Compact Crossovers From Japan: 2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4 - Tracy Mazda

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Compact Crossovers From Japan: 2021 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4

Cars are out crossovers are in. Crossover SUVs are becoming America’s favorite, and the compact crossover segment grows ever more crowded. Two popular models that both come from Japan are the 2021 Mazda CX-5 and the 2021 Toyota RAV4. Both are versatile, high-tech SUVs with plenty of safety features and premium options. But they offer a few key differences that can be a big deal depending on your driving needs, wants and budget.


The Toyota RAV4 is known for its versatility and reliability, but the Mazda CX-5 is renowned for its fun-to-drive nature and peppy acceleration. Often, crossovers are a bit on the clunky side when it comes down to driving them. Mazda creates vehicles that are athletic and don’t compromise on performance. Enjoy smooth handling, sharp cornering and a comfortable ride in the new Mazda CX-5.

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 comes with a standard 2.5L engine with 187 horsepower or the SKYACTIV®-G 2.5 Turbo engine that pumps out up to 250-hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The RAV4 only has one engine option, a 203-hp 2.5L four-cylinder. Front-wheel drive is standard in both SUVs, with AWD available. The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models get AWD standard. 

For serious off-roaders, the RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road offer standard AWD, among other more rugged features and accents. The Mazda CX-5 Carbon Edition features an exclusive Polymetal Gray exterior with a signature red leather interior and is available with or without the turbocharged engine.

Interior Comfort

The driver-centric cabin of the 2021 Mazda CX-5 is outfitted with premium materials, even at the base trim level. The sleek, clean lines are complemented by thoughtful details like a floor-hinged accelerator pedal and an expertly crafted steering wheel. Upgrade to a Mazda CX-5 Signature and enjoy real wood trim, Nappa leather, and heated and cooled front seats. The 2021 RAV4 features a modern design but with a more mainstream, rugged feel. You have to upgrade to the highest trims to get more high-quality materials.

The new RAV4 does boast more interior space than the Mazda CX-5, so if you travel with a lot of gear or regularly have five people in the car, you may fare better with the Toyota. But the new Mazda CX-5 still seats up to five adults comfortably, with plenty of room for your luggage.


New for the 2021 model year, the Mazda CX-5 gets a larger touchscreen with the latest Mazda infotainment system, including standard Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, Wi-Fi hotspot, two USB ports, and HD radio with 4-speaker audio. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a smaller 7-inch screen with a 6-speaker audio system standard; an 8-inch screen is available. Go up one trim to the 2021 Mazda CX-5 Touring to get six speakers and heated front seats. 

At the higher trim level, both the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 offer a panoramic moonroof, premium audio (Bose® in Mazda, JBL® in Toyota), remote entry and other niceties. Mazda offers genuine leather and leather trim, while Toyota does not. However, if you are vegan or more eco-conscious, synthetic leather may be the way to go. 


The 2021 Mazda CX-5 received a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, where the 2021 Toyota RAV4 received the lesser Top Safety Pick. Both compact crossovers feature plenty of standard safety features, including automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and more. Mazda adds standard blind-spot monitoring while Toyota offers an available Bird’s Eye View camera system.

By the Numbers

Sometimes the easiest way to compare two models is to put them side by side:

2021 Mazda CX-5 2021 Toyota RAV4
Towing: 2,000 lbs 1,500 lbs
IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick+ Top Safety Pick
MPG: 31 highway/25 city* 35 highway/28 city*
Touchscreen: 10.25-inches 7-inches
Total Cargo: 59.6 cubic feet 69.8 cubic feet
Warranty: 3-Year/60K 3-Year/60K
Starting Price: $25,270 $26,050
Top-Tier Price: $37,405 $35,980

The 2021 Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 are similar in size and function but differ in style, performance, spaciousness and features. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 will give you more room inside with comfy seating and slightly better fuel economy. The Mazda CX-5 boasts a sleek look, more standard premium features, and a truly enjoyable drive.

Explore the new 2021 Mazda CX-5 at Tracy Mazda in Tracy, California. Our team of Mazda enthusiasts are here to help you compare the different features, engine options and trim levels so that you get the new Mazda that checks all the boxes. Stop by Tracy Mazda in Tracy, CA, to test drive a new Mazda CX-5. Or visit our highly rated official Mazda service department to keep your Mazda running great for years to come. Shop for a new or used Mazda CX-5 at Tracy Mazda online or swing by our Mazda dealership in Tracy, California, to see and feel Mazda up close.

*EPA-estimated 25 city/31 highway mpg for 2021 Mazda CX-5 Sport FWD. EPA-estimated 27 city/35 mpg for 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE FWD and Limited FWD. Actual results will vary.