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The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is one of the best compact SUVs. Not only is it an affordable and capable crossover, but it also offers plenty of options and trims to choose from. That said, the most popular 2021 Mazda CX-5 trim among consumers might not be the best one.

According to Edmunds, the most popular 2021 Mazda CX-5 trim the Grand Touring. It starts at just over $34,000. For comparison, the base-model CX-5 Sport starts at about $27,000. That’s a steep $7,000 premium, but Mazda makes the up-charge worth the money. The Grand Touring doesn’t change the CX-5’s engine, but it gives this trim all-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive.

However, most of the upgrades are inside. The Grand Touring gets the Preferred SV package, which gives the CX-5 luxurious upgrades like leather upholstery, a sunroof, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system, among other perks, Edmunds reports. 

On top of that, the Grand Touring trim also adds features like satellite radio, adaptive headlights, and paddle shifters. The CX-5’s driver information display also gets an upgrade, and these features may make this SUV more fun to drive for some folks.

And though the Grand Touring costs $7,000 over the standard CX-5, it’s not that expensive overall. These factors might explain why consumers choose this trim over the others. But that doesn’t make it the best Mazda CX-5 trim.

The Mazda CX-5 Signature trim is great, too

The most expensive 2021 Mazda CX-5 trim is the Signature, and it costs just over $39,000. That’s roughly $12,000 over the standard CX-5 and $5,000 more than the Grand Touring. However, because the Signature is the top trim, it has plenty going for it.

Off the bat, the Signature has all the features the Grand Touring offers and also packs a more powerful turbocharged engine. The standard CX-5 engine makes 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, but the turbo-four on the Signature trim harnesses 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. 

Not only is the Signature trim sportier, but it’s also smarter and more luxurious. For example, Edmunds says the Signature trim gets ambient interior lighting, a 360-degree camera system, and many other high-end amenities.

The new Carbon Edition is powerful but affordable

Car and Driver‘s pick for the best Mazda CX-5 trim is the Carbon Edition. This trim, new for the 2021 model year, starts at about $30,000, thousands less than the Grand Touring and Signature trims. So it offers an attractive balance of style, price, power, and practicality. This is because the Carbon Edition, like the Grand Touring, also comes with the Preferred SV package, so it boasts quite a few luxury features.

Sure, the Carbon Edition isn’t as fancy as the Signature trim, but not everybody needs every feature the Signature offers. Furthermore, the main draw of the Carbon Edition is that it allows buyers to access the Signature’s turbocharged engine but at a much lower price. 

The Carbon Edition Turbo — the Carbon Edition equipped with that 227-hp turbo-four — costs just over $32,000, Edmunds reports. This means buyers who opt for this trim can drive a 2021 Mazda CX-5 that’s as sporty as the Signature but is significantly more affordable.

So just because more consumers buy the Grand Touring trim doesn’t mean it’s the best.


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