance comfort. WILL KAUFMAN: Yes. Elana and I each took a turn driving a RAV48 across all 48 contiguous states in just seven days, which meant we spent a lot of uninterrupted time sitting in these seats. ELANA SCHERR: A lot of the things that came up are still things that are coming up in this review. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah. I mean obviously, the wheezy engine, you know, and I actually had issues with seat comfort in this car on a long drive. I found the front passenger seat just a little uncomfortable. These head rests are sort of aggressive. From the three cars we have here today, this has got to be my least favorite to sit in for a long time. ELANA SCHERR: One of the things that going on a long road trip in winter meant for testing this car is that we got to see what it was like in snow, in ice. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah. I mean, it handled all of that stuff fine. You know, the vehicle sort of is the only one of this group that makes any even nod towards being off road capable. Even in this street oriented, feature filled version, you get a terrain select knob. You have a button specifically for a snow mode in the car, and it handles those things perfectly fine. MARK TAKAHASHI: But we're talking really light off roading. ELANA SCHERR: Do you feel like the big weakness is ground clearance or do you feel like the big weakness is the fact that it can barely make it up a paved hill? [LAUGHTER] WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, the fact that you get all that torque way up high in the rev range and there's no low range gearbox in here means this is not at all a serious off roader. Let's see what happens when you actually stand on this car. [ENGINE REVVING] Oh, and you can-- oh, you can hear and feel the shifts are just sort of slow and a little slushy. It's not the best transmission. ELANA SCHERR: I feel bad. I feel bad for this car. I think it's embarrassed. WILL KAUFMAN: There is a solution to the problem of this engine, fortunately. For about $800 over a regular all wheel drive model, you can get the RAV4 Hybrid, which makes a bunch more torque, and the electric motors actually fill in some of that low end torque that you miss. And you get 40 miles to the gallon. It is an amazing deal, and I think if you were going to buy one of these, that's the one that you get. Of course, most people won't. One nice thing about the RAV4-- it actually has the best visibility of all three. The pillars are relatively narrow and they're placed so that they don't get in the way of your view. It has nice, big mirrors. It's got a big view out the back. It even has, in this trim, a camera mirror, just in case you've packed the back up with so much stuff that the regular mirror won't work. ELANA SCHERR: I definitely think the RAV4 is one of those vehicles where it was first to the market, it has a great reputation, people still believe in that great reputation, and when you actually get in the new one-- got laurels. They're being rested on. [MUSIC PLAYING] MARK TAKAHASHI: The Mazda CX-5 is gorgeous on the outside, but it's also really nice on the inside, too. It's my choice, as far as refinement and luxury go. If you look at the design, it's simple, but elegant. It also gets my vote for the best infotainment system, and I use those quite a bit. Sure, Apple CarPlay evens the playing field some, but this is the only one with one of these knobs here that we've become accustomed to from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. But it's also a touchscreen, and that's great because Apple CarPlay-- it lends itself to being a touchscreen. Technology is also well represented because it has a head up display. That makes it unique among this group. It allows you to keep your eyes on the road, but still see all the vital information you need, including navigation, turn by turn prompts, speed limit signs. It all puts it right there, right in front of your view. Materials quality is excellent throughout. It fights well above its weight class, when it comes to the interior. Everything that you touch is nice, soft touch material, and it's well grained and it has excellent stitching throughout. With Mazda eyeing the entry level luxury market, this is a really promising start. When it comes to interior storage, however, it's not at the top of its game. I actually think the RAV4 and CR-V beat it. But I do have more than enough space for my stuff. If I had a car full of people, that might be a little challenging. There isn't a wireless charging pad, unfortunately. You have two USB ports under here, two moderately sized cup holders, and the bins in the doors-- you can put a decent size water bottle in there, but not much else. When it comes to visibility, the CX-5 is a little bit challenged. This roof pillar here in front is pretty thick. That means in a really sharp left turn, you kind of have to bob your head back and forth to see past it. Another bright spot in technology is the driver assistance features that the CX-5 has. It doesn't have more than the others, but I contend that it's better tuned. I didn't get any false alarms for frontal collision or for lane