The Toyota RAV4 Can’t Catch the 2021 Mazda CX-5

Check out the 2021 Mazda CX-5 as it does a victory lap around the 2021 Toyota RAV4. While the Toyota RAV4 is the most popular SUV, the Mazda CX-5 is serving up some serious competition. It just outranked the RAV4 on the list of best compact SUVs. 

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 outranks the Toyota RAV4 

Red 2022 Mazda CX-5 driving on a curvy road
2022 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is the best compact SUV you can buy. It came in first place on their list. Meanwhile, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 landed in fourth place. The Honda CR-V and Volkswagen Tiguan both ranked ahead of it. 

So, what’s the reasoning behind this upset? As the most popular SUV, the Toyota RAV4 should have taken the crown, right? Well, it has unique pros and cons to consider against the Mazda CX-5 and other competitors. 

The Mazda CX-5 vs. the Toyota RAV4 

You can get started in a 2021 Mazda CX-5 for about $25,370. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 starts at about $26,350. That’s only about a $1,000 difference. These prices are listed before the destination fees, and dealership markups have been added. 

With the Mazda CX-5, you get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 184 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. You can upgrade to the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine for 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The CX-5 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.7 seconds with the standard engine and 6.6 seconds with the turbo. 

The Toyota RAV4 comes with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The RAV4 Hybrid adds two electric motors to the mix, generating 219 hp. Also, the RAV4 Prime pumps out 302 hp. The RAV4 reaches 60 mph in about 9.1 seconds. 

When properly equipped, the CX-5 can tow up to 2,000 lbs, and the RAV4 can tow up to 3,500 lbs. Both SUVs offer all-wheel drive. But the RAV4 TRD Pro model comes with off-roading upgrades, while Mazda fans should consider the CX-50 for off-roading. 

Outside of the woods, the Mazda CX-5 has significant advantages with a peppier acceleration, smoother ride, more responsive handling, and a quieter interior. But the RAV4 Hybrid and Prime has faster acceleration than the gas-powered model. 

Does the CX-5 or RAV4 have better features? 

Silver Sky Metallic 2022 Toyota RAV4 driving on a street
Silver Sky Metallic 2022 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

The Mazda CX-5 includes 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 59.6 cubes total. With the 2021 Toyota RAV4, you get 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 69.8 cubes total. 

A 7.0-inch touchscreen is standard in the RAV4, but you can upgrade to an 8.0-inch unit. The CX-5 comes with a standard 10.3-inch infotainment system, but it’s not a touchscreen. The system is controlled with a rotary controller. 

Both SUVs come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-5 has an available head-up display, while the RAV4 has an optional wireless phone charger. Also, the RAV4 looks a little dated in comparison. 

Standard safety features for both SUVs include automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. 

While the RAV4 offers more space and a more capable off-roading trim, the Mazda CX-5 provides a sportier driving experience and an enhanced luxurious feel. We recommend taking both for a spin.

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