Top SUVs, Track Tested: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 Who Wins?

Top SUVs, Track Tested: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 Who Wins?

Small crossover SUVs have been wildly popular,
outselling the less versatile sedans for quite some time. JOSH SADLIER: Mark and I brought
our two current favorites in this segment,
and Will over here brought the RAV4, the
current top seller. WILL KAUFMAN: We’re going to
take a closer look at each of these vehicles to let you
know what their strengths and weaknesses are. We’ve put hundreds of miles
on each of these movies on the road, but we thought
we’d spare you 12 minutes of us going to buy groceries. Instead, we took our three red
people movers to our test track where we could make
those disclaimers at the bottom of
every ad about closed roads and professional
drivers come alive. You may never drive your
compact crossover like this, but at least you can rest
easy knowing someone has. JOSH SADLIER: We’ve got the
latest Honda CR-V here with the 1.5-liter turbo charged four
cylinder engine that you get on almost every version
you’ll find at a dealer lot. There’s the 2.4 that
comes in the base LX. I don’t know if I’ve ever
seen one of those on the road. It doesn’t really seem like
something people are going to be interested in because
you want the turbo motor, it gets better fuel
economy and more power. How are you guys
enjoying it so far? WILL KAUFMAN: This
back seat is cavernous. There’s a lot of room for
me to flop around back here. JOSH SADLIER: I’ve been
watching that, yeah. WILL KAUFMAN: But– I
mean, it’s huge back here. There’s just a ton
of room in this car. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah,
it is very spacious. This is effectively
a mid-sized SUV I would say in
terms of usability. MARK TAKAHASHI: I’m not getting
a sense of that space, though. I feel like the headliner and
the windshields are actually a little close to me. [ENGINE REVVING] WILL KAUFMAN:
That’s interesting. Oof. Oh wow, there’s that noise. Ah, it just sounds
like the engine wants to leap out of the engine bay. [LAUGHTER] The CVT just does not do it any
favors in the sound department. MARK TAKAHASHI: In
its defense, though, no one in their right mind
is going to be driving a CR-V this– JOSH SADLIER: Well, MARK TAKAHASHI: –hard. JOSH SADLIER: That’s fair. WILL KAUFMAN: And it
does provide a good boost and good fuel economy. I mean– JOSH SADLIER: It does. WILL KAUFMAN: With
the gas motor– JOSH SADLIER: Well,
not right now. WILL KAUFMAN: But
with a gas motor, this is the most
efficient of the three if you don’t want the hybrid. JOSH SADLIER: Now this
is the front wheel drive one, which means we’re
going to be getting under ideal circumstances, 34
MPG highway, which is easily the best of any of
these competitors. The others are I think
31 and 30 at the top end. So the fuel economy is
definitely a strong suit, at least according to the EPA. Now in the real world, if you’re
in a boost like I’ve been here, your results may vary. MARK TAKAHASHI: Here’s
the thing, though. It’s making a lot of tire noise,
but it doesn’t feel sloppy. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, I
wouldn’t call it sloppy. I mean, it clearly does not
have much tire for this purpose, but in the real world,
having driven this around, I didn’t feel like it needed
more tire like on a country road or something. So I think this is an extreme
situation we’re in right now, but I do like the
way it responds. The steering,
there’s no slop in it and it goes where you point it. The thing for me about this
car is the transmission. I think if people are
not used to a CVT, this can be kind of a rude
awakening in that it just doesn’t always respond
as promptly or as predictively as you
might expect if you’re used to driving like a
traditional automatic transmission. MARK TAKAHASHI: And they don’t
offer any kind of automatic, do they? JOSH SADLIER: CVTs beauties
across the board, yeah. Even with the 2.4,
it’s still CVT. That’s the one thing, I think if
people take a test drive and– again, transmission’s fine,
what’s he talking about? Cool, and then you’ll probably
like the rest of the car. For me it’s a deal breaker. MARK TAKAHASHI: Wow, all right. WILL KAUFMAN: See, I didn’t– in normal driving,
I haven’t felt that way about this vehicle,
because of the CVT, when you’re just, you know,
cruising in traffic, when you’re driving on
the freeway, when you’re driving around
town, the response that I expect from
a car, the CVT isn’t falling short of that. MARK TAKAHASHI:
It’s not until you start getting onto a highway,
you know, on an on-ramp or something and you really
want to get up to speed, does it feel like it’s
at a disadvantage? JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, and the
engine gets really frantic. MARK TAKAHASHI: I think this
