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The CX-5 has standard Whiplash-Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash-Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Kicks doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The CX-5 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Kicks doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The Mazda CX-5 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Kicks doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.
The CX-5’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Kicks doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The CX-5 has standard E911 Automatic Emergency Notification, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Kicks doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the CX-5 and the Kicks have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes and rearview cameras.
The Mazda CX-5 weighs 869 to 1186 pounds more than the Nissan Kicks. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CX-5 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Kicks has not been tested, yet.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Nissan is ranked 14th.
The CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 62 more horsepower (187 vs. 125) and 71 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 115) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 125 more horsepower (250 vs. 125) and 195 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 115) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the CX-5 non-turbo’s fuel efficiency. The Kicks doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (14.8 vs. 10.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The CX-5 AWD’s standard fuel tank has 4.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (15.3 vs. 10.8 gallons).
For better stopping power the CX-5’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Kicks:
The Mazda CX-5 has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Kicks. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.
For better traction, the CX-5 has larger tires than the Kicks (225/65R17 vs. 205/60R16).
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-5 Sport/Touring has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Kicks S. The CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Kicks SV/SR.
The Mazda CX-5’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Nissan Kicks only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.
For superior ride and handling, the Mazda CX-5 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Kicks has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the CX-5’s wheelbase is 3.1 inches longer than on the Kicks (106.2 inches vs. 103.1 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CX-5 is 3 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Kicks.
The CX-5’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (57% to 43%) than the Kicks’ (60.8% to 39.2%). This gives the CX-5 more stable handling and braking.
For greater off-road capability the CX-5 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Kicks (7.5 vs. 7 inches), allowing the CX-5 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The CX-5 has 9.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Kicks (103.8 vs. 93.9).
The CX-5 has 4.3 inches more front hip room, 4.1 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 6.4 inches more rear legroom, 6.2 inches more rear hip room and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kicks.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the CX-5’s rear seats recline. The Kicks’ rear seats don’t recline.
The CX-5 has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Kicks with its rear seat up (30.9 vs. 25.3 cubic feet). The CX-5 has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Kicks with its rear seat folded (59.6 vs. 32.3 cubic feet).
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the CX-5’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Kicks doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the CX-5 (except Sport) offers an optional power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button. The Kicks doesn’t offer a power cargo door.
When two different drivers share the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature, the memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The Kicks doesn’t offer memory seats.
The CX-5 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Kicks doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The CX-5’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Kicks’ manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the CX-5 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Kicks doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Kicks doesn’t offer cornering lights.
Both the CX-5 and the Kicks offer available heated front seats. The CX-5 Grand Touring also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Kicks.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the CX-5 (except Sport/Touring) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Kicks doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
On extremely cold winter days, the CX-5 Grand Touring’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Kicks doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Kicks doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.
The CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature’s 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. The Kicks doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
Both the CX-5 and the Kicks offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Kicks SV/SR doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is standard on the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature. The CX-5’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Kicks doesn’t offer a navigation system.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Mazda CX-5, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The CX-5 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” in 2018. The Kicks has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.
The Mazda CX-5 outsold the Nissan Kicks by almost 15 to one during the 2018 model year.
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