Review - Toyota RAV4 vs Mazda CX-5

By Alexi Falson on 09 Aug 2022
image for Review - Toyota RAV4 vs Mazda CX-5 The Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 have been fierce competitors within the midsize family SUV segment for a long time now- which begs the question: which is best?

Australia’s midsize SUV market is burgeoning with options from almost every manufacturer, which is a great thing when you consider how customers benefit from the competition.

To find out which is the best option for you and your family, let’s put the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 head-to-head in a comparison of key areas like price, features, practicality, safety, fuel economy and variety for buyers.

In the interest of keeping things simple, we’re going to cover the features of both entry-level variants to see just how much equipment Toyota and Mazda are willing to offer up in their base models.

How Much Do They Cost?

The Toyota RAV4 range kicks off from $34,400 for the entry-level RAV4 GX variant, and stretches out to $52,700 for the range-topping Edge AWD Hybrid.

The RAV4 range is offered in five major variants, with hybrid engines available across the range, the cheapest of which, the GX 2WD Hybrid is priced at $36,900.

The Mazda CX-5 range kicks off slightly cheaper than its rival, with list prices for the entry-level CX-5 Maxx 2.0L FWD standing at $32,490, which stretch out to $53,880 for the flagship CX-5 Akera 2.2d AWD.

The current CX-5 range features no hybrid engine option.

Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change, and do not include on-road costs.

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Toyota RAV4 - GX (2WD) Specifications

Model RAV4
Series MXAA52R
Variant GX (2WD)
Drive FWD
Engine DIRFI
Engine capacity 1987
Engine configuration DUAL OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6600 / 4400
Cylinders 4
Torque 203
KW 127
Fuel tank size 55.0
Fuel usage specs 6.0 / 0.0
CO2 137
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Toyota RAV4 car page.

Mazda CX-5 - MAXX (FWD) Specifications

Model CX-5
Series CX5L
Variant MAXX (FWD)
Transmission 6 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive FWD
Engine DIRFI
Engine capacity 1997
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 6000 / 4000
Cylinders 4
Torque 200
KW 115
Fuel tank size 56.0
Fuel usage specs 6.9 / 0.0
CO2 161
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Mazda CX-5 car page.

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Toyota RAV4 GX Features

  • 17-inch alloys 

  • Parabolic LED headlights 

  • Adaptive cruise control 

  • Reversing camera 

  • Front & rear parking sensors 

  • Cloth upholstery 

  • Faux leather steering wheel 

  • LED ambient lighting 

  • 5 x USB ports 

  • 4.2-inch driver display 

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation

  • DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

  • Blind-spot monitoring 

  • AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection

  • Rear cross-traffic alerts 

  • Lane departure warnings  

Toyota RAV4 GX Colours

The RAV4 GX comes with Glacier White as a no-cost colour finish, while Graphite, Atomic Rush, Eclipse Black, Saturn Blue, Silver Sky & Mineral Blue remain $675 optional extras.

Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport Features

  • 17-inch alloys 

  • Automatic LED headlights 

  • Adaptive cruise control 

  • Cloth upholstery

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel & gear lever 

  • Rear-view camera with rear parking sensors 

  • 7.0-inch driver’s display 

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system

  • DAB+, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto 

  • Push-button start 

  • Rear parking sensors 

  • Rear cross-traffic alerts

  • Forward & reverse AEB with pedestrian detection 

  • Blind-spot monitoring 

  • Lane departure warnings

Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport Colours

The Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport is available in Snowflake White, Sonic Silver, Titanium Flash, Eternal Blue, Deep Crystal Blue and Jet Black as no-cost colour finishes, while Machine Grey, Polymetal Grey and Soul Red Crystal remain $695 optional extras.

Is it Comfortable to Drive?

The Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 are closely matched when it comes to user-friendly driving comfort, while one offers a much more engaging option.

The Toyota RAV4 comes powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol producing 127kW of power and 203Nm of torque, which sends power to the front wheels via a CVT automatic. 

The powertrain kicks up a healthy amount of power to the front wheels, while the CVT automatic eliminates any jerkiness between shifts thanks to the clever seamless power delivery.

The Mazda CX-5 Maxx, on the other hand, is slightly down on power with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 115kW of power and 200Nm of torque, which powers the front wheels via a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

On the road, the six-speed automatic offers quick and seamless shifts, and manages to extract all the power on offer from the engine in spite of the lower output.

On that note, while it might be down on power, the CX-5’s steering wheel offers sharper steering with a healthy amount of feedback for the driver and results in a far more engaging driving dynamic and gives the CX-5 a nice sense of personality.

From here on out, it’s incredibly difficult to separate the RAV4 and CX-5 on a mix of town and highway driving.

Both receive a suspension package that is perfect for Australian roads and make the packages perfectly comfortable on everything from slick city streets, rough country B-roads and long highway drives come holiday time.