is better suited to someone who has one or two kids. It’s comfortable. It just kind of
checks all the boxes. JOSH SADLIER: There’s
still some road noise there I noticed on a longer
drive over the weekend. WILL KAUFMAN: It does seem
like for this vehicle, they looked at the old
RAV4 and they said, OK, it’s going to be just
better in every measure. Not necessarily
tremendously better, but it’s going to be better. It’s also the only one that has
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is the 2018 RAV4,
and it’s the RAV4 that really started the compact
crossover craze way back when. And it’s still the bestselling
of any compact crossover. In fact, it’s the
bestselling vehicle in the US next to the pickup trucks that
everybody loves to buy so much. But I think part of
the appeal of this is that there’s nothing
complicated about it. There’s no other
reason you buy it, you don’t have to think, oh, I
want the one that handles well. You just think, I
want the one that will carry all of
my people and stuff and I don’t want
to worry about it. MARK TAKAHASHI:
It’s not something that I don’t think
you really aspire to? There’s nothing that kind of
gets me excited about this car. It’s the safe choice. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah. There’s actually decent
bolstering in these seats. A little more than I expected. Thanks for helping me to
feel that with that turn. WILL KAUFMAN: I mean, it is–
it’s just a perfectly fine place to spend time. I mean, I agree, there’s
nothing that stands out here, but that’s sort of part
of the point of this car, is it just does what it
does without any pretension to anything else, and you
can get a hybrid power train so you get better fuel
economy than any of the others if that’s what
you’re looking for. It’s also not a very
thrilling engine. The transmission will,
even though it’s only a six-speed transmission,
it will sort of jump around if you’re in normal
mode and you start asking for a little
bit of acceleration. JOSH SADLIER: There’s
something kind of honest, though, about this
power train that I’m drawn to. WILL KAUFMAN: Yeah, it’s
basically the same power train as the Mazda. MARK TAKAHASHI: Even to
be competitive nowadays, you have to overdeliver
on a number of fronts– refinement and comfort
and performance. Everything has now
gotten to the point where everybody is expecting more. This doesn’t really
overdeliver, it’s adequate in almost every way. JOSH SADLIER: It’s an
aging product that’s kind of hanging in
there, but you’re right, it’s not really
going the extra mile. WILL KAUFMAN: The ride
and handling isn’t bad. It is a little rough around
the road than that CX-5, you definitely feel the
bumps a little bit more. I mean, it’s not sloppy
around these turns. MARK TAKAHASHI: It was that
little boaty coming out of that last turn, though. I felt a little bit
of residual bounces as you set it into the turn. JOSH SADLIER: Yeah, you wouldn’t
call this the driver’s choice. MARK TAKAHASHI: No, no. JOSH SADLIER: But
at the same time, I feel like if someone told me,
hey, I just bought a 2018 RAV4, it would be hard to
argue against that. MARK TAKAHASHI: Oh no, no, no. JOSH SADLIER: Well maybe– MARK TAKAHASHI: He would say,
why didn’t you get the 2019 and just wait nine months? JOSH SADLIER: Well,
it’s an all-new model, you want to give it a year
or two to sort things out. MARK TAKAHASHI: Do ya? WILL KAUFMAN: The
other thing is, you’ll be able to get a really
good deal on one of these– when it’s on dealer
lots and a few months when the new one’s out. JOSH SADLIER: That’s
a great point. WILL KAUFMAN: This is
going to get cheaper. You don’t always see
sales on Toyotas. MARK TAKAHASHI: Welcome to
the best small crossover you can buy today, the Mazda CX-5. It’s a little sporty, it’s
a little more reactive and responsive. Sure it’s an SUV,
it’s a little tippy, but there’s only so much you
can do in regards to physics, right? WILL KAUFMAN: One of the things
that impresses me in this car is the body roll is
really well-controlled. JOSH SADLIER: You should
try sitting in the middle back here, but I
take your point. MARK TAKAHASHI:
Well, in addition to better driving
dynamics, I think it’s also the best-looking in the bunch. JOSH SADLIER: I would
agree with that. MARK TAKAHASHI: I mean,
it’s better to look good than feel good,
but this does both. JOSH SADLIER: If you look
around at the competition, there’s not really another
crossover at this price point that actually makes
a style statement. Not one that I can
think of, at least. MARK TAKAHASHI: It’s
not over-styled either. I mean, it just– like the overall shape
is really pleasing. JOSH SADLIER: Yep. WILL KAUFMAN: It’s
also definitely the nicest interior of any of
the ones we have here today. MARK TAKAHASHI: Some
of these materials we wouldn’t have expected to
see except for maybe a luxury car last generation. JOSH SADLIER: Yep. MARK TAKAHASHI: And it’s
