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2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE vs. Mazda CX-5 Touring- What Does $30K Get You?

We compare the fuel economy, content, and safety of the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 with a firm cap of $30K. Here’s what you can expect.

The affordable compact crossover market is the new family car market. Having passed all other non-truck segments in sales, this segment is the present and future of “cars” as we know them. The Toyota RAV4 is the segment leader in sales at this moment in time, but the truth is there is not a bad crossover on the market. However, many media test vehicles come fully-loaded and at a very high price compared to the average vehicle most of us take home.

Let’s pit the mid-trim Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD vs. the Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD while keeping the MRSP plus destination charges under $30K total and see what each brings to the table. Both vehicles have very similar 4-cylinder engines and automatic transmissions, so we won’t include that in our comparison.

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2016 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD – Price and Packages
Mazda has cleverly priced the 2016 Mazda CX-5 with most if its goodies to come in under $30K. We added the “Moonroof and Bose Audio Package”, and also the “Touring Technology Package” to the Touring AWD CX-5 and the resulting price including MSRP and destination is $29,820. Using the Mazda configurator is quick and easy.

2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE
Toyota’s 2016 RAV4 configurator, by comparison, is dog slow and harder to use. We selected the XLE with the “Entune Premium Audio with Nav and App Suite With Options” package, and the resulting price was $29,170 including just MSRP and destination. There were very tempting packages with other features, but they all take the RAV4 past our budget of $30K.

Infotainment Comparison
The optional package in the Toyota RAV4 adds a seven-inch, high-resolution touch-screen with split-screen display. Nav, BlueTooth, USB ports, traffic and weather updates and a three month SatRad subscription are included. We have tested the infotainment system in the RAV4 XLE and found it easy to use and very intuitive. Oddly Toyota bundles in a “flexible cargo net tray” with this package.

The Mazda CX-5 in our comparison has the Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system as part of its packages. Navigation is included in all Touring CX-5s, as is keyless entry. The Mazda CX-5 has a rotary knob and remote volume control knob mounted on the center console near the shifter to control the infotainment system. We’ve tested it and found it very easy to use.

Comfort and Convenience Content
In our $30K matchup of the RAV4 vs. the CX-5, both come with a power moonroof, back-up camera, BlueTooth connectivity, tilt and telescope wheel, cruise control, and automatic HVAC.

Mazda’s CX-5 Touring has a power adjustable driver’s seat, something the RAV4 does not offer at this price point. The Mazda CX-5’s packages include Homelink, so you won’t need a garage door opener hanging off your visor. Three position heated seats are included as are LED headlights. These are options we could not find in the RAV4 we configured and are advantages for the Mazda CX-5.

The RAV4 offers a power-operated tailgate.

Both the RAV4 and CX-5 score “Good” on all crash tests conducted by IIHS. However, the CX-5’s packages include more active safety than does the RAV4 at $30K. Both active headlamps (that swing side to side) and smart city brake support are included.

Fuel Economy

The Toyota RAV4 with AWD earns an EPA estimated 25 MPG Combined. The Mazda CX-5 AWD is rated at 26 MPG. At today’s gasoline prices, the annual difference in fuel cost is about $50. Both vehicles use regular unleaded fuel.

Both the 2015 Toyota RAV XLE and Mazda CX-5 Touring offer great value at $30K. The CX-5 seems to edge the RAV4 in amenities and fuel economy, but this contest is very close. Personal preference for brand and style may tip the balance for a buyer.

Image Note: Trims shown may differ from those discussed in the story.


angelo (not verified)    March 3, 2017 - 10:19PM

i like to have a comperson who has the best for the buck. i like the safe features lane chang stoping when to close and cameras