2019 BMW X3 vs. 2019 Mazda CX-5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The X3’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The CX-5 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The X3 has standard Active Protection, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The X3 offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The CX-5 only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The X3’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the X3’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-5 has a metal gas tank.

Both the X3 and the CX-5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the X3 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CX-5 is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

The X3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The CX-5’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The X3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CX-5’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CX-5.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 14th.

Engine

The X3 s/xDrive30i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 61 more horsepower (248 vs. 187) and 72 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 186) than the CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The X3 M40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 105 more horsepower (355 vs. 250) and 59 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 310) than the CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the X3 xDrive30i is faster than the Mazda CX-5 4 cyl.:

 

X3

CX-5

Zero to 60 MPH

6.7 sec

8.7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

16.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.5 MPH

78.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the X3 xDrive30i gets better fuel mileage than the CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature AWD (22 city/29 hwy vs. 22 city/27 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the X3’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the X3’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-5 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The X3’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank (17.2 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The X3 M40i’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-5 AWD’s standard fuel tank (17.7 vs. 15.3 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW X3, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the CX-5.

The X3 M40i’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The CX-5 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the X3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-5:

 

X3

X3 M40i

CX-5

CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.5 inches

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

The X3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CX-5 are solid, not vented.

The X3 stops shorter than the CX-5:

 

X3

CX-5

 

60 to 0 MPH

127 feet

136 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

144 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the X3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-5 (F:245/45R20 & R:275/40R20 vs. 225/65R17).

The X3 xDrive30i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CX-5 Sport/Touring’s standard 65 series tires. The X3’s optional 245/40R21 front and 275/35R21 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X3 xDrive30i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the CX-5 Sport/Touring. The X3’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X3 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The CX-5 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The X3 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The CX-5’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The X3 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The CX-5’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X3’s wheelbase is 6.6 inches longer than on the CX-5 (112.8 inches vs. 106.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the X3 is 1 inch wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-5.

The X3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.4% to 49.6%) than the CX-5’s (57% to 43%). This gives the X3 more stable handling and braking.

The X3 xDrive30i handles at .81 G’s, while the CX-5 Grand Touring AWD pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The X3 xDrive30i executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CX-5 Grand Touring AWD (27.6 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the X3 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-5 (8 vs. 7.5 inches), allowing the X3 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the X3 uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CX-5 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The X3 has 1.4 inches more front headroom, .5 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-5.

Cargo Capacity

The X3 has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-5 with its rear seat folded (62.7 vs. 59.6 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the X3. The CX-5 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

The X3’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the CX-5’s (4400 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The X3 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CX-5 uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the X3 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the CX-5. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Mazda. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 71% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 27th.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the X3 and the CX-5 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the X3 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The CX-5 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The X3’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The CX-5’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the X3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote or with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the CX-5 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The X3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The CX-5’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The X3’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the CX-5’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

The X3 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-5 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The X3’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature.

When the X3 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The CX-5’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The X3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The CX-5 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The X3 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature.

Both the X3 and the CX-5 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the X3 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The CX-5 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The X3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The CX-5 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Both are recommended, but Consumer Reports® chose the BMW X3 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the X3 third among compact premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The CX-5 isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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