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2021 Mazda CX-5 vs Lexus NX 300: The Sensible Choice Is Clear

Over the past few years, Mazda has redesigned its entire lineup to exude a much more upscale approach. Take the Mazda CX-5, for example, it competes with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but if you were to sit inside all three of them, you would think that the CX-5 is better suited in a luxury class.

So instead of comparing it to one of the more mainstream cars, we thought it would make more sense to compare the Mazda CX-5 to a Lexus NX 300. And in the end, you’ll see that the more sensible choice is clear.

The advantages of choosing the Lexus NX 300

Starting off with the Lexus NX 300, we can see that it’s obviously in a class above the Mazda CX-5. Aside from the Lexus badge stuck to the front and rear of the car, the NX 300 exudes the class and sophistication that you would expect from the brand. From the large spindle grille up front to the soft rounded edges that complement the hard creases in the body

a front three-quarter shot of the 2021 Lexus NX 300
2021 Lexus NX 300 | Joe Santos

Stepping inside of the vehicle, there’s premium leather everywhere and soft-touch surfaces on the dashboard, door panels, and center console. The front and rear seats provide a good amount of comfort and bolstering, and there’s no mistaking the premium fit and finish that this Lexus provides.

As far as the mechanical touches, the Lexus NX comes standard with the brand’s Safety System+ 2.0, which is the suite of driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and a pre-collision system with passenger detection. And under the hood lies a 235-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that’s able to get the NX 300 from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds, according to Lexus.

2021 Lexus NX 300 interior shot
2021 Lexus NX 300 interior | Joe Santos

RELATED: No, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 Isn’t A Budget Mazda CX-5

The advantages of choosing the Mazda CX-5

On the other side of the table, it looks like the Mazda CX-5 can hold its own against the Lexus crossover. Its exterior aesthetics exude a sense of refinement with its rounded edges, slightly bulging hood, and wide front grille. And on the inside, the CX-5 comes standard with cloth seating, however, a full-leather interior can be had when you opt for the higher trim levels.

There are currently seven different trims to choose from and we have tested the highest Signature trim level. By shelling out the extra money for this trim, you’ll be treated to budget-minded opulence as the CX-5’s interior has the same type of look, feel, and soft-touch surfaces that the Lexus does. Although, the leather isn’t as soft.

2021 Mazda CX-5 in white posing on a mountain road
2021 Mazda CX-5 in white posing on a mountain road | Joe Santos

RELATED: The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Is a Miata With All-Wheel Drive

As far as the tech gadgetry, the Mazda CX-5 comes standard with the same type of driver-assist features and there’s a large 10.25-inch infotainment screen that sits front and center on the dashboard. It’s controlled by a large dial, as opposed to a touchpad on the Lexus, but the system is fairly easy to navigate.

Under the hood, you’ll get a turbocharged, 2.5-liter engine that produces 227 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque when you opt for the higher trim levels and we highly suggest that you do as the upmarket features alone are worth the extra cost.

A view of the interior of the 2021 Mazda CX-5
The interior of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

How do the two crossovers stack up?

Before we get to the price of each car, let’s take a look at how the two stack up in terms of interior dimensions:

Mazda CX-5

Front Headroom: 39.3 inches

Rear Headroom: 39 inches

Rear Legroom: 39.6 inches

Rear Hip Room: 55.3 inches

Lexus NX

Front Headroom: 38.2 inches

Rear Headroom: 38.1 inches

Rear Legroom: 36.1 inches

Rear Hip Room: 53.9 inches

One quick look and it’s clear that the Mazda CX-5 provides more front and rear seat room in all directions as compared to the Lexus NX 300. And when it comes to pricing, the Mazda CX-5 starts at around $25,000 and tops out around $38,000, while the Lexus starts at $37,000 and can easily reach close to $50,000 depending on the trim levels and options you choose.

As we can see, the Mazda CX-5 provides the same type of features, textures, and power as the Lexus NX 300. So we can now see that the more sensible choice is clear.