The companies have also done a great job in making their midsize SUVs extremely approachable to new or less confident drivers, with a heap of power assistance through the steering wheel for low-speed turns and parking that make for perfect commuters in the city.

While the base models come with front-wheel drive as standard, you can step higher up into each range to receive an all-wheel drive system that translates to added stability at speed, light off-roading and some added confidence while towing.

To sum up, it’s neck-and-neck in terms of the driving experience, but the entry-level Mazda CX-5 Maxx offers a more engaging driving experience in spite of being down on power, while remaining an incredibly comfortable daily driver.

Are They Practical and Spacious?

The CX-5 and RAV4 are the two heavy-hitters of the family-friendly midsize SUV segment, which means space and practicality are a top concern for designers at both companies.

On the styling front, the CX-5 Maxx comes with a well-appointed and sleek cabin for an entry-level model, while the RAV4 has been updated in recent months and receives some modern touches.

Styling is a subjective matter, though, so we’ll let you be the judge when it comes to interior styling.

In both the RAV4 and CX-5, though, you’ll find a heap of headroom for tall drivers in the front of the cabin, and a nicely adjustable driving position for all shapes and sizes to get comfortable. The Mazda offers a slightly sporty driving position with a leather-wrapped wheel, while the RAV4 takes a more laid-back approach.

Each offers a fairly wide cabin, which is utilised in both by a decent-sized central tunnel that houses a pair of cup holders, storage tray behind the gear lever with additional storage in the door bins either side.

The RAV4’s storage tray is slightly larger than the CX-5’s, while there’s more storage volume inside the folding armrest, too.

Move to the rear of the cabin and you’ll find a bench seat with a pair of ISOFIX anchors in both, however, the Toyota RAV4 pulls ahead in terms of rear occupant legroom. Both are similarly matched when it comes to headroom for rear passengers, but there’s slightly more space to stretch out in the back of the RAV4.

Finally, boot space for the RAV4 and CX-5 stands at 580L and 438L respectively, making the RAV4 the better pick for buyers looking for a family-friendly big boot and more space for rear passengers.

Which is Safer?

The Toyota RAV4 has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five-star safety rating, scoring 93 per cent for adult protection, 89 per cent for child protection, 85 per cent for pedestrian detection and 83 per cent for its safety assist technologies.

The entry-level RAV4 comes with autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitoring, a rear-view camera with front & rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and curtain airbags in the cabin.

The Mazda CX-5 also wears a five-star ANCAP rating, and has a better adult protection score of 95 per cent, while child protection is rated at 80 per cent, pedestrian protection stands at 78 per cent and safety assist scores drop to 59 per cent.

The CX-5 Maxx comes fitted with AEB braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warnings, rear cross-traffic alerts, a rear view camera with rear-mounted parking sensors and curtain airbags.

As a result, the entry-level RAV4 and CX-5 are generously equipped and difficult to separate in terms of safety, although the addition of front and rear parking sensors in the RAV4 are a nice touch for the cheapest variant.

Which is More Fuel Efficient?

Once again, the cheapest variants of the CX-5 and RAV4 are closely matched in terms of fuel economy, however, the Toyota just manages to take the win.

The CX-5 Maxx returns combined cycle figures of 6.9L per 100km, while the entry-level RAV4 improves upon this with a combined cycle figure of 6.5L per 100km.

Keep in mind that Toyota offers the RAV4 range with a hybrid engine option that drops fuel economy to an impressive 4.7L per 100km, while this is a noticeable absence for the CX-5 range.

What are the Servicing Intervals?

The Toyota RAV4 GX’s service intervals are rated at 12-months/15,000km, while the CX-5 Maxx requires a service every 12-months or 10,000km.

This means that owners can expect to service their CX-5 on a slightly more regular basis, while both vehicles receive five-years of capped-price servicing.

The Verdict: Toyota RAV4 GX vs Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport

Before we crown our winner, let’s get one thing clear: both the RAV4 and CX-5 are exceptional vehicles for you and your family, and the differences we’re judging here are incredibly small and admittedly subjective.

The CX-5, undercuts the RAV4 on price and offers a far more engaging driving experience in a stylish and practical cabin in its own right, making for a great option within the midsize SUV segment.

When you take things like interior space, fuel economy, and safety into account, though, the RAV4 begins to shine as the better option for midsize SUV buyers, especially if you’re willing to step a little higher into the range for the RAV4 hybrid.

As a result, the entry-level Toyota RAV4 takes out our overall win as the better pick for budget-conscious buyers in the family-friendly SUV segment, though both are well-deserving of a spot atop your shortlist.

On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925.

Toyota RAV4 & Mazda CX-5 Competition

Toyota RAV4 & Mazda CX-5

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Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

Have any questions? Call us on 1300 719 925

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