keep assist. And the other assistants, like the adaptive cruise control, is full range, all the way down to a stop. Even better, it reacts more like I drive. It just drives nice and smooth, in a logical manner that the RAV4 seems to be challenged by even more. WILL KAUFMAN: Toyota definitely gave the interior of the RAV4 an upgrade, in terms of design, personality, and material quality. Everywhere you look, the design is solid. There's some contrasting colors and textures. Most of what you touch is soft touch, padded materials. There are definitely still hard plastics around to bump into, but it's not that objectionable in this class. It's also nice they've added some rubberized knobs, these chunky climate control knobs, and the chunky grab handles on the door. Interior storage space is interesting. It's not as good as the CR-V. It's a little better than the CX-5. You get a big tray for your cell phone on higher trim levels. It's a wireless charging pad, which some people really like. The center console box is relatively small, but to make up for that, you have these nice little shelves that are placed around the cabin that neither of the other vehicles have. They're big enough for a cell phone. They're pretty useful. Something else I'd point out that I like in this vehicle, versus the other two, is the really big sunroof. There's a lot of light that comes in through that. This is a top trim vehicle, so you'd expect all the goodies on this, and it has stuff like dual zone climate control with a separate cutoff for the back seat. You have heated seats, and of course, the technology features. One thing you don't get is a heated steering wheel. You also don't get ventilated seats, which you can get on that CX-5. Even on the base trim, you get a pretty good set of active safety features. This car has the whole package. It has adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Those features work OK if you're at speed, but once you get into stop and go traffic, it just doesn't know how to behave. It wants to leave a lot of room between the RAV4 and the vehicle in front. Overall, it doesn't behave the way that you'd want when you're in stop and go traffic. One thing this vehicle offers that the other two don't is lane centering. Now, what that does is it tries to keep you centered in the lane, rather than sort of ping ponging back and forth between the lane markers like with regular lane keep assist. It's a system that works well at speed, but when I'm driving around town or on my commute, I just want it turned off because it is always beeping at you. It loses track of the right lane. It beeps at you. It drops out of lane centering to regular lane keep. It beeps at you. It goes back. It beeps at you. Loses track of the left lane. It beeps at you. You drift a little too far. It beeps at you. Every once in a while, it gives you a false positive and beeps at you. It just is always making noise. It's one of those things that's kind of nice to have on a long freeway cruise, but when I'm driving around the city or when I'm on my commute, I just want it turned off. Toyota gave this a pretty big infotainment screen. You get a volume knob and a tuning knob. Unlike the CR-V, you get hard buttons, so it's easy to navigate between the different menus that you want to use. Unfortunately, it's just not the easiest system overall. It doesn't look fantastic, the graphics look a little low resolution and dated, and some of the functions are a little harder to access than I'd like. It took me a little while to figure out how to pair Bluetooth on my phone. And sadly, the RAV4 only offers Apple CarPlay, and not Android Auto, which means about 50% of smartphone users are out in the cold. You can download the Entune connected app. That gives you a little bit more functionality, but it's not the easiest thing to use. I would rather just use Bluetooth, and then, I guess, rely on the kind of lame nav in this car. They came to this generation after the CR-V and CX-5, so they had an opportunity to leapfrog them. And instead, what they've done is make something that's fine. It gets the job done. It does the things you need to do. There are one or two nice things. It's a little bit more rugged and off roady. You can get the hybrid version. Beyond that, what you have here is a vehicle that just doesn't seem to offer as much as its competitors. [MUSIC PLAYING] ELANA SCHERR: The CR-V's biggest strength in its interior is the use of space. There's so much of it. The console is really low, so it doesn't get in your upper body area. Lots of room for your elbows. Lots of room for your passenger. The console doesn't come out too far, so it doesn't hit your knees. Just in general, the driving position is comfortable and it gives you a lot of room all around you. The materials are a mix of soft coverings and hard plastics, which is pretty much to be expected in a car at this price range. Everywhere you're actually touching, it's pretty nice and squishy. The thing Honda has going for it is not just that there's a lot of space, but it makes smart use of it. The console is divided into specific and convenient little cubbies, including a sliding tray that