Taking the medium-sized SUV arena by storm, both the Mazda CX5 and Toyota RAV4 have established a strong market dominance.
In 2020, around 336,000 RAV4s were purchased in Australia, making the model easily the best seller in the SUV class. Amazingly, a significant proportion of the purchased models were the hybrid variety, which says a great deal about the positives of this Toyota - hybrids aren't generally a popular choice here in Australia.
The CX5 sales volume is not quite as high as the RAV4, but this is largely due to Mazda deliberately aiming to attract a different audience: whereas Toyota have opted to manufacture a generic, all-purpose SUV, Mazda have aimed to create a more upmarket, high-end feel to the CX5, attracting a different demographic of driver.
Read on to discover the key similarities and differences between the two, and which one is going to best suit your aspirations. In this article we review.
The CX5 has been around since 2012. Since then, it has undergone a number of updates and revamps which have significantly improved the car as time has gone on. The 2021 model is available in six different AWD versions (the Maxx, Maxx Sport, Touring model, GT, GT SP, and the Akera), as well as two 4WD variations: the Maxx and the Maxx Sport.
If you're looking for quality, the CX5 has it in spades! With one of the plushest interiors in its class, the vehicle also benefits from a powerful 2.5l petrol 4-cylinder that ensures it's the fastest middle-sized SUV by a good margin.
Quiet and comfortable to drive, this is a vehicle that offers a premium motoring experience.
Interior and Exterior Design
2021 sees the arrival of a GT SP version of the CX5. Slotting in between the GT and the top-of-the-line Akera, the GT SP benefits from darker styling (including metallic, black alloys) that gives it a snappier, more sophisticated vibe.
Overall the exterior is understated at the same time as exuding a definite presence. The interior is absolutely beautiful, in addition to being spacious and packed with technology. Options such as a real wood trim and nappa leather (in the Akera) create a luxury feel that you wouldn't normally associate with a crossover. Features such as keyless entry, a sunroof, dual-climate control, and ventilated front seats add value to back up the stunning aesthetic.
When it comes to the AWD, buyers get a 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol four-cylinder engine, with 252Nm of torque. For more power, the a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine is available for AWD Akera, GT SP or GT purchasers.
This puts out a hefty 420Nm of torque - plenty to play with! There's also a 2.2l twin-turbo diesel version, which offers 450Nm of torque. Unfortunately, the juicy performance does come at a cost to energy-efficiency: fuel consumption is estimated at 6.9l/100km for the basic 2.5l non-turbo. The turbo version's consumption is around 7.4/100km, with the diesel variant consuming about 5.7l/100km.
Featuring a multi-purpose information display, a Bose audio system, and a 360 degree view monitor, the CX5 has all the tech you would expect from a top-of-the-range SUV.
Technology allows passengers plenty of opportunity to control their interior environment, at the same time as offering connectivity, convenience and comfort. Little touches, such as charging points in the rear, add value.
ANCAP 5-star rated, the CX5 scores highly across all safety criteria. In addition to plenty of built-in safety features, including an extremely robust chassis, tech such as lane departure warning, radar cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring and smart braking support all ensure the safety of occupants, as well as reducing the risk of a collision.
Prices for the CX5 start around $30,980 for a basic FWD Maxx, right up to $52,380 for an all-singing, all-dancing top-of-the-range AWD Akera.
Dominating the middle-sized SUV market, the RAV4 is an award-winning crossover that enjoys a formidable reputation in the sector. Comfortable, refreshingly large, and with competitive fuel efficiency, this is an SUV that's able to hold its own in urban environments, as well as shine on the trail.
The RAV4 is well-known for its spacious interior and high level of comfort. It also comes in a hybrid form, which benefits from exceptionally low fuel consumption: 4.7l/100km - perfect for cost-conscious motorists who are also concerned about the planet.
Interior and Exterior Design
The 2021 version is slightly longer and lower than previous incarnations, perhaps a response to the "boxy" descriptors which tend to define the RAV4 in reviews. That said, this is an SUV, not a track car, so most people can forgive angular lines due to the interior space gains a more rectangular cabin can provide. With seven colours available, including an eye-catching turquoise, provides plenty of variety.
Inside, the Toyota doesn't disappoint: the interior area offers ample space, enabling all passengers to sit in comfort, even on longer journeys. Reviewers describe the seats as extremely comfortable, whilst details such as a panoramic roof, additional storage, and plenty of connectivity combine to create an exceptional occupancy experience.
The base-spec engine is a 2.0l petrol offering, with the option of a 2.5l AWD hybrid option. Torque comes in at 203Nm, and 221Nm, respectively. Petrol consumption for the hybrid is around 4.7l/100km for the hybrid 2WD, and 4.8l/100km for the AWD version. The standard engine's consumption is about 6.5l/100km. Fuel efficiency is a major plus for the RAV4.
As you would expect from an award-winning bestseller, the Toyota has all the tech needed for a safe, convenient driving experience. An Apply Car Play/Android Auto compatible infotainment screen, alongside sat nav, climate control, and steering wheel controls are just some of the features that have been incorporated into the cabin.
Like the CX5, the RAV4 is 5-star ANCAP rated. Cruise control, a cyclist and pedestrian pre-collision safety system, lane departure warning, road sign assist, and auto high beam all form an integral part of the Toyota's safety systems.
Whilst there's nothing particularly innovative about the safety aspect of the Toyota, it's certainly got everything needed for low-risk motoring.
Prices for the RAV4 start at around $32,695, going right up to $48, 915 for the Edge AWD 2.5-litre auto version.
Pros and Cons
There's no denying that both of these stunning SUVs are impressive crossovers that have plenty to commend them. Personal priorities and preferences will ultimately determine which option is going to best suit your needs.
If quality is important to you, then the Mazda is probably going to work best. Beautifully styled using premium materials and an exceptional level of attention to detail, the CX5 offers a high-end interior, a smooth, powerful drive, and plenty of features.
Critics argue that the Mazda's interior is a little narrow, and also complain regarding a diminutive boot.
These issues don't really impact on viability unless you regularly transport four passengers, in which case three in the back can feel a little cosy, and there is an issue around accessing the rear charging points if the middle seat is in use. The Mazda is also a driver's car: if you like quiet, understated performance, the Mazda doesn't disappoint.
Conversely, if running costs and space are important, the RAV4 is probably going to be a better choice. The RAV4 had been praised for its generous sizing and low fuel consumption, but criticised for cabin noise and a distinctly utilitarian interior. That said, families with younger children will appreciate the capacious rear seating and plastic surfaces which are straight-forward to wipe down.