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

The Mazda CX-5 and the Honda CR-V are both leaders in their class. Each of these two-row compact SUVs readily achieves its goal of being a versatile and high quality family crossover. But how do they compare? The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is noted for its agility, while the 2021 Honda CR-V earns accolades for utility.

Each family is different. Every driver has different priorities. What compact SUV features inspire some families to choose a new CR-V and others to spring for a new CX-5?

U.S. News and World Report’s No. 1 compact SUV in 2021

For the 2021 model year, the new CR-V is at the top of its class. According to U.S. News and World Report, no other compact SUV ticks as many boxes as the 2021 Honda CR-V. This SUV shows starting a MSRP between $25,350 – $35,150.

A grey 2021 Honda CR-V driving down a road
The 2021 Honda CR-V in action | Photo via Honda

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“it’s about as close to the total package as you can find in this segment.”

U.S. News and World Report

It’s not gorgeous and it’s not super swift, but the new CR-V gets its job done and then some. With over 75 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity, it holds by far the most gear out of any of its competitors. It also earned an above-average 3.5 out of 5 for reliability from J.D. Power.

While it’s certainly not striving to offer luscious luxury or premium style, the 2021 Honda CR-V offers plenty of compact SUV features that take it to the top of its class. For instance, U.S. News commends this two-row family crossover for its spacious and high quality cabin. Critics across the board rave about its massive cargo capacity. Plus, this utilitarian city driver gets “great fuel economy for the class.”

2021 Honda CR-V Touring
2021 Honda CR-V | Honda

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The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is a close second

U.S. News and World Report gave the No. 2 compact SUV title to the 2021 Mazda CX-5. What this two-row family crossover lacks in cargo space it makes up for in top trim luxury appointments and driving dynamics. In fact, US new might have named it second, but it tops the list over at Car and Driver with a 10 out of 10 score.

A metallic red 2021 Mazda CX-5 is parked next to a gray concrete building
2021 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda North American Operations

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“It’s one of the most fun-to-drive entrants in the class, a designation resulting mostly from its agile handling.”

U.S. News and World Report

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 is without a doubt one of the best compact SUVs on the market. US Ness loves it for its “sporty handling” and “terrific safety score.” The new CX-5 is one of the models helping the Mazda brand rise to the top. While it certainly lacks cargo space, it’s a joy to drive. Plus, higher trim levels offer a ton of luxury for the price point.

In addition, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 offers a strong alternative powertrain option. If the standard equipment doesn’t quite suit your fancy, upgrade to a turbocharged 4-cylinder. This engine option for the new CX-5 is rated for 227 horsepower with regular gasoline and 250 with premium fuel, according to U.S. News.

Mazda gives the 2021 CX-5 a noticeable refresh.
2021 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

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Elegance and agility vs. space and utility

Ultimately, the buyer’s choice will come down to preference. Both of these two-row compact SUVs rank high. It will all depends on whether you value “elegance and agility” over “space and utility” or vice versa. More utilitarian shoppers will go for the 2021 Honda CR-V while the more fashion conscious might instead choose the 2021 Mazda CX-5.