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Darn it, the 2021 Honda CR-V came in second place again. This time the 2021 Mazda CX-5 just outranked it on a list of the Best Small SUVs for 2021. The Honda CR-V keeps getting to wear the silver medal, but never the gold. 

The 2021 Honda CR-V vs. the 2021 Mazda CX-5 

A blue 2021 Honda CR-V driving in the city
2021 Honda CR-V | Honda

According to Roadshow, the best small SUV for this year is the 2021 Mazda CX-5 instead of the 2021 Honda CR-V. This is yet another list where the Honda CR-V receives a ton of praise but can’t claim the victory spot. 

The Mazda CX-5 claimed the top spot because it has an interior that rivals luxury options, it’s fun to drive, and it’s easy to maneuver in tight city areas, and it provides enough space for the whole family. 

But the CR-V is listed as still worthy of plenty of attention for being affordable, providing tons of space for families, and being value-packed. Its drawbacks include having an outdated infotainment system and an average fuel economy. 

How do the CR-V and CX-5 perform? 

With the 2021 Mazda CX-5, you get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine for up to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. You need 93 octane fuel to reach 250 hp. 

When properly equipped, the Mazda CX-5 can tow up to 2,000 lbs. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds with the base engine, and it reaches 60 mph in about 6.6 seconds with the turbo. 

The 2021 Honda CR-V comes with a standard 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 1,500 lbs. Both of these SUVs can tow smaller boats and trailers, but we would recommend going with something more powerful to pull campers. 

The CR-V can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. The CR-V has responsive steering and handling, but the CX-5 provides more control. Also, the CR-V has a smoother ride over bumps and may have a quieter cabin at highway speeds. 

With the CX-5, you get an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and up to 31 mpg on the highway. The CR-V is a little better, with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and up to 34 mpg on the highway. 

Does the CX-5 or Honda CR-V have better features? 

A red 2021 Mazda CX-5 driving through the city
2021 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

According to Edmunds, the 2021 Honda CR-V has a more spacious and comfortable cabin. In the 2021 Mazda CX-5, rear passengers may feel cramped, and the seats feel a little firm. Smaller rear windows also limit visibility. 

The Honda CR-V offers 39.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats with up to 75.8 cubic feet total. There are only 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats of the Mazda CX-5, with up to 59.6 cubes total. 

With the Mazda CX-5, you get a 10.3-inch infotainment system, but it’s not a touchscreen. The Honda CR-V has a 7.0-inch touch screen with clunky menus. Both come with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both SUVs come with standard automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. 

The Honda CR-V begins at about $25,350, and the Mazda CX-5 starts at around $25,370. We think the CR-V deserves more respect as a more spacious and comfortable option against the CX-5. Sure, the infotainment system is a little slow, but at least it has a touchscreen. The CX-5 may provide more fun. Perhaps you should test drive them both.


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