Mazda CX-5 Vs. Acura RDX

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Texas
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'19 MX-5, '20 CX-5
I owned a 2019 RDX Advance before owning a 2020 CX-5 Signature.

The RDX's AWD system is superior to Mazda's AWD system in both performance and feel. The RDX is larger and the 16-speaker ELS 3D audio system outperforms the CX-5's Bose system.

The CX-5 is slighter faster in most metrics than an RDX, but you'd never know it unless you were on a race track or performing instrumented testing (things virtually no one is going to do in either of these vehicles in the real world).

See my addition discussions in this thread on this forum.

Here are some comments and comparisons I made between the two on Acurazone.com.

The CX-5 got more respect on the Acura forum than I expected even among those that ultimately chose the RDX over it.
 
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2021 RDX A-Spec
The reliability rating is all I need to know!

erhays said:
I was seriously considering an RDX over the top tier Turbo CX5. However: the reliability rating of the RDX vehicle is disappointing. The must use premium fuel is not a game changer because I only drive ~ 9,000 miles per year. Maybe by 2022 the RDX will have the main bugs worked out. Ed

To be fair, the RDX's reliability rating is dragged down by relatively common first-year model issues. And if you research closely, an overwhelming majority of the "reliability" complaints are about stupid things like infotainment software (which has since been patched) and squeaky brakes (which affects a lot of new cars - supplier issue?). Having researched the RDX to death for about 4 months, very few complain about anything resembling a real, long-term concern. Nevertheless, the car rating websites ding the RDX the same as other cars with real mechanical issues. Go figure.
 
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sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
To be fair, the RDX's reliability rating is dragged down by relatively common first-year model issues. And if you research closely, an overwhelming majority of the "reliability" complaints are about stupid things like infotainment software (which has since been patched) and squeaky brakes (which affects a lot of new cars - supplier issue?). Having researched the RDX to death for about 4 months, very few complain about anything resembling a real, long-term concern. Nevertheless, the car rating websites ding the RDX the same as other cars with real mechanical issues. Go figure.

The first MY of the 2nd gen CX-9 also suffered poor reliability ratings and was considered Mazda's least reliable model by CR for similar reasons. It just goes to show that you have to take these reliability ratings with a grain of salt most of the time, whether they are good or bad.
 
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2014 Mazda3 S GT auto, 2008 MX5 6-speed
I've been subscribing to Consumer Reports magazine for more than 40 years and for the most part, their ratings are spot-on. In their latest magazine, they have predicted reliability ratings for 2021 models.
The Mazda CX-5 has a rating of 85
The Acura RDX has a rating of 34
That's a significant difference. And even the lowest rated Mazda, the 3, has a rating of 64 which is above the Civic, Corolla hatchback, Impreza, Jetta, Soul, and Forte.
 
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Texas
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'19 MX-5, '20 CX-5
I've been subscribing to Consumer Reports magazine for more than 40 years and for the most part, their ratings are spot-on. In their latest magazine, they have predicted reliability ratings for 2021 models.
The Mazda CX-5 has a rating of 85
The Acura RDX has a rating of 34
That's a significant difference. And even the lowest rated Mazda, the 3, has a rating of 64 which is above the Civic, Corolla hatchback, Impreza, Jetta, Soul, and Forte.

I became a Honda owner in the early 1980s and have been heavily invested in the brand in terms of both vehicle purchases and brand knowledge for the last 15 years.

From my perspective, things started to fall apart when Takanobu Ito took over as president of Honda in 2010. A year later, an all-new 9th generation Honda Civic debuted for 2012 that was so bad that Honda did an "emergency refresh" for 2012. It was an improvement and quietened criticisms of the press, but it was still not what it needed to be.

Historically, Honda automobiles featured timeless styling; functional, ergonomic interiors with high quality materials; simple designs; and bulletproof engines.

Several years ago, Honda suddenly went all-in on all the latest technology including CVTs, turbocharged engines, infotainment and telematics, and driver safety and assistance technology. In my opinion, they adopted too much technology too fast in order to remain competitive and it came back to haunt them.

