Over the holidays I stopped by the Mazda dealer to check out the latest CX-5 with the 2.5L Turbo engine. The engine, which was in the much larger CX-9 has been added to the two top trim levels of the CX-5. This is something that was not available when we purchased our CR-V back in 2017, so I felt I owed it to myself to check it out.
1) Looks significantly smaller than the CR-V on the outside. (Specs show it's only a few inches smaller in length and height).
2) Has nice styling, very elegant, vs the CR-V tries to look a bit more rugged.
3) 19" Wheels are very attractive.
4) Low profile tires help give the CX-5 a sporty look.
1) Interior feels a lot smaller than the CR-V. Passenger volume is about the same, cargo volume is about 8 cu.ft. less.
2) The Nappa leather is really nice.
3) Layout (ergonomics) not as nice as the CR-V. For example, the location of the shifter is very traditional. I like the way Honda has very efficiently laid out the center console area.
4) Why do manufacturers all want to put gloss (piano) black finishes in a car? It scratches easily and always shows dust. Looking past that, the controls seem a bit bunched together on the center console but I do like all the buttons for the climate control. If there is one complaint I have with the CR-V, is that you need to use the touch screen to select some of the climate control settings. Honda did a much better job in the 2018 Accord.
5) I prefer the digital instrumentation in the CR-V, the CX-5 just has a digital center gauge.
6) The back seats have much less leg room than the CR-V.
1) Suspension is stiffer, bouncier. You can really feel that shorter wheelbase and the low profile tires. I don't mind a stiffer suspension if it means better handling. However, checking the specs on C&D, the CR-V actually beats the CX-5 in all the handling and braking tests.
2) I expected the engine to feel more powerful. The CR-V has a 1.5L Turbo, churning out 190hp, mated to a CVT. The 2019 Mazda has a 2.5L Turbo, churning out 227hp (per the window sticker) mated to a 6-speed auto. The engine did feel a bit faster but not as much as I expected, not anywhere near the feeling of power I get in my 2018 Accord 2.0T. It's interesting that C&D rates the CX-5 2.5T as having 250hp, when it was clearly printed by Mazda at 227hp on the window sticker. Mazda has had issues in the past with overstating the HP numbers, maybe they backed off on the numbers to represent what you are really getting on 87 octane fuel.
3) The controls for the Active Safety features were ambiguous, I had a difficult time knowing if I had LKAS on/off, ACC on/off.
4) Mazda's idea of LKAS assist is different than Honda's. In the Mazda, the CX-5 LKAS didn't try to keep you in the lane, instead it waited until you left the lane and would steer you back into the lane. Even though that seemed more like the RDMS, the salesperson said that's the LKAS feature. I was confused but okay, if you say so.
5) On the highway I noticed more wind noise than on our CR-V, but a bit less engine noise.
6) The ventilated seats were really nice.
7) Fuel economy isn't as good, but then again the engine has 66% more displacement. Even though the salesperson said the CX-5 has cylinder deactivation, the MPG is probably about right given the larger engine.
8) Mazda includes a HU display so you can see digital info floating in front of you out in space. It's a nice thing, Honda put it in the Accord, but it's by no means a necessity for me.
The C&D as tested price on the top of the line CX-5 Signature is $39,155, compared to the CR-V Touring's $34,595, that's a difference of $4,560. For that you get the larger 2.5T engine with more power, a heated steering wheel, ventilated seats with Nappa leather, and a HU display.
For me, I couldn't see spending the extra nearly $5k for the added features and what felt like only a bit more power. Yes, C&D shows the CX-5 as being more than a second faster 0-60 but I expected the vehicle to feel like it has more power given the acceleration numbers. I liked the Nappa leather but the rest of the interior didn't seem any more upscale than the Honda. I think my 2018 Accord has a more upscale interior than the CX-5 (and it cost $8k less).
The driving dynamics felt good, however, the C&D numbers doesn't show them as being better. In fact, the braking is several feet longer on the CX-5.
In the end, we really like our CR-V, it's more roomy, quieter, and performs well enough. Sure, I wouldn't mind it if Honda put the 2.0T Accord engine in it, but they needed to save that for the 2018 Acura RDX, which reminds me, I need to test drive one of those.