Toyota RAV4 vs. Mazda CX-5

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - April 29, 2019

Automakers may be making more room in their lineups for crossovers and SUVs, but Toyota hit the nail on the head with the RAV4 decades ago. The RAV4 continues to be one of America's best-selling crossovers and one of the automaker's most popular vehicles. There's very little that the RAV4 does wrong, especially with the all-new model that came out for the 2019 model year.

While the RAV4 takes a rugged approach to being a compact crossover, the Mazda CX-5 is a more athletic and stylish vehicle. Both, though, are similarly sized, have similar price tags, and a dose of versatility. How do these two models stack up against one another? Let's find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the RAV4 & CX-5 »

What the CX-5 Gets Right

Despite having a more stylish design, the CX-5 is the more affordable option of the two. Pricing for Mazda's compact crossover starts at $25,345 for the 2019 model year, which includes destination. The entry-level Toyota RAV4 has a starting price tag of $26,595. The $1,250 price difference between the two is a large margin that leaves room to get into a CX-5 with all-wheel drive for only $150 more than a front-wheel-drive RAV4.

The CX-5 and the RAV4 may both be classified as compact crossovers, but Mazda's option is more spacious on the inside. The CX-5 has more front head room, front and rear hip room, and rear leg room than the RAV4.

When it comes to available engines, the CX-5's available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes much more power than the RAV4's sole 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Mazda's range-topping engine makes 250 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque; the RAV4's four-cylinder motor produces 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque.

What the RAV4 Gets Right

The RAV4's rugged design actually translates to the vehicle being the more versatile utility vehicle of the two. Cargo space is up in the RAV4, which can hold up to 38 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats in place and a total of 70 cubic feet of cargo. The CX-5 lags behind, with 31 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and a total of 60 cubic feet of space.

With an available hybrid powertrain, the RAV4 is the crossover for consumers that want to save money on gas. The RAV4 Hybrid comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that makes a combined 219 hp. The EPA rates the RAV4 Hybrid to get 41 miles per gallon city, 38 mpg highway, and 40 combined. The CX-5's most efficient powertrain is rated at 25/31/28 mpg (city/highway/combined).

In terms of safety features, the RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 as standard, which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency raking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and road sign assist. While the CX-5 comes with some safety features as standard, it can't match the RAV4's lengthy list.

Who Is the CX-5 For?

The CX-5 upholds Mazda's claim to fame of making vehicles that are enjoyable to drive, but the compact crossover is also one of the more handsome vehicles in its class. If having a small utility vehicle that rides and handles similarly to a large hatchback takes precedent over cargo space or off-roading, the Mazda CX-5 is an appealing option.

Our Verdict: Toyota RAV4

With an available hybrid powertrain and an off-road-oriented Adventure trim, the Toyota RAV4 appeals to drivers that want to save money at the pumps and/or travel on roads that aren't paved – and this is on top of being a practical, do-it-all crossover.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 »

Take a closer look at the Mazda CX-5 »

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

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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