In a somewhat unprecedented move in Japanese business culture, Ito stepped down as president in 2015 following a series of quality blunders and discord within the company.

In 2019, Takahiro Hachigo, Honda's current president, admitted that the company is experiencing a quality crisis and began making changes such as improving internal communication to improve quality and simplifying trim levels to reduce expenses.

It took Honda several years to fall to little more than an average brand. Ito nearly ran the company into the ground and Honda has been riding on their past reputation alone for several years now. I'm confident that Honda can and will do great things, but we're not seeing the best of the brand right now. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln has been producing the lowest-quality Honda models for a while - the Pilot, Ridgeline, Odyssey, and Passport.

I don't always agree with CR's predicted reliability ratings because they're far from perfect, but I don't have any doubt that the CX-5 has fewer problems than the RDX based on my knowledge and experience.

I'd love to be back in a Honda Ridgeline some day - that's the one vehicle that was designed exactly for me. Unfortunately, the quality and attitude at Honda are just too bad right now for me to give them another penny.
 
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yrwei52

2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech Pkg
Contributor
:
Plano, Texas, USA
I became a Honda owner in the early 1980s and have been heavily invested in the brand in terms of both vehicle purchases and brand knowledge for the last 15 years.

From my perspective, things started to fall apart when Takanobu Ito took over as president of Honda in 2010. A year later, an all-new 9th generation Honda Civic debuted for 2012 that was so bad that Honda did an "emergency refresh" for 2012. It was an improvement and quietened criticisms of the press, but it was still not what it needed to be.

Historically, Honda automobiles featured timeless styling; functional, ergonomic interiors with high quality materials; simple designs; and bulletproof engines.

Several years ago, Honda suddenly went all-in on all the latest technology including CVTs, turbocharged engines, infotainment and telematics, and driver safety and assistance technology. In my opinion, they adopted too much technology too fast in order to remain competitive and it came back to haunt them.

In a somewhat unprecedented move in Japanese business culture, Ito stepped down as president in 2015 follow a series of quality blunders and discord within the company.

In 2019, Takahiro Hachigo, Honda's current president, admitted that the company is experiencing a quality crisis and began making changes such as improving internal communication to improve quality and simplifying trim levels to reduce expenses.

It took Honda several years to fall to little more than an average brand. Ito nearly ran the company into the ground and Honda has been riding on their past reputation alone for several years now. I'm confident that Honda can and will do great things, but we're not seeing the best of the brand right now. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama in Lincoln has been producing the lowest-quality Honda models for a while - the Pilot, Ridgeline, Odyssey, and Passport.

I don't always agree with CR's predicted reliability ratings because they're far from perfect, but I don't have any doubt that the CX-5 has fewer problems than the RDX based on my knowledge and experience.

I'd love to be back in a Honda Ridgeline some day - that's the one vehicle that was designed exactly for me. Unfortunately, the quality and attitude at Honda are just too bad right now for me to give them another penny.
Nice post about Honda!

I was the Honda fan since I was young riding a Honda 50cc scooter. I loved the design on Honda at the time because it used 4-cycle engine as other major brands were using 2-cycle’s which usually come with blue smoke from exhaust. But for drivability reason I was only interested in German vehicles after I gave up American cars, and was getting cheapest German VW’s for many years. The first new Japanese vehicle I got is a 1998 Honda CR-V after I started to be disappointed on VW’s quality. I have no regret on that Honda, and I still have it with reliable 175K mikes.

Like you said, Takanobu Ito took over as president of Honda in 2010 really made the company going to wrong direction. The infamous design with ugly wide band of chrome at front and rear on Acura vehicles starting about that year too. The design turned me off immediately, and no longer interested in any Acura until Honda finally gave up the design in recent years.

I wouldn’t consider any Honda V6 (Ridgeline) since it still uses timing belt as far as I know, not to mention the problematic VCM, the cylinder deactivation. The fact that Honda offers the only V6 in the US with timing belt instead of timing chain, that speaks itself about company’s current attitude.
 
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Texas
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'19 MX-5, '20 CX-5
Nice post about Honda!

