Comparison of my new '15 CX-5 GS and my '12 Sorento EX

So I've had my CX-5 GS AWD for a few days now, I've put a few hundred km on it now (almost 1 tank of gas) and I've got a decent feel for the interior, the drivetrain, the exterior, the gadgets and everything else... So it's time to put up my comparison with the other SUV I own that I've driven for 3 years and 225,000km (135,000 miles) and now gave to SWMBO - a 2012 Kia Sorento EX with UVO system.
So first up price -
My walk out of the dealership price with the CX-5 GS AWD with added remote starter, sat radio, navigation, all weather floor mats and cargo mat and cargo cover, lifetime rust protection, after 13% HST, etc all inclusive - $37,980 CDN (cash purchase - Jan 2015).
Same deal for the Sorento - 2.5L 4cyl, AWD, pushbutton start, backup camera, moon roof, etc - very similarly equipped to the CX-5 except no Navi and no remote start - after 13% HST etc all inclusive - $36,400 CDN (cash purchase - Jan 2012)

Second up - power and drive train
I would say acceleration between the two feels quite similar. The Kia isn't as twitchy on the gas pedal at red lights, but the normal day-to-day driving feels pretty similar. Sometimes I feel like I have to stab the CX-5's pedal harder to get it to wind up the rev's but when it does it's pretty zippy. Suspension feels a bit tighter in the CX-5 over bumps - but neither of them ride like an Accord or a Camry. AWD - I'll give the nod to the Kia - it's got a locking transfer case and it works great - I can drive through 18 inches of heavy wet snow plowing it with my front bumper and still go - also has hill descent system, etc. The CX-5 felt a little more troubled driving through 10" of snow in a grassy yard - more stumbling trying to find a wheel that gripped. Transmission - the CX-5 shifts feel smoother, but I prefer to push to upshift in sport mode (Kia) rather than pull (CX-5) - pulling toward me seems like it should be a downshift in a slushbox, after all for the last 30 years "1" on a AT was always closest to the driver and "D" or "High" was furthest away. I can't speak to fuel economy yet. My Sorento runs between 8L/100k and 8.5L/100k on the highway - 25-28 US MPG. The first tank on the CX-5 was terrible but I wasn't on the highway much, I was zipping around in town. idling in the driveway programming stuff, etc - I got about 12L/100k (20 us mpg) - we'll re-visit this later - after break-in, normal driving resumes, etc.

Third - exterior
I like the looks of the CX-5 far better. The Sorento isn't a bad looking vehicle but it's got odd ridges in the hood that hide the front corners from driver's view and I always feel like I'll bump the car next to me in a parking lot. Much better view in the CX-5. The headlights, front fascia, fog lights, hood, roof line, door line, dual exhaust tips, and hatch look "better" on the CX-5 in my opinion. The CX-5 is definitely smaller on the exterior - I can enter/exit my garage without folding the mirror and I don't have to pull in as far to the back wall to shut the door. I like the alloy wheels from Mazda better. Tire/wheel size is extremely similar (225-65r17 on CX-5, 235-65r17 on Sorento) - close enough that I'll be using the snow's I bought for the Sorento last fall on the CX-5 next winter.

Fourth - Instrument cluster
Very slight edge to the Sorento here - mechanical gauge for engine temperature is great, orange illumination is cool, trip/fuel/mpg computer has same functionality, mechanical fuel gauge slightly more noticeable - I seem to feel like the little "trip computer" area on the CX-5 doesn't catch my eye as much and I was below 1/4 tank before I noticed the gas gauge had gone down a good chunk. On the other hand, I like having the reset/scroll on the steering wheel of the CX-5 - that's cool. Sorento has dual zone electronic climate control - I would have had to spring for GT trim in CX-5 to get that. Available on mid-level Sorento trim. Sorento not only has back-up camera but audio "beeps" for parking assistance - nice to have that audio alert.

Fifth - Interior/seating/space
Big win to the Sorento on this one - a little unfair as it's a bigger vehicle - but it's positively cavernous inside compared to the CX-5. I've got a two layer storage area under the cigarette lighter area - one on top to set wallet/keys/etc. on, and a lower one "hidden" below it with side entry to put iPod/Cell Phone/etc all out of sight. The armrest storage is big enough to hold a full size roll of paper towels, a full size box of tissues, a small toiletry kit, and the tray on top will hold a spare pair of sunglasses, a spare emergency cell phone, a crapload of change, pens and pencils, etc.. I filled the entire CX-5 arm rest console with just the stuff from my top tray on the Sorento. The seats are pretty equally comfortable, the seat heat in the Sorento is way hotter - but most of the time - TOO hot - I have to turn it off after 5 minutes or I get swamp-ass. The CX-5 on high takes a while to even be felt (more than 5 minutes). There's WAY more cargo space in the Sorento - the floor in the cargo area is two section removable, one is a giant open compartment, the other is a small sectioned one that contains jack and toolkit in one part, booster cables, spare cargo net, and work gloves and flashlight in the other area. There's almost no room at all under the floor of the CX-5 compartment - they put the spare in there rather than suspending it from underneath - I fit in the work gloves, flashlight, and booster cables - and that was it. Back seat and front seat passenger room is similar in both - but the Sorento offers "torso height" adjustable A/C vents in the B pillars that are connected to the dash vents - back seat passengers really appreciate that in the summer.

