2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid vs. 2020 Mazda CX-5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Highlander Hybrid are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Highlander Hybrid has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum has standard Automated Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The CX-5 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Highlander Hybrid AWD’s standard Downhill Assist Control allows you to creep down safely. The CX-5 doesn’t offer Downhill Assist Control.

The Highlander Hybrid’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.

Both the Highlander Hybrid and the CX-5 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, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available all wheel drive, daytime running lights and around view monitors.

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid weighs 505 to 1054 pounds more than the Mazda CX-5. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander Hybrid for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mazda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CX-5.

There are over 2 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Mazda dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander Hybrid’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 51 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 56 more horsepower (243 vs. 187) than the CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Highlander Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the CX-5:

Highlander Hybrid

CX-5

FWD

Auto

36 city/35 hwy

25 city/31 hwy

4 cyl.

AWD

Auto

35 city/35 hwy

24 city/30 hwy

4 cyl.

Regenerative brakes improve the Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid’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.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Highlander Hybrid has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-5 FWD’s standard fuel tank (17.1 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Highlander Hybrid has 1.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-5 AWD’s standard fuel tank (17.1 vs. 15.3 gallons).

Transmission

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The Highlander Hybrid has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Highlander Hybrid

CX-5

CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature

Front Rotors

13.3 inches

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Highlander Hybrid has larger tires than the CX-5 (235/65R18 vs. 225/65R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the CX-5 Sport/Touring. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Highlander Hybrid’s wheelbase is 6 inches longer than on the CX-5

(112.2 inches vs. 106.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Highlander Hybrid is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-5.

For greater off-road capability the Highlander Hybrid has a greater minimum ground clearance than the CX-5 (8 vs.

7.5 inches), allowing the Highlander Hybrid to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Highlander Hybrid 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

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The Highlander Hybrid has standard seating for 8 passengers; the CX-5 can only carry 5.

The Highlander Hybrid has 37.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-5 (141.3 vs. 103.6).

The Highlander Hybrid has 1.5 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, 2 inches more front hip room,

1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.4 inches more rear legroom, 1.7 inches more rear hip room and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-5.

Cargo Capacity

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The Highlander Hybrid’s cargo area provides more volume than the CX-5.

Highlander Hybrid

CX-5

Third Seat Folded

48.4 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

30.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

84.3 cubic feet

59.6 cubic feet

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

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

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The Highlander Hybrid’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the CX-5’s (3500 vs. 2000 pounds).

Ergonomics

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The power windows standard on both the Highlander Hybrid and the CX-5 have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Highlander Hybrid 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.

If the windows are left open on the Highlander Hybrid the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the CX-5 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the Highlander Hybrid to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The CX-5 doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

The Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-5’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid and the CX-5 offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Highlander Hybrid 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE/Limited/Platinum has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The CX-5 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/10

The Toyota Highlander outsold the Mazda CX-5 by 65% during the 2019 model year.

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