I was the Honda fan since I was young riding a Honda 50cc scooter. I loved the design on Honda at the time because it used 4-cycle engine as other major brands were using 2-cycle’s which usually come with blue smoke from exhaust. But for drivability reason I was only interested in German vehicles after I gave up American cars, and was getting cheapest German VW’s for many years. The first new Japanese vehicle I got is a 1998 Honda CR-V after I started to be disappointed on VW’s quality. I have no regret on that Honda, and I still have it with reliable 175K mikes.

Like you said, Takanobu Ito took over as president of Honda in 2010 really made the company going to wrong direction. The infamous design with ugly wide band of chrome at front and rear on Acura vehicles starting about that year too. The design turned me off immediately, and no longer interested in any Acura until Honda finally gave up the design in recent years.

I wouldn’t consider any Honda V6 (Ridgeline) since it still uses timing belt as far as I know, not to mention the problematic VCM, the cylinder deactivation. The fact that Honda offers the only V6 in the US with timing belt instead of timing chain, that speaks itself about company’s current attitude.

That is correct - Honda's J35 V6 engine still uses a timing belt. Realistically, failures are exceedingly rare. Ironically, there have been more timing belt failures after the timing belt was replaced than original timing belts that have failed - I'm not sure if this is due to poor workmanship or lower quality parts. Under normal conditions, you can plan on spending $1,000 every 100K miles for a new water pump and timing belt - not terribly expensive and about the same cost as tires. While I generally prefer a timing chain, I have no personal reservations against the timing belt in Honda's V6.

Honda has had three generations of VCM. The first generation disabled three cylinders (one bank). The second generation disabled either two or three cylinders (some from each bank). The third generation in use since the mid-2010s returned to single-bank operation and has proven reliable. Some owners complain about a noise or vibration in three-cylinder mode, but the root cause is usually a failed motor mount and levels seem to vary from one vehicle to the next. I was only able to detect VCM operation in my 2017 and 2019 Ridgelines if I was paying close attention. It wasn't a bother even though I prefer the mechanical simplicity of fixed-displacement.

My first Honda was also a 50cc two-wheeler - specifically, a 1982 Z50R. The engine was indestructible, although I did manage to shatter second gear. That little bike endured far more abuse than it was ever entitled to. My experience with it eventually lead to the purchase of ~40 other Honda motorcycles and automobiles over the decades.

I never paid much attention to Mazda - especially when they were in bed with Ford. My cousin had a new '90 MX-6 and I remember being very impressed with the quality and features at the time (first vehicle I ever saw with oscillating center A/C vents, an electronically-controlled automatic transmission that could be manually shifted, and a "sport mode"). I had a '94 Escort and '95 Probe that shared some Mazda DNA and were very reliable (both are still on the road today more than a quarter of a century later according to CARFAX - unbelievable for two low-cost vehicles).

It wasn't until I started getting my feet wet in automotive journalism a few years ago and driving dozens of different vehicles each year that Mazda began to capture my attention. The assembly and material quality and fun-to-drive nature were pleasant surprises. The opportunity to drive a few MX-5 Miatas around race tracks, on public roads, and in autocross events led to my purchase of one. I was so impressed by the quality that I looked again to Mazda when I chose to dump my Ridgeline due to a laundry list of problems and ended up with the CX-5 which, so far, has proven to be one of the most trouble-free and enjoyable-to-drive automobiles I've owned.
 
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Virginia
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2021 CX-5 White
About old Hondas, my 19 inch self propelled Honda mover, a close out buy in 1987 because they were moving to 21 inch mowers, is still running, and in the summer, I use it every week. Sure it burns a little oil, but when the weather is warm, one pull and it starts up. When it is cold, it can be 3-5 pulls, but it always starts up. The problem I have is trying to find spare parts such as new solid wheels, which are fine, they are just "bald"
 

Bird-Dog

2017 CX-5 Touring 2020 CX-5 GTR
About old Hondas, my 19 inch self propelled Honda mover, a close out buy in 1987 because they were moving to 21 inch mowers, is still running, and in the summer, I use it every week. Sure it burns a little oil, but when the weather is warm, one pull and it starts up. When it is cold, it can be 3-5 pulls, but it always starts up. The problem I have is trying to find spare parts such as new solid wheels, which are fine, they are just "bald"
Sure. But that 0-60 time... :sleep:

:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 
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‘21 CX5 Sig.
The AWD system of the RDX felt better than the CX5 when pushing it. I could just hammer the throttle on an on ramp and it would just stick. That said I haven’t pushed the CX5 all that hard yet.