Sixth - Infotainment
Well I like that I could add TomTom navi without having to buy the most expensive GT trim of the CX-5 (I would have had to buy the SX trim of the Sorento. Ouch. Well over $40K CDN) - and the satellite and FM radio works fine in the CX-5 - but other than that - Kia's UVO for the win - even though it's 3 years older - much easier to navigate menus, faster and more responsive, it remembers the iPod (Unless you leave the ipod in the car parked so long the battery in it dies - then it still does the fresh read) - for anyone who wants a quick "what's it do" - - I've not tried any sort of text messaging features in either car - I even try to avoid voice calls while driving - I don't like the distractions - so I can't comment there (I use a Nexus 5 as my phone - theoretically it should work). Pandora seems to work "ok" in the CX-5 - but sometimes it's slow to start piping the audio back from the phone. (Yes I'm in Canada and yes I use Pandora and you can too - just google it). I haven't seriously "cranked" the volume in the CX-5 yet (and I don't have the GT's premium audio system - just normal GS audio) so I can't really make a claim for which one has the best clear "loud" sound - but I'm in my 40s - I'm getting a little old for trying to make myself go deaf. In the long run, probably should have waited for the '16 CX-5 for the new "3 style" infotainment system - but since 99% of the time I just want satellite and FM radio and the other 1% voice phone calls, I'll probably be fine with the current system.

Seventh - Handling
Hands down the CX-5 is tighter on turns, better on the highway on/off ramps, and more maneuverable in the city. On the freeway at 75mph I still have to get used to the twitchyness of the CX-5 - the Sorento's a bit more muted, I could take my hands off the wheel and it would just track straight for a mile on the freeway without even a nudge on it, no wandering or jitters. I feel like the CX-5 wants my hands on the wheel all the time - that there might be some bump steer over expansion joints or due to tracking in road grooves - but there's also more feedback so I can "feel" the road conditions better. I think I'll know if I'm losing traction in rain or snow more than I did in the Sorento - I would sometimes drive through snow slush at 60mph and realize later that "you know I don't think I was actually driving for those few hundred yards - it was just sorta tracking on it's own". We're having 6 inches of snow tonight and I'll be doing my 75 mile commute to work in the morning - that'll be my first real highway test of the CX-5 in the snow. I don't have snow tires on it this winter - there's only 6 weeks of winter left and the brand new all seasons still have all their tread left. I'll wait to put snowshoes on her next November. All in all - I think it'll be way more "fun" to drive the zoom-zoom CX-5 day to day, but on a 600 mile road trip - I might still like the Sorento a bit better (I think it's a little quieter at 75mph [120km/hr] as well)

Eighth - Overall impressions
Two very similar vehicles that couldn't be more different. Price is comparable, power is comparable, 6 speed auto sport transmission is comparable, AWD systems are comparable, seating for 5 is comparable, chassis layout is comparable, driver controls are comparable, fuel economy should be slightly better on the CX-5 in the long run, unlimited KM 3/5 year warranty on CX-5 was a big plus for someone who drives 60,000km (36,000 miles) a year (hope I don't need it much though!), but it would seem overall that the interior designers at Kia have a huge leg-up over Mazda (it feels as well thought out as a Lexus or Acura), while the exterior designers at Mazda have a leg-up (it looks as good or better than a BMW or Audi).

If anyone else owns both of these vehicles (or similar years of both - 2011-2014 Sorento, 2013-2015 CX-5) and would like to chime in on their comparison of the two and how they feel - I'd love to hear someone else's feedback. I'll probably come back and update this once I've got a few thousand miles on the CX-5 so I can bring in anything else I find I like/dislike in comparison. Unlike comparing your current g/f to your ex g/f (highly frowned upon) - I think having a chance to really do good head-to-head vehicle comparisons can certainly help perspective buyers down the road.

Oh and final thoughts - a list of things my $36,000 MY2000 BMW 328 had that still are hard to find on many cars OEM (CX-5, Kia, etc) and I would love to see on a CX-5 someday:
- Remote window down & sunroof open (press and hold unlock) and up & sunroof close (press and hold lock) control from key fob
- 3 memory position 12 way power seats
- Soft-open and soft lined glovebox so stuff didn't fall out or rattle
- soft slow illuminate/darken of interior lighting so as to not shock the eyes in the dark.
Last edited:


Zoomer not a Boomer
2016 MAZDA CX-5 GT AWD with TECH PKG / i-ActivSense
Morning Chris,

Thanks so very much for the detailed report, as someone that's been waiting
for the new CX-5 I found it a wonderful read. So many great points of interest,
and I'll look forward to hearing more from you as you get more mile, errrr Kilometers
on your New CX-5.

Thanks again for all your Hard Work and Time spent.

Take Care,