Now in their sophomore seasons, the Subaru XV Crosstrek and Mazda CX-5 continue to offer uncommon manueverability and efficiency in the small crossover class. With either model, buyers enjoy a highly functional interior, spunky performance and solid value.
Which youthful crossover impresses us more with its overall ability?
Where the XV Crosstrek Scores
The XV Crosstek is based on the latest Impreza, but rides three inches higher and carries a more rugged suspension. All examples are equipped with all-wheel drive and an impressive load of standard features like heated seats and mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and streaming audio.
The 148-horsepower 2-liter returns 28 mpg in combined driving when matched with the available continuously variable transmission (CVT). In contrast to its rugged-sporty looks, the Crosstrek delivers a hushed highway ride and calming environment for five passengers. Subaru's all-wheel drive system works flawlessy on ragged and slippery surfaces.
Where the CX-5 Scores
Drivers will find the CX-5 to be more athletic than its rivals, with confident braking and smile-inducing responsiveness on twisty roads. Fuel economy from the 2-liter four-cylinder is top notch: 29 mpg in combined driving. Although its 155 horsepower is at the low end of this class, the CX-5 accelerates just as well as other non-turbo crossovers.
Higher trim levels get a new 2.5-liter with 184 horsepower, which delivers robust acceleration with only a slight loss in economy.
The CX-5's interior design is mature and highly functional, devoid of any questionable ornamentation. Cargo space is competitive at 65 cubic feet, and the load floor is nearly flat.
The Final Score
Subaru fans will love the XV Crosstrek's strong character, and everyone will appreciate its abundant standard features. The CX-5 is an all-around rewarding performer with enough cargo space to satisfy most crossover buyers.
Our Verdict: Mazda CX-5
Fun yet composed, the CX-5 shines as a mainstream crossover with a special twist.