You Aren’t Crazy If You Want the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Over the Lexus NX

The Lexus NX is one of the most popular luxury compact SUVs, and it’s easy to see why. For 2021, the NX is already impressing reviewers with its upscale amenities and predicted reliability. While there are many things to like about this Lex, you aren’t crazy if you want to get a non-luxury car like the 2021 Mazda CX-5 instead. 

Lexus NX vs. Mazda CX-5 performance 

2021 Mazda CX-5 parked outside of a store
2021 Mazda CX-5 | Mazda

Both the NX and CX-5 return for 2021 mostly unchanged. We recognize the CX-5 for its sporty handling while the NX earns praise for its gentle demeanor. Deciding between the NX and the CX-5 is just a classic case of determining whether you should buy a fully-loaded non-luxury car or going with a base-trim luxury model.  

The base CX-5 provides adequate power. But since we’re talking luxury, we’re going to focus on the CX-5’s top-of-the-line option, the Signature trim. Signature CX-5 models have a turbocharged, 250-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. This turbo-four provides the liveliest experience in the CX-5. And on the Signature model, it’s standard with all-wheel-drive. 

A red Lexus NX on the track.
2021 Lexus NX | Lexus

With the NX, you get a turbocharged, 235-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. It’s standard with FWD; AWD is available. The base NX is comfortable, peaceful, and quick, But it’s not exactly sporty. Separately, there’s the NX 300 F Sport, which has an adaptive suspension. There’s also a hybridized NX. 

Comparing car cabins 

The Lexus NX interior in Roja Red.
Lexus NX interior | Lexus

RELATED: 2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. CX-9 Do You Really Need the Extra Space?

Both the NX and CX-5 are five seaters. The two provide ample space for passengers, but both models are below-average for cargo space, as U.S. News highlights. The NX has 54.6 cubic feet of total cargo space with the back-row folded; the CX-5 has 59.6 cubic feet in total. 

Base NX models have faux leather upholstery and the upscale trimmings you would expect from a luxury car. Furthermore, the NX mostly impresses with its in-car tech. Standard infotainment features for the NX include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a wifi hotspot. However, the main downside is that the NX’s 8-inch display screen isn’t the most user friendly. Regarding advanced safety equipment, the NX comes with gadgets, including blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and forward-collision warning. 

The inside of the 2021 CX-5 offers a bold color scheme.
2021 Mazda CX-5 interior | Mazda

The Signature CX-5 trims present many of the same features that NX does, plus a few more. For 2021, all CX-5 models come with an easy-to-operate 10.25-inch touchscreen plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The CX-5 doesn’t come with a wifi hotspot, but it does have premium features, including a Bose sound system and navigation system. It also has advanced safety features such as a surround-view camera. What you’ll also really like is that the Signature trim is standard with Nappa leather trim. 

So, would you get the Lexus NX or the Mazda CX-5?

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An entry-level 2021 NX begins at $37,510 while the 2021 CX-5 Signature is $37,405. The NX has a strong record of reliability and many charms. But as you can tell, the CX-5 can give you a few more frills at this price point.