2019 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Smart City Brake Support optional in the CX-5 as “Superior.” The Golf SportWagen scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Both the CX-5 and the Golf SportWagen 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and 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 Golf SportWagen was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The CX-5 comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Mazda will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf SportWagen.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the CX-5’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf SportWagen 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.’s camshafts. If the Golf SportWagen’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the CX-5’s reliability 21 points higher than the Golf SportWagen.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 22nd in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Engine

The CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (187 vs. 147) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 184) than the Golf SportWagen’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The CX-5’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 19 more horsepower (187 vs. 168) than the Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 82 more horsepower (250 vs. 168) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 199) than the Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CX-5 AWD with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the Golf SportWagen 4Motion Auto (24 city/30 hwy vs. 22 city/30 hwy).

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

The CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Golf SportWagen FWD’s standard fuel tank (14.8 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Mazda CX-5 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf SportWagen.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

CX-5

CX-5 Turbo

Golf

Front Rotors

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

10.7 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CX-5 has larger tires than the Golf SportWagen (225/65R17 vs. 195/65R15).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-5 Sport/Touring has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Golf SportWagen S. The CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Golf SportWagen SE.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the CX-5’s wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than on the Golf SportWagen (106.2 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CX-5 is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 3 inches wider in the rear than on the Golf SportWagen.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Golf SportWagen S pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The CX-5 has 9.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf SportWagen (103.8 vs. 94.3).

The CX-5 has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 4 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf SportWagen.

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

Cargo Capacity

The CX-5 has a larger cargo area than the Golf SportWagen with its rear seat up (30.9 vs. 30.4 cubic feet).

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

Towing

The CX-5 has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The Golf SportWagen 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 Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Golf SportWagen 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 Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the CX-5 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Golf SportWagen only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

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 available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Golf SportWagen’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the CX-5 has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the CX-5 and the Golf SportWagen 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 Golf SportWagen.

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 Golf SportWagen 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 Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Golf SportWagen’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Recommendations

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 Golf has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

The Mazda CX-5 outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by over three to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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