2015 Mazda CX5 vs 2015 Nissan Rogue vs 2015 Toyota RAV4

A comparison between the 2015 Mazda CX5, 2015 Nissan Rogue, and 2015 Toyota RAV4.

My wife and I have been considering to purchase a new car to replace a very old Honda Civic with over 170,000 miles. Because this next car is likely to shuttle around our future kids, I want a SUV, which I've heard makes it easier (less stress on the lower back) to load infants in and out of a car's baby seat. Meanwhile, I value good MPG, so I'm looking for a Crossover SUV with good gas mileage. Lastly, I want my dollars (estimated approximately $30,000) spent on a car designed to last, so the car should be reliable and I hit over 100,000 miles. And since new technology is starting to make its way into cars, the following features are a must have:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring
    Changing lanes while driving is what makes driving dangerous. Having one more tools to prevent cars hidden in the blind spot keeps the driver and passengers safer.
  • Backup Camera
    Make backing up the car safer, especially when there might be kids around in the future.
  • Touch Screen Display
    These are generally more intuitive to use than non-touch screens with mini joysticks.
  • Auto Dimming Rear View Mirror
    I have gotten used to these in my 2007 Toyota Camry and they have drastically improved the driving experience (especially when there is a large truck behind me). If only they could put the same technology in the side view mirrors.
  • Keyless Entry and Push to Start
    Much more convenient than having to fumble for my keys, which happens every time I enter the car, this is also a feature I have become accustomed to enjoying.
  • Lots of Trunk Space
    Good for when we have to store strollers and luggage for road trips (or even trips to the grocery store).

2015 Mazda CX5 Grand Touring
I had the opportunity to test drive the Mazda CX5. The drive on this car is very natural (more similar to my 2006 Camry Hybrid) and fun to drive. The main display is very simplistic without many bells and whistles. The Blind Spot Monitoring system is active while driving.  

  1. Great Mileage (best in class)
  2. Has Blind Spot Monitoring that works very well and the light is located in the most intuitive place... on the actual mirror.
  3. Fun to drive
  4. Trunk does does not have self closing feature.

2015 Nissan Rogue SL
While test driving, the first thing I noticed is the engine is quite noisy. I'm not sure if this is due to poor insulation, or just a very loud engine. On the upside, there were tons of electrical features that include the Blind Spot Monitoring, Backup Camera, and Touch Screen Display.

  1. Great Mileage 26/33/28 MPG (FWD) or 25/32/28 MPG (AWD).
  2. Available 3rd row, but you will lose the spare tire (for me, this doesn't make much sense because the 3rd row would be cramped).
  3. A very comprehensive YouTube video review of the 2014 and 2015 Nissan Rogue.
  4. Great cargo space and truck stacking options (I'd most likely keep the basic layout).
  5. Low Consumer Report rating (based on 2014 models, but still a great concern).
  6. Blind Spot Monitoring notification light is inside the car near the side mirror (not on the actual mirror). While test driving, it didn't feel natural to check there for the light.
  7. It has a 360 monitoring (via cameras). Thought its very cool, I don't know how practical it is in the real world.
  8. Also has Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning, but keep in mind these are audio warnings and does nothing to prevent an accident. The ability to keep you in lane and prevent accidents are available on higher end cars.
  9. Has a CVT Transmission, which I've read a lot of negative reviews. It's difficult to determine if anything has been changed in the latest model, but a lot of negative reviews on recent cars. (Power Loss)
  10. Also, there have been complaints on problems with the interior.

2015 Toyota RAV4 Limited
The RAV4 was a car we considered only at the last second, mostly because it had all the right features were were looking for. The main problem with this car that both my wife and I did not like at all was the look of the car.

  1. Has the blind spot monitoring system as an add on option.
  2. With comparable models and option upgrades, the Camry had a competitively low price.
  3. Has a traditional transmission, which is a very mature product and likely to be extremely reliable.

Other Cars Not Test Driven
The Honda Civic Touring does not have a blind spot monitoring system, but has instead decided to improve on the side view mirror. We looked online for the lower end models of the Acura RDX and Audi Q3, but neither come equipped with a touch screen, which is a must have feature. One feature on the Audio Q3 that i did not find on either the Mazda CX5 or Nissan Rogue is adaptive cruise control, which can adjusts its speed to match the distance. This would be helpful for when we drive from Norcal to Socal.

Final Comparison between the CX5, Rogue, RAV4
All in all, if I were ready to buy a car today, the most practical selection is the RAV4. Even though when the search first started, I was heavily interested in the Rogue for all the technology it has. If I based it completely on interior features, the Rogue would win hands down, but problems with the CVT engine and even the interior features (such as GPS) are a deal breaker. I don't want to risk spending ~$30,000 for a new car only to have to deal with issues. The CX5 drives very well, but that's all it has. All of the other features we wanted are available, but very bare bones. And that is why I would end up purchasing a 2015 Toyota RAV4 Limited.

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