2019 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the CX-5 and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and lane departure warning systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mazda CX-5 is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

CX-5

Highlander Hybrid

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

82

195

Neck Injury Risk

23%

47%

Neck Stress

274 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

23 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

160/307 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

156

291

Neck Stress

205 lbs.

219 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

449/262 lbs.

387/392 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Mazda CX-5 is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

CX-5

Highlander Hybrid

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.5 inches

.6 inches

Hip Force

189 lbs.

348 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

16 inches

Spine Acceleration

32 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

435 lbs.

829 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CX-5 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 45 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Highlander Hybrid is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Engine

The CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 186 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs.) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 310 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs.) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid.

The CX-5 Signature’s optional 2.2 turbo diesel produces 290 lbs.-ft. more torque (290 vs.) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the CX-5 2.5 non-turbo’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Brakes and Stopping

The CX-5 stops much shorter than the Highlander Hybrid:

CX-5

Highlander Hybrid

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

133 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

144 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The CX-5 Signature AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the Highlander Hybrid Limited pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander Hybrid Limited (27.8 seconds @ .59 average G’s vs. 28.2 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the CX-5’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the Highlander Hybrid’s (36 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Mazda CX-5 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1050 to 1300 pounds less than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

The CX-5 is 1 foot, 1.4 inches shorter than the Highlander Hybrid, making the CX-5 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the CX-5 is 1.7 inches lower than the Highlander Hybrid (17.6” vs. 19.3”). The CX-5’s rear step up height is 1.3 inches lower than the Highlander Hybrid’s (18.2” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

The CX-5 has a much larger cargo volume than the Highlander Hybrid with its rear seat up (30.9 vs. 13.8 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the CX-5’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The CX-5 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The CX-5’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 Highlander Hybrid’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s.

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 CX-5’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Highlander Hybrid’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Model Availability

The CX-5 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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 $270 to $1500 less than the Highlander Hybrid over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Mazda CX-5 will be $6434 to $9786 less than for the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Recommendations

The CX-5 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 2 years. The Highlander Hybrid has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

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

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