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2020 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Mazda CX-5: What’s the Difference?

You may have noticed that the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is one of the highest-rated models of the year. The CX-5 boasts a luxurious-focused driving experience at a bargain price. You can still get a brand-new 2020 model, but should you go with the 2021 CX-5 instead?

Why the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is a standout 

2020 Mazda CX-5 parked on street
2020 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

Reviewers rave about the Mazda’s CX-5 because of its sportiness and remarkably quiet interior. It still doesn’t sell as well as some of its rivals, but the CX-5 has a lot going for it. It’s comfortable, gets good gas mileage, and offers many premium features.

Many reviewers say that it’s hard to go wrong with any CX-5 trim level. The entry-level Sport trim is a great choice if value is your top priority. It comes with a 187-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a silky six-speed automatic The CX-5’s base engine is sufficient for everyday rides, but some say it could use more passing power on the highway. 

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature's interior as seen from the rear seats
2020 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD rear interior | Matthew Skwarczek

The 2020 CX-5 presents two optional engines. For the most power and animation, there’s the available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 250-hp. If you’re interested in the range-topping Signature trim, you get a 168-hp, 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine.

Furthermore, the 2020 CX-5 is also pretty good on tech. All models come with a suite of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. The CX-5 is also standard with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and HD Radio. The downside here is that the CX-5’s touchscreen isn’t the most user-friendly, and you have to upgrade from the base trim to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

What’s new for 2021?

The inside of the 2021 CX-5 offers a bold color scheme.
2021 Mazda CX-5 interior | Mazda

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 Mazda made some noteworthy improvements for the 2021 CX-5. The most significant change is that the 2021 CX-5 brings a modern infotainment system, addressing the outgoing version’s main complaint. Instead of the 7-inch touchscreen, you get on the outgoing model, the 2021 CX-5 comes standard with 10.3-inch one. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard across the lineup too.

The 2021 Mazda Carbon Edition lineup – CX-5, CX-9, and Mazda6
The 2021 Mazda Carbon Edition lineup | Mazda

Additionally, Mazda added driver attention monitoring and reverse automatic emergency braking as optional features. What’s also new-for-2021 is that the Mazda introduced the Carbon Edition trim. It’s distinguished by Polymetal Gray paint on the outside and red leather seats on the inside. Plus, the Carbon Edition allows you to get the CX-5’s most powerful engine without opting for the top-level trims. Another thing to mention here is that Mazda decided to discontinue the turbo-diesel option for 2021. 

So, should you get the 2020 CX-5 or the 2021 CX-5?

A detailed view of the Mazda CX-5 during the L.A. Auto Show
A Mazda CX-5 at the rear | Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co.

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Despite a few flaws, the 2020 CX-5 is a well-rounded option. If you aren’t a huge tech fan or have been particularly interested in the outgoing turbo-diesel model, you might want to go with the 2020 version. What also makes the 2020 model more attractive at this point is the extra incentives. Depending on local inventory, you can save around $4K on a 2020 CX-5. But if more advanced tech is what you’re after, we’d say that the 2021 model is worth the upgrade.