you can put your phone on, or you can tuck it away where the USB ports are. Even though I like the design of the center stack, I think Honda made some weird choices about where it put some of the controls. Like the Economy button is huge and over here, and the other driving buttons, like the things for your lane watch and the emergency braking warning-- that's over here. It seems like all those driving things should be in the same place. There's also this big screen, but only, like, this much of it is being used. I don't understand that decision. I do love the fact that they added in a volume knob. I mean, we joke about it, but this is a really valuable thing. I like the layout of the dash on the CR-V. It has this cool design for the fuel gauge and for the temperature, although it's not super legible. So definitely sacrificing style. Plus, even though it has a digital dash in the middle, they got really stingy on the controls for cycling through that menu, and you have to switch it using this information button to say whether you want to control the center menu or you want to control the menu on the screen. It's very confusing and not awesome to do while you're driving. The CR-V has adaptive cruise control, and it works really well. You can set it even at a very low speed. You can change the speed that you want it to go at. And I felt like overall, the car does a good job of controlling its speed on the freeway, depending on the traffic. But it's a very, very small icon on the dash that tells you when it's on, and because it's very easy to turn it off by, like, tapping the brake or something, I feel like it's dangerous to not have it be more obvious. I know Honda can make a really obvious warning because when the emergency braking warning is on, it's, like, this big and bright orange and flashing. They should do the same thing for when the adaptive cruise control is on. WILL KAUFMAN: One of the big reasons people choose SUVs over sedans is how much cargo space they offer. So let's see how these three stack up. The CR-V easily fit all of our very precious cargo, and it actually could have taken more. We had the floor in the higher position, and it can be lowered a bit. The RAV4 looks like it took almost as much, but what you can't see is how much more time we spent trying to make everything fit. The CR-V was just a lot easier. And obviously, the CX-5 comes in last. Behind the rear seat, it's more than 20% smaller than the CR-V, and you can really see the difference. [MUSIC PLAYING] ELANA SCHERR: Hey. MARK TAKAHASHI: Hey. ELANA SCHERR: We have tested them on the track and we have driven them in the suburbs. I think we're ready to declare a winner. Will, do you want to start us off? WILL KAUFMAN: Well, the 2019 RAV4 has been completely redesigned, and it's definitely got more attitude and more personality. It's also the most rugged of this bunch, but it's been slipping in terms of performance and value, and for that reason, it's both fallen down our rankings at Edmunds, and it comes in third in this test. MARK TAKAHASHI: The CX-5 remains my choice for the power, the performance, and the luxury. But I realize it does have some shortcomings, so I yield to the CR-V. WILL KAUFMAN: Way to ruin my surprise. I mean, nobody knew what was coming next. The CR-V is good at everything and bad at nothing, so it's the big dog in our small SUV comparison. Undisputed winner. Number one. MARK TAKAHASHI: For more information on all three of these SUVs, as well as its competition, head on over to Edmunds.com. To see more videos like this, hit Subscribe! ELANA SCHERR: Oh, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and Myspace and Reddit. WILL KAUFMAN: Like a Wattpad? ELANA SCHERR: And Friendster. WILL KAUFMAN: Got a Wattpad? A LiveJournal. ELANA SCHERR: And, like, come visit.
Mazda CX-5 vs. Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4: 2019 Compact-SUV Comparison Test
It's time to revisit our compact-SUV comparison test to see if changes to the 2019 Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 mean they can unseat our current champion, the Honda CR-V. Last year, the Honda CR-V took the crown, but the Toyota RAV4 has been totally redesigned, and the Mazda CX-5 has a… new engine and a new luxurious top trim level. We test all three crossovers at the track, drive them in the suburbs, load them full of cargo, and figure out what all the buttons do so that we can pick a winner. Which small SUV is the best? Watch our triple test to find out.
2019 CX-5 Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$141/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the CX-5 models:
- Smart Brake Support
- Sounds an alert and applies the brakes when it detects the risk of an imminent front crash.
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Provides gentle steering guidance to prevent you from inadvertently drifting out of your lane.
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
- Alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from the rear when, say, reversing from a parking stall.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover17.4%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood