The race to control the Sport Utility market has been ongoing for some time now, but in recent years, it seems like that race is heating up as automakers have all but abandoned the car/sedan to increase SUV production and compete for consumer attention and the dollars that are sure to follow. In an auto-market saturated with Sport Utility vehicles, how can drivers sift through all the different brands not to mention each vehicles slew of variant trims, additional features, and specialty add-on packages? That is where we officially step in giving you the rundown on the specs for the hottest current sport utility vehicles on the market today; we are here to make sure you get the vehicle you want that provides the options you need for your everyday lifestyle. But let’s not kid ourselves, who does not like knowing, as an added bonus perhaps, that you have that hauling power if the opportunity ever arises. We have picked two of the most popular mid-size crossover SUV’s on the market today and let them battle it out in our side by side comparison. In the battle between 2019 GMC Terrain vs 2019 Mazda CX-5, you will easily come to realize that a well-equipped Terrain is quicker, has more towing capacity, and offers a wider array of optional features.
In the performance department, the Terrain prioritizes comfort with solid powertrains that place emphasis on its newly refined body frame to provide a smooth luxury-esque ride for driver and passengers alike. The GMC Terrain is the clear standout when it comes to both engine size and high-performance capabilities. The Terrain offers the choice of three turbocharged four-cylinder engines, the largest being the highly recommended 252 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-Liter available on the SLE and SLT trim levels and standard on the Denali. Of this selection, two are gas, and the other is an impressively fuel efficient 1.6-liter four-cylinder diesel that returns an estimated 40 mpg on the highway. Even with the standard 1.5 Liter engine, you will still feel enough of a punch while accelerating quickly getting you up to cruising speed. Now granted, the smaller engine is less responsive at higher speeds due to fuel efficiency measures GMC put in place, but this is a hardly noticeable eco-friendly feature since highway speeds once met generally only need to be maintained or decreased afterward. As far as the most impressive 2.0-Liter engine, it is capable of reaching 0-60 in only 6.8 seconds according to Car and Driver’s tests on the engine in a Terrain Denali. You might expect some towing power from a crossover, but this amount of speed is a pleasant surprise.
The Mazda CX-5 does offer some new improvements for 2019 that would be deemed impressive for most standard crossovers, but not when stacked up against Chevy’s Terrain. The new turbocharged 2.5-Liter four cylinder engine is underwhelming, to say the least. The base trim level Sport, Touring and Grand Touring CX-5s still come standard with the regular, mostly unresponsive 2.5-Liter engine with 187 hp, 186 lb-ft of torque. However, the turbocharged optionable engine is only available on the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature top trim levels that reach a different price grade in the upper $30,000 range. Even if you shell out the big bucks for the turbo, the Mazda’s acceleration is still lackluster at best. Just to give you a more factual accounting of the Mazda’s tepid acceleration, it took an exhaustingly long 8.7 seconds for the CX-5 to reach 0-60 mpg according to Edmunds.
As far as fuel economy for the two vehicles, GMC bests Mazda resoundingly posting better than average EPA ratings by SUV industry standards. Unsurprisingly, the Terrain is also stacked with a better fuel economy posting an EPA estimated 28 city/39 highway mpg while the CX-5 comes up short once again in fuel economy with an estimated 25 mpg city and only 31 mpg highway. Mazda’s highway figures barely break the 30 MPG mark for highway driving and end up only being 3 mpg away from the Terrain’s city driving estimates. For a crossover that should aim to post estimates closer to the fuel economy of a car, the Mazda CX-5 has some serious drag on its sporty frame and an engine that simply can not provide enough power to compensate for its’ shortcomings in acceleration.
Although most mid-size crossover vehicles are not purchased with utility as their main function, they are still expected to relatively well according to industry SUV standards. We would not fault a crossover for being unable to haul the load of Full-Size pickup, but it should no issue with pulling say a U-Haul trailer. What is the use of such a large framed vehicle if it can not actually provide any towing or hauling functions? The GMC Terrain does not disappoint and even ends up overperforming in this category. The 2.0-liter turbo four is capable of towing up to an impressive 3,500 pounds truly making the Terrain even more of an all-terrain vehicle; the standard and diesel engines are limited to 1500 pounds, but that is not much of a limit given it’s for a mid-size SUV. In contrast, the CX-5 at premium trim levels can only tow up to 2,000 pounds, which is above average for the segment of crossovers, but no match for more powerful Terrain.
As far as cargo space, both vehicles match up pretty evenly in this category. The Terrain and CX-5 both are slightly limited in space for cargo behind the rear seats by industry standards; however, both vehicles make up for tight space with inventive fold down seat options and plenty of cubby storage options, visible and hidden. The Terrain once again does carry a slight advantage in storage room having a longer chassis to provide 63 cubic feet with seats folded down whereas the CX-5’s short bus stature and length only provides a maximum of 59.6 ft³ with seat area down. A slight advantage that is hardly noticeable although it may prove valuable on the families next Christmas tree cutting expedition or hauling the team’s soccer gear for the kid’s next away game.
Once again, the two crossover vehicles are pretty evenly matched in the tech department. The Terrain and CX-5 are big heavy hitters when it comes to optionable and standard features; also, both companies have littered the interior of their vehicles with numerous USB ports ensuring that no electric device goes uncharged. The Terrain benefits by providing many of its features as standard throughout the different trim levels. As is becoming standard for all automaker’s lineups, multiple driver aids are made available including automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. Advancements in safety feature technology also allow for driver’s of the Terrain to include and adjust their preferred personal settings in the software. The Terrain’s Mazda and GMC definitely make sure not to disappoint all those tech babies learning to drive by providing either 7-inch (CX-5 & Terrain) and available 8-inch (Terrain) infotainment screens that are both intuitive and function well. And of course, Apple Carplay and Android Auto are both compatible in either vehicle.
Purchasing the 2019 GMC Terrain over the 2019 Mazda CX-5 is an all-around better decision based on the overall value you get from the entire package. To be cliche, we are basically saying it has more and plenty of bang for its buck. The Terrain gives driver’s the option of three engines, can provide the towing power if needed, and offers decent room for seating and storage. The specs are overwhelmingly in GMC’s favor when you compare it to Mazda’s crossover; The Terrain wins that race every time as a faster, stronger, more tech optioned mid-size crossover rivaling the figures of full-sized vehicles in strength and the compact in fuel economy.