• Apr 26, 2012
2013 Mazda CX-5 front three-quarter static viewWhenever Consumer Reports weighs in on the automotive landscape, we're always eager to hear what its editors have to say. We value their opinions, not because we necessarily agree or disagree, but because CR plays it straight. And sometimes, amidst all the folderol spewed about new models in the pages of car magazines and on the myriad websites devoted to automotive minutiae, it helps to read someone write things like this:

Overall, CR's testers found the CR-V is functional and easy to live with, if not particularly exciting to drive. The CX-5 Touring... is more athletic and engaging to drive, thanks to its agile handling, taut cornering, and responsive steering.

Now this may strike most of you as nothing more than CR displaying its usually astute command of the obvious. But it reads that way for a reason – call it art imitating life. So when the mainstreamers read that the CR-V narrowly beat out the CX-5, it will not just reflect the reality of a market in which the Mazda brand lags well behind Honda, but confirm their worldview. The Honda CR-V will continue to appear on the magazine's "Recommended" list, while the jury will await reliability reports before nominating the Mazda CX-5.

The sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

To read CR's full press release, which also spills the beans on the June issue's head-to-head test between the Mercedes-Benz ML350 and BMW X5, as well as road tests of the Subaru Impreza hatchback and Kia Soul, scroll down. We also have the magazine's video reviews of the crossover pair in video form, so have a look.




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FAMILY-FRIENDLY HONDA CR-V NARROWLY OUTPOINTS MAZDA CX-5 IN CONSUMER REPORTS' SMALL SUV TESTS

Pricey Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and BMW X5 midsize SUVs improve, but fall short of class leaders


YONKERS, NY- With its large back seat, easy access and ample cargo space, the family-friendly Honda CR-V narrowly topped the Mazda CX-5 in Consumer Reports' latest head-to-head small SUVs tests.

On paper, the redesigned CR-V and new CX-5 appear very similar. Both can accommodate five passengers, have comparable dimensions, are available with front- or all-wheel drive, and are priced about the same. They also finished very close in CR's overall road-test scores-with a 77 and a 75, respectively-just under the segment-leading Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.

"While their overall scores were close, these two small SUVs have very distinct characteristics that will probably appeal to different types of drivers" said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Consumer Reports found that the CR-V EX (tested price $26,455) is a more family-friendly SUV, with a large backseat, easy access, lots of cargo space, and a comfortable ride. It is also notably quicker and more responsive than the CX-5, with a refined drivetrain. On the downside, the CR-V suffers from pronounced road noise, sizable rear blind spots, and subpar at-the-limit handling. Overall, CR's testers found the CR-V is functional and easy to live with, if not particularly exciting to drive.

The CX-5 Touring (tested price $27,125) is more athletic and engaging to drive, thanks to its agile handling, taut cornering, and responsive steering. It's more at home on a twisty road and is more likely to satisfy enthusiast drivers. The CX-5 also delivers the best fuel economy in its class-25 mpg overall-thanks to Mazda's new Skyactiv technology. The mid-level Touring version came well equipped with a full-power seat, keyless ignition and a blind-spot monitoring system. But the CX-5's trade-offs include a smaller, noisier cabin; a choppy ride on the highway; and slower acceleration.

The full report on Consumer Reports' latest small SUV tests will be available on www.ConsumerReports.org April 26 and in the June issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands May 8th. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars

The Mercedes-Benz ML350and BMW X5 luxury SUVs were also tested against each other, as well as two small hatchbacks, the Subaru Impreza and Kia Rio.

Only the CR-V is Recommended by Consumer Reports. Although the CX-5 scored well enough, it's still too new for CR to have reliability information. To be Recommended, a vehicle must perform well in CR's battery of tests, have average or better reliability in CR's Annual Auto Survey and perform well in government and industry crash tests.

Helped by an impressively quiet and luxurious cabin, the redesigned Mercedes-Benz ML350 beat the sportier, updated BMW X5 in a match between the two German luxury SUVs. The new ML jumped seven points in Consumer Reports' Ratings over the previous generation, with a Very Good overall road-test score. It's more fuel efficient, quicker, and quieter than the previous model. The transmission and controls are also improved.

With a turbocharged six-cylinder base engine that's quicker and more fuel-efficient than the previous one, the X5 also achieved a Very Good score. But its choppy ride and overly heavy steering did not improve. The X5's tested price of $62,675 is almost $6,000 more than the comparably equipped $56,960 ML.