However, and I made a separate post about this, the RDX is flaky at best elsewhere. While they now seem to have addressed the limp mode during acceleration issue (what an embarrassment), I have about a dozen other common problems that happened to me on my 2020. Shameful to put out a car like that.

One might (might) just have better luck with reliability on a Jag or LR. Yeah, I said it.

Ok ok I might’ve gone too far there. 😅

A few minor quirks aside (no car is perfect), I am glad that I jumped ship and moved to Mazda. I love driving this thing. It feels a lot more refined than the Acura RDX that was, what, almost $8k more(?).
 
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Texas
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'19 MX-5, '20 CX-5
Indeed - Acura's superior SH-AWD system and, to a slightly lesser degree, Honda's nearly-identical iVTM-4 AWD system offer significantly better performance and handling than Mazda's "better than nothing" AWD system.

With only one clutch, Mazda's AWD system can only send power to the rear axle through an open differential - not to each wheel on command and there's no overdrive so there's no torque vectoring. While accelerating through a hairpin turn, the CX-5's inside tires will spin. In the RDX's overdriven, twin-clutch system, more power is sent to the outside rear wheel which helps create a yaw moment and gives it somewhat of a RWD feel.

When driven leisurely, most drivers would never notice a difference unless they drove both systems back-to-back the same way along the same route. When driven "with spirit", the differences are unmistakable.

I drove my CX-5 in the snow for the first time earlier this week. It was more than capable, but I could instantly feel the difference in AWD systems compared to my Ridglines with iVTM-4. The Mazda's front wheels slipped for a split second before power was sent to the rear. In my Ridgelines, the rear wheels proactively received power preventing front wheel slip from occurring in the first place.

Mazda's AWD system uses open front and rear differentials, so it's really a two-wheel drive system (the front wheel with less traction and the rear wheel with less traction). In order to transfer torque to the wheel with more traction, it has to brake spinning wheel on the opposite side. Honda's/Acura's system can send power to either rear wheel through one or both clutches similar to how a limited-slip or locking differential works without the need to brake the wheel with less traction.

In everyday driving, there's no significant difference to a non-enthusiast. When you drive the snot out it, the CX-5 spins its inside tires and cuts power where the RDX pushes you right on through. To be fair, there should be no need to drive in manner that exploits the differences between the two systems on public roads. :)
 
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Virginia
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2021 CX-5 White
Indeed - Acura's superior SH-AWD system and, to a slightly lesser degree, Honda's nearly-identical iVTM-4 AWD system offer significantly better performance and handling than Mazda's "better than nothing" AWD system.
......

In everyday driving, there's no significant difference to a non-enthusiast. When you drive the snot out it, the CX-5 spins its inside tires and cuts power where the RDX pushes you right on through. To be fair, there should be no need to drive in manner that exploits the differences between the two systems on public roads. :)
I agree with this. Having put the more complex SH-AWD in a 2006 Acura RL through some exercises at a BMW highway safety school, I can say when pushed, especially in the slalom, the Acura RL torque vectoring transformed the car's handling, making me look good even though I have never slalomed before. After about three times, the instructor said well, you have that down pretty well, especially when the guy before me kept spinning out or knocking over the cones. The power to the outer rear wheel really helped direction changes, when your foot was in the accelerator, counter intuitively.

Just as counter intuitively, I had real problems in the wet skidpad, almost always spinning out. Finally I got the feel of incipient front tire traction loss. At one point, the instructor wondered whether the SH-AWD was kicking in as I kept increasing the speed, with the rear outer wheel beginning to do its thing...
 
