The compact SUV market is flooded with a lot of vehicles these days, but the two that truly stands out as leaders in the market has been these, the Honda Crv and the Mazda CX-5. Both of these cute-uts offer practicality and which checks the boxes for a lot of buyers however there are a few things that do set them apart.
Looks wise, the CRV is more traditional even with the Volvo-esque vertical taillights it does seem more “normal” than the Cx-5. This being the top Touring trim it features Honda’s excellent LED headlights which do a very good job at providing wide and bright illumination down the road. On the other hand, the cx-5 is sportier in its appearance. With a more aggressive front end and headlight treatment, it does look angrier than the CRV. Mazda has followed it’s “Kodo” design language which really simulates a better flow on the sheet metal, which some say is quite elegant.
Inside the two is where most of the difference can be felt. The cx-5’s materials are a grade above with more plush leather everywhere within the cabin. Not to say the CRV is cheap in any way, comparing to the previous generation the CRV is sleek and functional. There is still leather on the seats and armrest, but it doesn’t offer the same high-quality feel. The Mazda simply feels more upscale.
While Feeling upscale is separating factor usability is another. Honda did some great work when creating this generation of the CRV. Everything falls into hand nicely with a good and easy to use infotainment system. Although it’s not as new as the one found in the new Pilot, Accord to name a few it’s still functional with a small delay. Mazda’s unit, on the other hand, has a dial on the centre console while effective it’s not as easy to use as a touch screen that Honda has but with muscle memory over time, it does get easier. A trade-off would be since this is a 2018 model Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is not included. It can be added for a few hundred dollars from the dealer, but it is something to note
For the rest of the cabin, the CX5 continues with it’s higher end feel with soft plush white leather. I’m quite surprised with over 9000km on it there’s little to no wear marks on these seats from jeans of the previous journalist. While all the outboard occupants of both vehicles to get the luxury of heated seat surfaces, it’s the CRV that comes out on top allowing for more rear seat room as well as more space behind the seats.
Little known fact, in some markets the CRV can be optioned with a 3rd row allowing 7 passengers to sit comfortably. This is why the cargo area within the CRV is vastly superior to that found in the Cx-5. While both offer power liftgate, the CRV has a kick to open, and it has a lower load floor allowing easier access to the cargo area.
On the road, the CRV is the softer choice, the ride is plusher soaking up bumps and imperfection. The CX-5, on the other hand, has heavier steering giving the driver a bit more control and feel of the road. The suspension is a bit stiffer, it’s not jarring, but you can feel the bumps in the road rather than softly gliding over them.
Under the hood the CRV uses a 1.5L Turbo 4 making 190hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, all that grunt is available down low making acceleration a breeze. Mated to the engine is Honda’s CVT transmission. While it is better than before it does kill a lot of the fun while driving. A quick stab of the throttle will take a second or two for the car to wake up before it starts moving. The cx5 is the complete opposite it’s quick in its response. With a bit of throttle input, the transmission skips down a gear and lunges the car forward. While the CX5 feels faster and sounds faster, in practice, the CRV is the one that beats it simply due to that low down torque from the turbo motor.
Consumption wise the CRV was able to continually achieve 10L/100km in the city while the CX-5 returned a bit more at 10.6. EPA figures for the CX-5 is at 9.8 in the city and 7.9 on the highway, the CRV is rated for 8.7 in the city and 7.2 on the highway. So there’s no doubt the turbo engine and CVT help with fuel economy. The CX-5 has cylinder deactivation during lighter loads so it can be quite efficient on the highway.
Overall both of these are excellent SUVs for the mass market, both at $40k they hit different sectors of the market. The CRV is the comfortable riding everyday driver while the CX5 is made for the driver that had to give up his or her sports car due to family needs. Both are excellent contenders for your vehicle in the garage however it’s up to you as the driver to pick what is more important.