2019 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2019 Kia Niro

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The CX-5 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Niro doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

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 Niro doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the CX-5 and the Niro 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, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

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 Niro has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The CX-5’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Niro runs out after 100,000 miles.

Reliability

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Engine

The CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 48 more horsepower (187 vs. 139) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 111 more horsepower (250 vs. 139) and 115 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 195) than the Niro’s 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mazda CX-5 (base engine) is faster than the Kia Niro:

 

CX-5

Niro

Zero to 60 MPH

8.3 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

80.4 MPH

80.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Niro doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (14.8 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The CX-5 AWD’s standard fuel tank has 3.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Niro (15.3 vs. 11.9 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

CX-5

CX-5 Turbo

Niro

Front Rotors

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

10.3 inches

The CX-5 stops much shorter than the Niro:

 

CX-5

Niro

 

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

138 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

144 feet

152 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CX-5 has larger tires than the Niro (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 Niro FE/LX/EX. The CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Niro S Touring/Touring.

Suspension and Handling

The CX-5 has engine speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Niro doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CX-5 is 1.4 inches wider in the front and .8 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Niro.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Niro EX pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Niro EX (28 seconds @ .59 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The CX-5 has 2.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Niro (103.8 vs. 100.9).

The CX-5 has 1.5 inches more front hip room, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 2.2 inches more rear legroom and 7 inches more rear hip room than the Niro.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the CX-5’s rear seats recline. The Niro’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The CX-5 has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the Niro with its rear seat up (30.9 vs. 19.4 cubic feet). The CX-5 has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the Niro with its rear seat folded (59.6 vs. 54.5 cubic feet).

The CX-5’s cargo area is larger than the Niro’s in almost every dimension:

 

CX-5

Niro

Max Width

57”

48.2”

Min Width

41.3”

41”

Height

32.4”

36”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the CX-5’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Niro 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 Niro doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

The CX-5 has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The Niro has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The CX-5 offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Niro doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Niro 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 Niro’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the CX-5’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Niro’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

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 Niro 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 Niro doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Both the CX-5 and the Niro 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 Niro.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the CX-5 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the CX-5 will cost $205 less than the Niro over a five-year period.

The CX-5 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the CX-5 will retain 49.11% to 49.47% of its original price after five years, while the Niro only retains 38.62% to 39.64%.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mazda CX-5 and the Kia Niro, 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 Niro has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

The Mazda CX-5 outsold the Kia Niro by over five to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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