In everyday driving, both the ML and X5 exhibited good handling, with little body lean. The ML's steering is responsive but a touch vague. The more agile X5 holds the edge in handling and steering, but its steering feels heavy in low-speed situations such as when parking. At its handling limits, the X5 was capable and controlled; the ML350 was considerably less capable, with lower limits.

Both vehicles rank mid-pack in this category, below the less expensive Acura MDX ($46,715) and Lexus RX 350 ($47,381). Although the SUVs scored well enough in CR's tests, neither model is Recommended because the ML350 is too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data and the turbo X5 has had below-average reliability.

Consumer Reports also recently tested the Subaru Impreza Hatchback and Kia Soul. The all-wheel-drive Impreza ($22,345), which was redesigned for 2012, has a smooth, comfortable ride, while the Soul ($19,270) can be unpleasantly stiff. Although the Soul is notably quicker thanks to recent engine tweaks and a new six-speed automatic transmission, performance is marred by much longer braking distances.

In some ways, the two cars are very alike, providing easy access, simple controls, similar cargo room and turning circles, and the same commendable fuel economy of 26 mpg overall. Each also suffers from a noisy cabin. The Impreza's overall road-test score places it second in Consumer Reports' small-hatchback Ratings, behind the Volkswagen Golf. The less-refined Soul scored lower, but Consumer Reports found it to be a good value.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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  • 98 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Gorgenapper
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sadly, the majority of drivers are idiot sheep and will flock to Honda as blindly as they have always done. It will take a few years before people even realize Mazda is a Japanese brand (I've had people tell me it's Korean...same people who tell me that Subaru is German for 'AWD', and im not even kidding in the least) The CX-5 kicks the crap out of the CR-V in everything except power and brand perception.
        Gcbchef
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Gorgenapper
        Why do you talk like you're better than most consumers? Most could care less that Mazda is Korean as long as they build good cars. It's not as if the CX-5 isn't lacking in other measures either. Aside from power, the ride just wasn't as compliant as the CR-V's and it is a fair bit smaller as well. Even with SkyDrive and 6sp transmission, the CR-V's powertrain strikes me as the more impressive one, with 25 more horses, more torque, and about equal hwy mileage. These things I'm sure matter more to consumers that have other priorities to worry about.
          Gorgenapper
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gcbchef
          Most consumers don't know what an oil change really is, and why it is necessary for the car. All they know is that they "have" to go back to the dealer when the car starts flashing its maintenance reminder light at them, hand over the keys and sit in the waiting room reading Vogue or Pet Poodles Monthly for about an hour. Then they will get verbally massaged by the service adviser, maybe up-sold a maintenance package or two, pay for their.... what was it they had to get done again?.... and drive off in their freshly washed (and freshly paint swirled) car. And you wonder why I "talk like I'm better than most consumers". Maybe it's because I'm not a sheep and I actually try to learn things from either doing it myself or by sitting at the feet of others who have gone before me and have more knowledge. Here's an example for you. My MS3 has this thing called a PCV valve... most consumers wouldn't know WTF this even does. Well, the way Mazda had designed it, whenever there is positive pressure in the crankcase, that pressure is relieved by shooting it into the intake manifold...but that air is laden with oil, fuel and other crap...which cakes the inside of my IM as it gets burned off. So I installed an oil catch can to rectify the problem. You'd be surprised by how much crap it has already caught. I started thinking about why Mazda doesn't include a factory-installed oil catch can....then I realized that the average consumer - even those who buy MS3s - are sheep and won't understand the purpose of a catch can and why they have to empty it on a regular basis. They'll just see this as another maintenance nuisance, let the can fill up and cause something bad to happen....
        KaiserWilhelm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Gorgenapper
        Yup, I've heard people who think BMW is british, and Porshce is italian.
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder what reason a buyer might have to go for the CR-V other than ignorance, blindness and total lack of any automotive knowledge. CX-5 has better mileage, better chassis, better engine, better transmission, better handling, better looks. It reminds me of the year when Jethro Tull won the best heavy metal performance Grammy over Metallica. Enter Consumer Reports....
        Zoom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        The CRV is comfort food. And Americans LOVE to not have to think.