got this great infotainment controller here that’s
kind of the same as you’d expect from
BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. And I love that. It’s just
well-managed, you know? It’s easy to drive,
it’s fun to drive. WILL KAUFMAN: It
raises the question, why do you buy a compact SUV? It is because it handles nicely? MARK TAKAHASHI: You know,
there are certain people left in the world who
appreciate cars that handle well and are sporty. WILL KAUFMAN: But
if you’re buying one of these, what you need
is practicality, right? What you need is to be able
to fit stuff and people and just carry things around. I mean, what are the
tricks of this car other than it’s nice to put around
a turn, which, let’s face it, most of the only
chance you get to do that is a freeway on-ramp. Not every road is
our test track. MARK TAKAHASHI: Well,
you don’t think that this has enough cargo space? WILL KAUFMAN: You’ve
got two kids, especially if they’re small,
you’ve got two strollers you gotta throw in the trunk. That’s a lot of
space right there. This is definitely going to
be the worst at moving stuff. MARK TAKAHASHI: Worst? WILL KAUFMAN: There’s no other
power train option in this car. This is the only
one here today– MARK TAKAHASHI: I don’t
think it needs more power. WILL KAUFMAN: Well, the power
is only part of it, right? The other thing that– the other thing
that the other power train options on the
other vehicles offer is not just more power,
but more fuel efficiency. You’ve got a hybrid
motor in the RAV4 and you’ve got the
1.5 liter turbo in the CR-V, both of which
are more efficient than what you get in this car. JOSH SADLIER: But I think the
point about cargo capacity for me in this segment is I
doubt that many buyers are actually folding down
the seats and maximizing every last cubic foot
that’s available. I feel like what they’re looking
for is a high seating position. Yeah, a convenient
hatchback trunk, sure, you can fold down the
seats if you need to, but I think it’s the
style that really pushes this one over the top
compared to other cars in the class for the price. Like, you want to look
good driving a crossover, I feel like that’s
part of the appeal. WILL KAUFMAN: This is
also the best seating position of any of the ones
we have here today for sure. I mean, you feel a little bit
more ensconced in the vehicle, you’ve got armrests
that at least for me actually
work on both sides. And that’s– I mean, just that,
just the feel of sitting down and in this vehicle, there is
a little bit of that sportiness to it. And I also think it’s just the
most comfortable– these seats to me are the most comfortable
of the three we have. JOSH SADLIER: Starting
with acceleration, the CR-V turns out to have a
pretty significant advantage. We’re talking about a
second-and-a-half to 60– seven-and-a-half for the CR-V,
nine seconds-plus for the CX-5 and RAV4. What do we think about that? MARK TAKAHASHI: It’s crazy. I mean, the CX-5 feels so
much faster and livelier, but numbers don’t lie. JOSH SADLIER:
Braking distance we go from 60 to zero,
full panic stop. Once again the CR-V has
a significant advantage– 121 feet in that
panic stop versus 130 for the other two cars. When it comes to
cargo space, the CR-V has a class-leading
39.2 cubic feet of it behind the second row. That’s on par with
some mid-size SUVs. MARK TAKAHASHI:
Cargo capacity is one of the main reasons people
gravitate towards crossovers like these. WILL KAUFMAN: That
is really impressive, but on paper, it’s within
a cubic foot of the RAV4. In the real world, that
makes a difference, though. You can see, after the most
unexpected game of Tetris ever, JOSH SADLIER: We are down one
golf bag, but only one golf bag, so they’re
pretty much the same. The CX-5, though, I feel
like it’s a little smaller. Is that– Mark? Is it smaller? MARK TAKAHASHI: It’s smaller. That is what didn’t fit in
the RAV4, and all of this is what doesn’t fit in the CX-5. At 30.9 cubic feet, it’s the
smallest capacity of the bunch, but that’s still a lot of stuff. WILL KAUFMAN: I know the
force is the bestselling vehicle in this
segment, but it’s really starting to show its age. Compared to these other two,
it just can’t really hold up. We’re going after you
run this test again and we get the new model
in because I think it’s going to be a big improvement. MARK TAKAHASHI: And I
realize that the CX-5 doesn’t have the greatest
cargo capacity, but it really appeals
to my left brain. I mean, it looks great,
and drives even better. JOSH SADLIER: But here’s
what the right brain says. The CR-V’s got the best fuel
economy, best cargo capacity, best braking, and best
acceleration in the whole test. Case closed. MARK TAKAHASHI: Let us
know what you think. Leave a comment below, and
if you like what you see, hit Subscribe. And check out
for full ratings and reviews of each of these SUVs. [MUSIC PLAYING]

