Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Is the Smarter Choice Over This Cheaper Japanese Rival

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 and 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross don’t seem like natural rivals. Both are listed as compact SUVs, but one is considered a top competitor in the segment while the other bargain bin option.

However, money talks when it comes to the automotive industry. A significant subsection of shoppers will entertain the idea of buying a lesser product to save thousands of dollars.

The CX-5 is undoubtedly the more capable model, but does the Eclipse Cross present better value? That depends on your biggest priorities.

Here, we’ll break down the advantages of each model. That way, you can better determine which compact SUV will be better for you while keeping the long game in mind.

What you’ll love about the refined 2021 Mazda CX-5

A red 2021 Mazda CX-5 driving down a highway road
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 displaying its athleticism | Photo via Mazda

It’s no surprise that industry experts love Mazda’s compact SUV. The U.S. News & World Report gave the 2021 CX-5 an 8.6 vehicle score, making it the second-best vehicle in its class. Meanwhile, the 2020 Eclipse Cross finished second to last, with a 6.3 rating.

Critics love the 2021 Mazda CX-5’s sporty handling and upscale cabin. It comes standard with a lively 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Plus, its available 250-hp* 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will thrill just about any driver. Meanwhile, Mazda offers Carbon Fiber editions of the CX-5 for those searching for extra curb appeal.

Techies will also feel more at home inside the CX-5’s cabin. It comes standard with a 10.25-inch infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Plus, it comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot and two USB ports.

The 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross isn’t as quite advanced. Its touchscreen is only seven inches, and its base model has just a single USB port. Meanwhile, you’ll have to pay extra for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

And while you’ll enjoy these aspects during your daily commute, the CX-5 has practical advantages you shouldn’t ignore.

Mazda manufacturers incredibly safe vehicles, and the CX-5 isn’t an exception. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick+, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross didn’t receive any IIHS honor.

The CX-5 is loaded with standard driver-assistance technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and more. Comparatively, Mitsubishi only equips entry-level Eclipse Cross models with just a rearview camera.

*According to Mazda, 250 hp is achieved using 93-octane premium fuel. The turbo engine only makes 227 hp with regular 87-octane regular fuel.

What you’ll love about the wallet-friendly 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

A white 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross driving down a city road
The 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in action | Photo via Mitsubishi

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The Eclipse Cross’ major draw isn’t a shocker; it’s the vehicle’s starting price. At an MSRP of just $22,995, the 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is by far one of the most affordable new compact SUVs on the market. Meanwhile, those who want to upgrade to a 2021 Mazda CX-5 ($25,270 MSRP) should expect to pay at least $2,275 more.

Additionally, 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross owners may experience more peace of mind. This model comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty. In comparison, Mazda only offers a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty.

But is the Eclipse Cross more than just a cheap compact SUV? Well, it won’t keep up with the CX-5, but that doesn’t mean the Eclipse Cross doesn’t have a few high points.

The Eclipse Cross can’t match the 2021 Mazda CX-5’s power. However, it closes the gap in other ways, so you won’t be left in the dust. Its 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 184 lb-ft of torque, giving the compact SUV decent acceleration. 

Plus, the base 2021 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross ES achieves an EPA-estimated 27 MPG city/highway combined – only one fewer MPG than the most efficient CX-5 models. Unfortunately, the Eclipse Cross’ higher trim levels aren’t as fuel-efficient.

Which compact SUV has broader mass appeal?

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The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is the better compact SUV, and it delivers incredible value compared to Mitsubishi’s product. The CX-5 is loaded with features that are either better than or unavailable on the 2020 Eclipse Cross.

Those who put significant weight behind safety will feel more comfortable behind the wheel of the CX-5. In fact, 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross shoppers would have to spend considerable money to get a model that has even close to as many safety features. And it’d still be an inferior product.

In the end, it’s wiser to spend a little extra to get a whole lot more in return by choosing the 2021 Mazda CX-5 over the Eclipse Cross.