        spw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        did you actually watch video review? They said CX-5 is slow, noisy and harsh, less space and comfort over CRV. I bet if CX-5 had stronger than 155hp engine, it would have won... but it doesnt.
        Indubitably
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Well said! I'm pretty sure most CR-V buyers don't even know their cars need oil changes -- just sheep buying a moving appliance.
      Pat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Every time that I get a chance to say it, I say it! Mazda sucks! Their cars are not terribly well made and their after-sale service is right up there with Chrysler. In late 2009, we bought a 2009 Mazda5 --we got it rid of it last month! Rust --3 times!, Deffective suspension --4 times, broken pullie --twice. Abnormal tire wear, sliding doors that won't latch in freezing weather ... And every time, a fight with the dealer(s) --I tried several. Now, you're saying, that can't be! This guy is a loser ! Google those topics!
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pat
        Rust issues three times in three years? Not buying that. Four suspension issues in three years? Not buying that.
        Deutschlieber
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pat
        For what seems like your very negative experience, I have to say that I had three Mazdas and never had any problems out of any of them. My miata ran like a top until I sold her at 135K miles. I don't understand why you kept it so long. If you had this many recurring problems, you should have lemon lawed it before now. It's hard to believe that you have had three rust incidents and 4 suspension defects in a car that is three years old and hasn't been abused. Wow!
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Deutschlieber
          That's what makes the story even less believable. Anyone with a brain would have lemoned the vehicle, or dumped it immediately.
      MattMan
      • 2 Years Ago
      The CX-5 absolutely owns the CR-V in the looks dept.
        Lavell Riddle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MattMan
        but the CR-V owns the CX-5 in the reliablity and funtionality, the CR-V is the benchmark, its a wel built crossover year after year
          WillieD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Lavell Riddle
          Owns it in functionality? How?
        lokestreachery
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MattMan
        Agreed. If they're so close when compared, then looks alone would be reason enough to go Mazda!
        telm12345
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MattMan
        Totally have to agree! Also, I have to ask: I drove an Accord for about 3 hours (daily) for about a week and just happen to drive a CR-V a couple of weeks later for a 5 hour drive. Both cars KILLED my back after a while. Is that the case with all Hondas? Did they change the seats lately?
          clearwater
          • 2 Years Ago
          @telm12345
          Interesting, everybody is build differently I guess. This comparison of the CX-5 and CR-V differed from your view. "Nearly every tester commented on how comfortable the front seats were. The rear seats were deemed the most comfortable for three people and tied for first in comfort with two people. " http://www.autos.ca/car-test-drives/comparison-test-five-compact-cuvs/5
          nardvark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @telm12345
          Yea, the seats are not particularly good, not sure why.
      4gasem
      • 2 Years Ago
      That Mazda is SO much better looking IMO. If I was in the market for a small one, I'd look at the Mazda and the new not yet released Escape.
      Matt Smith
      • 2 Years Ago
      I bought a CX-5. I would never buy a CRV over it. There's no comparing the way they drive. With that said...the CRV has a better cargo area, a more comfortable ride, is easier to get in and our of, has a standard rear camera and of course is known for reliability. So of course CR is going to think it is better. They don't review cars for enthusiasts, they review them for people who think a BMW 3-series if front wheel drive.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most disappointing. After a brief moment of honesty (see: Civic) , looks like Consumer Reports has returned to the status quo of giving bland outdated behind the curve hondas awards simply because they are hondas
        msspamrefuge
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        The Civic regressed when almost everything else in the compact segment began punching above weight. It rides better, but is also less fun to drive and has interior materials quality that would've been shameful back in the 90s, which is why nearly all of the automotive media ripped Honda a new one. The CR-V, while failing to move the powertrain game, actually improved on many of the previous version's flaws. That said, the CX-5 is hardly the last shot it has to dodge.
      Ashley Grant
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is no question the Mazda CX-5 is a way better SUV...Better gas mileage, all new engines, chassis. Superb Handling for an SUV...almost everything about the CX-5 IS BEST IN CLASS.... And Yes, I have owned dozens of Mazda and won't drive anything else, they ARE for the Driver... To PAT...all I can say is some owners are mighty rough/tough on Cars, and IF you had a 2009 5 and was a civil owner I am certain Mazda would have rectified all those issues as you car is/was still under factory warranty. I find it very strange where Mazda achieves #1 (most of the time) in Australia, Germany and many other countries for customer satisfaction and vehicle rellability...even 3 years out...99% of all Mazda's come out of same plant in Japan, so what gives? Mazda don't do NORMAL CARS...they don't make appliances which Honda, Toyota are.