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Now do a resale value after two and four years, I pick the Toyota as #1, Honda #2 and the Mazda in 3rd.  What do you think?

  2. I've driven the Honda and the Mazda. I just hate the looks of the RAV4 and don't think I could live with it. Honda wins in utility for sure. It is big and has a better engine choice. I really loved the Mazda. I was super happy in the Mazda. It just felt more refined and I really liked its handling. Soon, a 2.5 turbo and a turbo diesel will be available in the Mazda. I know the 2.5 turbo will be a guzzler but I can't wait to drive it!

  3. Guys, in your conclusions you reversed left and right brains. The left brain does the math on fuel economy and the right likes pleasing shapes.

  4. Reliability is king at this point in my life. I don't trust Honda transmissions, had one blow at 80k, car went to junk yard. Scared to death of CVTs right now, maybe next time. So I bought a brand new 2018 RAV4 XLE out the door for $27,000. I refused to buy the 2019, I've been burned by first year of major model changes before. My 2 cents worth.

  5. Would have been nice to add a snow and ice hill climb test in the AWD versions. I don't think it would have been close at all.
    (I would buy the Mazda just because I refuse to own a CVT transmission).

  6. Have 2017 Rav4XLE, no changes in '18 model. Purchase for cargo capacity. Hears what suck about Rav way the AWD system engages (button), speech recognition (very poor), clunky way controls work i.e. turning on and off safety features, in car light (very poor), ventilation (need air to cargo & thru center console (pets)), no passenger seat electric controls, clunky infotainment system (it may be most secure), gas mi best 22mpg in 14K of combined driving.

  7. I'm not a Mazda fan, more of a Honda girl but the Rav 4 and CRV looks dated and basic and I don't need that much cargo room.. Anyone have any complaints about the Mazda!?!?!?! Thinking about getting one 😊😊TY

  8. What are you guys doing in a circuit with SUVs. I mean, sure it is important that you like how the car rides, but knocking on the performance on any of these is not fair. Take an nsx, Supra and rx7 and this review makes sense. But you should have gone to a supermarket with two strollers in the back and over bumps and stuff. In real life I think the Honda offers the most for the tech and price. Also it's super comfy.

