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In the hotly contested compact crossover SUV segment, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4 are leading choices. Both vehicles are solid picks, but the 2023 Mazda CX-5 has one huge strength over the 2023 Toyota RAV4: better driving dynamics. 

2023 Mazda CX-5 has better driving dynamics than the 2023 Toyota RAV4

White 2023 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV driving on a street
2023 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

There are various reasons to choose a specific compact SUV model, whether it’s the styling, available features and technologies, reliability, safety, and interior space and comfort. Another is driving dynamics — and on this front, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is better than the 2023 Toyota RAV4. 

In terms of pure driving excitement, the CX-5 is the superior choice. It’s more fun to drive. A hallmark of the Mazda brand is to infuse its vehicles with driving capabilities that one would only expect to find in a luxury vehicle. And the Japanese automaker has done this with the CX-5.

As detailed by Car and Driver, the CX-5 provides nimble handling — and has the ride quality of compact SUVs that cost twice as much. No other mainstream compact SUV comes close to matching its high-quality driving dynamics, including the RAV4. 

The CX-5 also has “composed cornering and precise steering.” Plus, there’s minimal road noise, and the damping has a nice balance between being not too “stiff nor floaty.” There’s confident braking as well. Furthermore, you don’t have to drive the CX-5 too hard to experience all of these driving capabilities. 

2023 CX-5 offers a more powerful engine than the standard 2023 RAV4 model

Rear angle view of blue 2023 Toyota RAV4 compact crossover SUV
2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Another thing that contributes to the impressive driving dynamics of the 2023 Mazda CX-5 is its available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Mated to a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, it doles out 256 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. Also, acceleration for the compact SUV is brisk, with a 0-60 mph time of 6.2 seconds. 

In comparison, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 comes equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces only 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 mph time is 7.8 seconds. While the RAV4 offers a more powerful and quicker (and much more expensive) Prime plug-in hybrid model, for the standard fully gas-powered model, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is the only option. 

Other ways the Mazda CX-5 is better than the Toyota RAV4

There are other ways the 2023 CX-5 is better than the 2023 RAV4. All CX-5 models come standard with a traction-enhancing all-wheel drive system. However, for the RAV4, all-wheel drive is optional, so you have to pay extra.

Another benefit is more passenger space. Both compact SUVs can seat up to five people, but the CX-5 has a total passenger volume of 104 cu-ft, compared to 98.9 cu-ft for the RAV4. This extra space is most noticeable in the rear seats, with 39.6 inches of rear legroom in the CX-5 and 37.8 inches in the RAV4. Furthermore, the cabin of the CX-5 is more upscale than in the RAV4. 

Also, the CX-5 is more affordable. It has a starting price of $26,700 MSRP, compared to $27,975 MSRP for the RAV4.

With its better driving dynamics, the 2023 Mazda CX-5 has a huge strength over the 2023 Toyota RAV4. When choosing between the two compact crossover SUVs, the superior driving dynamics is an important factor to consider.


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