Crossover & Midsize

The RAV4 Zooms Past the CX-5

Based on stellar reviews from critics, it’s easy to consider the 2020 Mazda CX-5 as the best crossover SUV of the year. The CX-5 drives like a luxury model, and it’s pretty stylish too. But even with these charms, the CX-5 is still far behind prominent rivals, especially the 2020 Toyota RAV4

Comparing the 2020 RAV4 and 2020 CX-5 by the numbers 

2019 Toyota RAV4 is on display during the New York Autoshow
The Toyota RAV4 | Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On many respected critics’ lists, the 2020 CX-5 ranks as the best compact SUV. Consumer Reports considers it as its #1 pick, and so does Car and Driver. Both CR and Car and Driver have praised the CX-5 for its refined driving experience. Even so, the numbers indicate that consumers don’t necessarily agree with these rankings.

By the end of Q3, Toyota sold 119,214 RAV4 sales units. During the same period, Mazda sold 39,205 CX-5 sales units according to data from  GoodCarBadCar.That said, the ongoing pandemic has negatively impacted automotive sales in general.

A Mazda CX-5 on display at an auto show
A Mazda CX-5 on display | Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

RAV4 sales are down by 3.9 percent, and CX-5 sales are down by 0.3 percent. While the CX-5’s decline compared to last year isn’t as bad as the RAV4’s, it’s clear that Toyota still has a massive advantage over Mazda in this space. So what is it that the RAV4 has that the CX-5 doesn’t?

What the RAV4 does better than the rest 

The Rav4 is Toyota's family crossover, with a favorable safety rating, an efficient engine, and a reasonable price, it is a major seller for the brand.
Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road | Toyota

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Simply put, what continues to propel the RAV4 past rivals like the CX-5 is its ability to balance simplicity and versatility. The RAV4 gets its power from a 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This Toyota is recognized for its comfortable ride quality and fuel efficiency. The only weakness the RAV4 has here is that its engine gets noisy at higher speeds. 

A blue 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime facing away while parked in the middle of a city.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime on display | Photo via Toyota

Whether you want a luxury-focused RAV4 or an off-road-ready one, there’s a RAV4 trim level for that. For a quieter and more efficient RAV4 experience, the hybridized version is worth checking out. Additionally, Toyota has introduced the RAV4 Prime, which is a plug-in hybrid model

On top of its variety, the RAV4 is loaded with tech. Standard infotainment features on the RAV4 include a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. It also comes with a long list of safety features, including forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, and lane-keep assist. Base models start at $25,950.

Reasons to go with the CX-5 

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 on display in the middle of a road
The 2020 Mazda CX-5 in action | Photo via Mazda

RELATED: The Mazda CX-5 Thinks Grey Is the New Black

A new 2020 CX-5 begins at $25,190. Even though the CX-5 isn’t as popular with buyers, it still does a few things well. As we mentioned earlier, this Mazda is an ideal choice for drivers who want something upscale that’s still affordable. The CX-5 comes with a satisfying 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder and six-speed automatic. There’s a turbocharged version of the base engine that produces 227-hp. You may also want to consider the available diesel option too.

Like the RAV4, the CX-5 seats up to five people and is available with upscale amenities. The CX-5 also offers many advanced safety features as the RAV4 does. However, you have to upgrade to get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.