  9. i drive a CRV SE 2016 CVT after driving another CRV 2004. Not much difference between the two gear boxes. Most of the drivers won't even notice a difference.

  10. I really enjoyed the presentation from three well versed experts. Unfortunately one not small detail was left out. CRV four doors open 90 degrees. I know. I'm on my second CRV. Rav4 and Mazda CX5 both open the front doors about 70 degrees and the back doors even less. Having 90 degrees is helpful to people with some sort of movement limitations, as well as to load/unload baby strollers.

  11. The Mitsu 2018-9 PHeV is good to have but a tad expensive, eh ? Toyota has good engine designs. Up to 2018, the Rav4 outside was pugly and generic, now it looks tolerable. Like the Sportage which look good till 2010 auto-body designers have no clue what esthetics is all about. Or the CRV till 2006 then they made "changes" and it look, well, not so purty. Now the 2019 RAV3 is expensive for its class when other "ugly" brands are trying to unload their ugly stocks.

  12. Recently bought a CRV. My second choice was the CX5, while the RAV4 was #3, and would have been perfectly acceptable too. The CX5 styling almost sold me. I just wasn’t convinced a Mazda would hold up like the Honda or the Toyota, and I plan on keeping it for years. The reliability and durability meant more to me in the long run, than the styling, although I think the CRV and RAV4 are attractive cars.

  13. If i want a ride that is comfy, fun to drive, AND i want to keep it for more than 10years and hopefully no major problems with that car, any suggestion ? this would be my first brand new car

  14. The crv does have a cvt and it does take some getting used to…. BUT, it is quicker than both of the others in this comparison and gets better mpg. So, the Asian guy saying it leaves you wanting more on highway on ramps is full of shit.

  15. 🖕🏼🖕🏼🖕🏼🖕🏼CVT and Turbo, I will never ever purchase any vehicle with these two crappy features at all.

  16. My wife is a loyal HondaAcura buyer but she has a CX-5 so that says a lot about the upcoming of Mazda to me! Long live the CX-5! 😉

  17. What's not to love about the Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD 2019, it's the best car ever. Nothing can compare! Great on gas, comfortable, and many precautions for crashes which is the lead causes for injury and death. This car handles mountain roads where we live so well, and highway driving. So why not have something that gives you more security. Love everything it has to give, and more. ❤️Just sharing

  18. This test was about as useful as lining up a Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger, to see which one holds the most groceries. What these SUVs can do on a track is useless to about 100% of the people who drive them, in mostly straight line suburbia.

  19. Don't get me wrong, I love cars that are sporty and can drive well around bends. However, as a family man logic has to come first and the CRV is easily the most family friendly. I am over six feet tall and had ACRES of leg head and shoulder room both in the front and back. The cargo space was also so generous. Looks do play a role as well obviously. The RAV is not good looking in my view leaving the Mazda and CRV. The boy racer says Mazda but the father and husband says CRV. Also I was very surprised to see that the CRV outperformed the Mazda in acceleration and braking. Great comprehensive comparison guys, thank you!

  20. Got $25000 through the help of Matty who helped in funding my US bank account without any upfront payment and no interest for a project now worth over $500,000. contact him via whatsapp @ +15186023105

  21. You would think the guys at Edmunds would know the difference between an HR-V and a CR-V. CR-V is a compact SUV, not a cross-over as portrayed in this video. Maybe I don't know anything, but I am pretty sure Honda calls the CR-V a compact SUV, and the HR-V, a compact cross-over.

  22. You all seem sold on he small 4 cal turbo, a lot of people aren't. That would keep me from considering the Honda.

  23. Got $25000 through the help of Matty who helped in funding my US bank account without any upfront payment and no interest for a project now worth over $500,000. contact him via whatsapp @ +15186023105

  24. Always loved Honda's but I would be afraid of long-term CVT ownership, not to mention, fuel dilution that they can't seem to correct. The RAV4 sells well because it is RELIABLE, people opt for Toyota because they value durability most of all. Out of these 3, I'd personally go for the CX-5!

