Volkswagen Tiguan vs. Mazda CX-5

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - December 18, 2017

The redesigned 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan boasts a larger interior and up-to-date safety technology, making it a more practical vehicle that retains the sprightly handling and upscale vibe that buyers have come to appreciate.

The Mazda CX-5 underwent a similar transformation last year, becoming more conventional without losing its punchy character.

Which is the better choice for buyers who want equal parts utility and driving enjoyment?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Tiguan & CX-5 »

What the Tiguan Gets Right

In past years, it was easy to appreciate the Tiguan for its polished interior and alert reflexes, but it was just as easy to identify its shortcomings: cramped rear quarters and no accident-avoidance features beyond a rearview camera. We're happy to report this is no longer the case.

The new Tiguan is 10 inches longer than its predecessor, enough to make a dramatic difference in rear passenger comfort and cargo capacity. With the seats folded, the Tiguan can swallow up to 73.5 cubic feet of stuff, which puts it near the top of this class. There's even an optional third row for seven-passenger capacity (although it's not exactly roomy back there).

New driver assists include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. They're optional on the base Tiguan and standard everywhere else in the lineup. Top-trim models also receive surround-view cameras and lane keeping assist.

The Tiguan is once again powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower. According to EPA estimates, the Tiguan delivers 24 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, or 23 mpg with the optional all-wheel drive system. All models carry an eight-speed automatic transmission.

What the CX-5 Gets Right

As a class, small crossover aren't particularly fun to drive, but the CX-5 is the exception. It's remarkably nimble in everyday driving and athletic enough to take through the twisties just for the fun of it.

There's 59.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded, which isn't great, but not a deal breaker by any means. The passenger compartment feels airy and comes standard with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. There are no letdowns in terms of the fit or finish of interior materials

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine generates 184 hp, so the CX-5's acceleration at least matches its handling potential. A six-speed automatic is also standard. The 2.5-liter features cylinder deactivation for enhanced efficiency. The CX-5 is EPA-rated at 28 mpg in combined driving, or 25 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Whats Matters More?

The new Tiguan matches the spunky CX-5 in safety technology and surpasses it in sheer utility. The CX-5 still has the edge on overall handling and performance, and a clear advantage in efficiency.

Our Verdict: Mazda CX-5

While it can't carry as much as some competitors, the CX-5 shines in both performance and efficiency, two strong points we don't usually find in the same vehicle.

Take a closer look at the Volkswagen Tiguan »

Take a closer look at the Mazda CX-5 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.