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CX5 GT-R
Indeed - Acura's superior SH-AWD system and, to a slightly lesser degree, Honda's nearly-identical iVTM-4 AWD system offer significantly better performance and handling than Mazda's "better than nothing" AWD system.

With only one clutch, Mazda's AWD system can only send power to the rear axle through an open differential - not to each wheel on command and there's no overdrive so there's no torque vectoring. While accelerating through a hairpin turn, the CX-5's inside tires will spin. In the RDX's overdriven, twin-clutch system, more power is sent to the outside rear wheel which helps create a yaw moment and gives it somewhat of a RWD feel.

When driven leisurely, most drivers would never notice a difference unless they drove both systems back-to-back the same way along the same route. When driven "with spirit", the differences are unmistakable.

I drove my CX-5 in the snow for the first time earlier this week. It was more than capable, but I could instantly feel the difference in AWD systems compared to my Ridglines with iVTM-4. The Mazda's front wheels slipped for a split second before power was sent to the rear. In my Ridgelines, the rear wheels proactively received power preventing front wheel slip from occurring in the first place.

Mazda's AWD system uses open front and rear differentials, so it's really a two-wheel drive system (the front wheel with less traction and the rear wheel with less traction). In order to transfer torque to the wheel with more traction, it has to brake spinning wheel on the opposite side. Honda's/Acura's system can send power to either rear wheel through one or both clutches similar to how a limited-slip or locking differential works without the need to brake the wheel with less traction.

In everyday driving, there's no significant difference to a non-enthusiast. When you drive the snot out it, the CX-5 spins its inside tires and cuts power where the RDX pushes you right on through. To be fair, there should be no need to drive in manner that exploits the differences between the two systems on public roads. :)
I've not experienced this. Just push the car harder and it digs in. I've done 4-wheel powerslides around corners before and it's very nicely executed in power deliver.

Also, yes, Acuras system slips the tires first, too.


I do like Acura's system better on paper, but I have yet to have a functional complaint about Mazda's, and I bet it will last longer because it's less mechanically involved.
 
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sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
:
Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
I've not experienced this. Just push the car harder and it digs in. I've done 4-wheel powerslides around corners before and it's very nicely executed in power deliver.

Also, yes, Acuras system slips the tires first, too.


I do like Acura's system better on paper, but I have yet to have a functional complaint about Mazda's, and I bet it will last longer because it's less mechanically involved.

I haven't pushed my CX-9 to it's limit in a corner yet, but there was a video review from TheStraightPipes on YouTube for the Mazda3 Turbo, and they basically said the same thing - put your foot into it and it just goes. The fact that Honda/Acura's system is able to make the car feel somewhat like a RWD car is something that cannot be ignored, though. A lot of premium/luxury car buyers prefer the RWD feel, and may stick to Acura/BMW just for that.
 
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Texas
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'19 MX-5, '20 CX-5
I've not experienced this. Just push the car harder and it digs in. I've done 4-wheel powerslides around corners before and it's very nicely executed in power deliver.

Also, yes, Acuras system slips the tires first, too.


I do like Acura's system better on paper, but I have yet to have a functional complaint about Mazda's, and I bet it will last longer because it's less mechanically involved.
Those tests are fun to watch, but their value is questionable since people don't normally drive around with any number of wheels off the ground and nobody drives on rollers with ball bearings that have practically no friction - even wheels on ice have some friction.

If you're driving on such uneven terrain where one or two wheels might lose contact with the driving surface, you need the right tool for the job - a part-time 4WD truck or SUV with locking differentials, solid axles, and a disconnected sway bar - not a pavement princess like a CX-5, RDX, etc. :)
 
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Bird-Dog

2017 CX-5 Touring 2020 CX-5 GTR
The fact that Honda/Acura's system is able to make the car feel somewhat like a RWD car is something that cannot be ignored, though. A lot of premium/luxury car buyers prefer the RWD feel, and may stick to Acura/BMW just for that.
Sorry, but I'm scratching my head on this. A lot of people, maybe most, who buy a luxury car strictly for luxury (or a status statement) wouldn't know the darn difference. And it doesn't explain Audi's popularity or some of the FWD Lexus and Infiniti models.
 
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