Best Cars Blog

Honda CR-V vs. Mazda CX-5

Car shoppers tend to look at compact SUVs because they like the extra cargo space and higher driving position that compact SUVs typically provide. Most compact SUVs are also crossovers, which means that though they have more space and are taller than cars, they tend to drive like sedans instead of rough-and-tumble SUVs.  That car-like performance is a selling point for most compact SUV buyers, but few compact SUVs have the sport-sedan performance that some buyers want.

[See full compact SUV rankings]

That’s where the Mazda CX-5 comes in. It’s a compact SUV that most reviewers agree is actually fun to drive. However, most compact SUV buyers still want a big dose of practicality and reliability. The Honda CR-V is practically synonymous with the kind of day-to-day livability that compact SUV buyers crave. With its sporty nature, can the Mazda CX-5 keep up with the utility-minded Honda CR-V and let compact SUV buyers have their cake and eat it too? Let’s find out.

2014 Honda CR-V LX 2WD

2015 Mazda CX-5 Sport 2WD Automatic

185 horsepower


155 horsepower


EPA-Estimated Annual Fuel Cost


104.1 cubic feet

Passenger Volume

103.8 cubic feet

37.2 cubic feet

Cargo Space

34.1 cubic feet

3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty


3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty

Rearview camera, Bluetooth, cruise control, conversation mirror, USB and auxiliary audio ports

Standard Features

USB and auxiliary input ports


Current Rank



Base Price


The Honda CR-V has a bit more passenger and cargo space than the CX-5 does. It also has a slightly higher price and a higher estimated annual fuel cost. But, for that extra money (and extra gas), the CR-V offers more standard features, as well as more power.

There’s a wrinkle in this comparison, though: we’re comparing base models. Reviewers love the sporty performance of the CX-5, but agree that in order to get that performance, you need to spring for the optional 2.5-liter engine, which brings the CX-5’s price up to nearly $25,000, but also brings the CX-5’s power in line with the CR-V’s. That extra power, plus the CX-5’s athletic handling, give it one of the best performance scores in the class. The CR-V, by comparison, has a fairly lackluster performance score.

[See Honda CR-V pictures and Mazda CX-5 pictures]

Though its higher trims are fun to drive, it seems like that’s not enough for the Mazda CX-5 to unseat the Honda CR-V when it comes to practicality and value for most compact SUV buyers. Mazda does have a few deals that might make the CX-5 more appealing. Right now, Mazda is offering zero-percent financing for up to five years on the CX-5, or buyers can lease the base model for $289 per month with no money down. Buyers can also lease the base CR-V with no money down at $280 per month, or they can finance the CR-V at 0.9 percent for up to five years, though the offer may not be available in all states.

[See all Honda deals and all Mazda Deals]

If you absolutely must have sporty performance in your compact SUV, the Mazda CX-5 has almost as much practicality as the class-leading Honda CR-V. Just know that in order to tear up back roads in a compact SUV, you’re going to have to pay a higher price. Then again, when you finish each drive with a grin on your face, you may decide it’s worth it.

[Compare the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 for yourself]

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