        Smooth
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ashley Grant
        Mazda, unlike Toyota and Honda, is also having some financial problems (if they aren't anymore, correct me). I love the fact that they cater to people that like sporty, but they need to find a way to keep the sporty and make money at the same time, ie. mainstream cars. Otherwise they may not be around very long. And appliances, whether we like it or not, pay the bills and allow for the exciting stuff. A Camry or Corolla isn't the most exciting thing to drive, but I know they brought in enough money for Toyota to develop the FR-S and BRZ twins, not to mention the LFA and whatever else Toyota is trying to cook up on the sporty side.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Smooth
          [blocked]
          bigsaucybob
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Smooth
          The only reason Mazda is having financial troubles is because they still manufacture all of their vehicles in Japan. With the depreciation of the Yen, their profit margins have become razor thin. They still sell a healthy amount of cars, it just costs them more and more to produce them and ship them to the United States.
      Slideways
      • 2 Years Ago
      IMO the CRV really pales in comparison with the CX-5... It is loud and slow... Extremely slow. Even worse when have the stupid econ button on. You have to floor the pedal to reach highway speeds. And in a world where a 6 speed tranny is the new standard, the powertrain is dated. Though a ZF 9 speed is coming out, they should have outsource their transmissions to ZF or Aisin a long time ago. The interior looks good but the quality is atrocious.. Lots of hard plastics that felt worse than an old Kia. It was really scratch prone. Aside from ride quality and space, the CX-5 is much better. Like Car and Driver... It wins because it's a Honda. And even though Honda is not trying an inch on their redesigns, it goes to show vanilla still sells well.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slideways
        [blocked]
      clearwater
      • 2 Years Ago
      So ANOTHER win for the CR-V over the CX5, and other competitors. http://www.autos.ca/car-test-drives/comparison-test-five-compact-cuvs/5 "Every reviewer commented that this Honda was the vehicle they felt most comfortable driving, and when driving quickly to boot. The vehicle responds predictably in corners and despite some body roll, is easy to control. The nearly perfect ride balance between comfort and sport is unexpected in this class of vehicle and the steering wheel sends a surprising amount of feedback to the driver."
        BlancaP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @clearwater
        The same review also said "There is no question that the CR-V came out ahead on points in this comparison, but the CX-5 came out slightly ahead in judges’ hearts".
        clearwater
        • 2 Years Ago
        @clearwater
        So everyone on this blog assumes the CX5 to be the best handler...well... "With the light weight and sporty disposition, we expected the CX-5 to be a great handler. Here, we were sorely disappointed. Some blamed it on the GS trim’s 17-inch wheels and soft winter tires, but the CX-5 did not have the composed feel of the Tucson or CR-V. The vehicle would push into corners and the lazy transmission and weak engine combination made exiting turns with any haste impossible. Coming into this comparison test, everyone had high expectations for the brand new Mazda CX-5. With its benchmark fuel economy numbers and handsome styling, many thought we had a winner on our hands. So, what happened? Well, the CR-V happened. " http://www.autos.ca/car-test-drives/comparison-test-five-compact-cuvs/4
          clearwater
          • 2 Years Ago
          @clearwater
          Oh yes, it's a Mazda. Therefore if MUST be the ZOOM ZOOM bestest, mostest, greatest handling CUV on the planet.
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @clearwater
          "Here, we were sorely disappointed. Some blamed it on the GS trim’s 17-inch wheels and soft winter tires, but the CX-5 did not have the composed feel of the Tucson or CR-V." The Tucson handles better? LOL. The Mazda was on winter tires, and they are complaining about understeer and lack of grip? That publication lost all credibility. I'll wait for Car and Driver to do a comparo...
          NightFlight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @clearwater
          Hey guys look, ___|___, rantmaster, Invisiblog, Wrangler Unlimited, Mary Keana, Mitchell is back!
          • 2 Years Ago
          @clearwater
          [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          @clearwater
          [blocked]
        BlancaP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @clearwater
        And the CR-V they tested was $34,900. Of course it was slicker.
      FIDTRO
      • 2 Years Ago
      More like Boring edges out Underrated.
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