2018 Mazda CX-5

Starting Price: $25,125 | Price Yours

Above Average: Dynamic responses, upscale interior appointments

Below Average: Only one engine and transmission, no hybrid option, diminished cargo space

Consensus: Quiet, composed, and nicely appointed, the CX-5 is engineered to please owners who enjoy driving


2018 Toyota RAV4

Starting Price: $25,555 |Price Yours

Above Average: Toyota’s world class hybrid system, 24 years of development yields outstanding quality and durability

Below Average: Performance with standard engine merely adequate, fuel economy just average

Consensus: Not the right ride for thrill-seekers, but the RAV4 is tops in terms of quality and comfort, a perennial Toyota bestseller


The CX-5 dates its genesis to the Shinari concept unveiled in 2011, a manifestation of Mazda’s swoopy new Kodo design language. Based on the same front-drive architecture as the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 sedans, it entered production in 2013 and immediately won acclaim for its athletic responses. Restyled for 2017, the CX-5 looks slicker than the first generation, at the expense of its cargo space. Aside from all-wheel drive, it offers no drivetrain options, but interior features are upscale, and its dynamics are best in class. Introduced in 1994, the RAV4 inspired the vehicle class—compact crossover SUVs—that it dominates today. As an index of its success, the RAV4 was fourth on the 2017 list of bestselling vehicles, trailing only the full-size pickups from Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram. The RAV4’s virtues are standard Toyota—no-problem, low-cost ownership, and a hybrid system that’s been the gold standard since its introduction in 1997. Note: a major RAV4 redesign is planned for model year 2019.

Mazda CX-5 Advantages

Slick good looks, solid chassis, athletic soul

Toyota RAV4 Advantages

Comfortable and quiet, trouble-free track record, comprehensive list of standard driver assist safety features


Both vehicles are based on front-drive passenger car architecture, both offer all-wheel drive

Final Recommendation

Thanks to its lengthy development, the RAV4 is refined and typically Toyota in terms of quality and reliability. Though there are competing vehicles that offer more performance, it continues to be the class gold standard. The CX-5 also exudes quality, but it stands out for its dynamics—it’s the sports car of this class.

  2018 Mazda CX-5 2018 Toyota RAV4
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.5-liter I4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 187 hp @ 6000 rpm 175 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm 172 lb-ft@ 4200 rpm
Transmission Automatic 6-spd Automatic 6-spd
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (25 city, 31 hwy) 26 mpg (23 city, 30 hwy)
Also Available N/A 194-hp gasoline-electric hybrid system
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.2 inches 104.7 inches
Overall Length 179.1 inches 185.5 inches
Width 72.5 inches 72.6 inches
Height 66.2 inches 65.9 inches
Turning Diameter 38.7 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 41.6 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.5 inches 38.9 inches
Legroom, Front 43.0 inches 42.6 inches
Legroom, Rear 37.9 inches 37.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.6 inches 57.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.9 inches 55.4 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 103.8 cu. ft. 100.7 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 30.9 cu. ft. 38.4 cu. ft.
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