  25. Got $25000 LOAN through the help of Matty who helped in funding my US bank account without any upfront payment, no collateral and no interest for a project now worth over $500,000. contact him via whatsapp @ +15186023105

  26. I was looking at the hondas today and was very impressed by them. I'm a big toyota guy and thought the rav 4 was a disappointment. Looked at the bigger Highlander and was disappointed as well. The new rav4 redesign is better inside for comfort and sportiness but feels smaller and harder to get into. The Honda was designed for functionality and daily use and I was not expecting to like it. The crv is like an alternative to the subaru forester/outback for comfort and functionality. But offers easier use for people with kids and daily use.

  27. They are all good suv but for me , Toyota is still the best! durability, availability and affordability.

  28. The cx5 is nice looking but remember it has bad transmission problems. Mazda’s have the worst cvt and auto transmissions. The Rav4 will last long, your grand kids will drive it.

  29. CX-5, hands down. The others are a little too….utilitarian. They're nice, don't get me wrong, but meh when it comes to personality and character. Honestly, test driving them, I didn't feel much for the CRV or RAV4. I knew I was going to get a CX-5 as soon as I sat in one and started driving.

  30. Common Edmunds….use your head. If you ask anyone almost everyone will let you know this video is not complete without Subaru Forester. How come you guys avoid forester from this segment. If you ask me I will choose forester over RAV4, CRV or Mazda. The money customer pay, customer get more like all wheel drive , their safety system, fuel per gallon, space, best seating position & customer service. Compare to price of all three i think Subaru is best choice. It’s a shame you all avoided the brand from this video.

  31. Mazda all the way. I am a senior citizen and I have one. I wanted to sit higher and I love the style. It also fits my friends when going out and the cargo space fits all our shopping. Thanks for the video

  32. I vote CX5. I own one. Great car, looks great, handles even better! Hidden gem of the SUV world. 👍❤️

  33. Mazda front grill looks so ugly. The only one looks nice is the trd bodykited rav4 or subaru forester sti or the Nissan xtrail. These are over the top styling.

  34. The RAV4, "a perfectly fine place to spend time. " Yes, thanks for that!! As I move toward purchasing a small SUV, that's exactly how I'm thinking. I'm a woman who likes to be in her car — not to transport kids and/or stuff, but to just be outdoors; to unwind; to listen to music and sing along as loud as I want and to watch the sky change as rain moves in. Having had three Toyotas, I'm leaning toward this RAV-4. I find it to have some sexier, less conservative angles than the Honda (predictable) and the Mazda (unimaginative). Another reviewer suggested the RAV4 was less "masculine." I'd agree with that.

  35. weird that toyota put apple car play and android auto in the rav4 but not in the new 4runners❗️❗️❗️❗️

  36. I was set on a mazda so today we had one for an hour then we thought we better check out the rav4 And that changed our mine we now have a new rav4 in the driveway We liked the cx5 but as soon as we drove off in the rav we noticed instantly The motor in the rav was much quieter the noise in the mazda is much higher then the next thing we booth noticed was the rav was much softer more comfortable and with the much larger boot we went with the rav

  37. Don’t buy cx5. I purchased one last month and it had horrific oil burning smell from engine for two weeks also the engine fans run after shut off and there’s a high pitch squeal from engine at shut off. The service manager says this is normal.

  38. Well I never use my car for moving things so… CX5 my choice because it well designed, good agility and fun to drive too

  39. I am a honda man i have crv 2007and civic 2014 but mazda cz5 for the win. And mazda cx5 is my next suv to buy promise.

  40. I don't get the love for the CX5.
    This car literally does EVERYTHING worse than all of its competitors.(not just the ones shown in the video)
    The only good thing is its turbo engine. Still, it would be smoked by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
    Anyway, people buying cars like these need space, security, visibility, comfort, etc, and the Mazda CX5 clearly has none of this.
    Message to Subaru : please bring back the Forester XT so that Mazda fanboys shut up. lol

  41. when will you do the same test with the 2019 honda CRV hybrid and toyota RAV4 hybrid or you still don't have the Honda hybrid in the US

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