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2017 Kia Sportage vs Mazda CX-5

2017 Kia Sportage vs Jeep Cherokee

If you like stylish compact crossovers but don't want to pay extra for something from a prestige luxury brand, you'll be hard pressed to find two more tempting models than the 2017 Kia Sportage and the Mazda CX-5. Both have recently been redesigned, so let's take a closer look at these two to see which one comes out on top.

2017 Kia Sportage vs Mazda CX-5

Styling

Let's get something straight--the 2017 Kia Sportage isn't the prettiest compact crossover you'll find in the market. The previous model may have been able to lay claim to that title, but this version is more rugged, macho, and aggressive than its predecessor. The sheet metal isn't hugely different, but the front fascia is where all the action is happening with unique light arrangements and a very modern grille.

The Mazda CX-5 is almost impossible to distinguish from the model it replaced, but that's not a bad thing by any means. Whereas the Kia is all about the front fascia, it's the profile of the Mazda that makes the biggest contribution to its overall good looks. The Mazda is easier to fall in love with at first sight, so we'll give it the nod here.

Interior

Despite being a relatively small compact crossover, it would be harsh to criticize the amount of space inside the Sportage. You get about what you'd expect for a model of these proportions, but the quality and style is what you'd expect from something costing considerably more. Noise reduction has been a particular focus for improvement, and the results are extremely impressive.

Even though the numbers say that the Mazda CX-5 has a lot more passenger volume than the 2017 Sportage with 103.6 cu.-ft., compared to the Kia's 98.6 cu.-ft., it's hard to see where that space actually is. The real life differences are so small that it's hard to believe it would sway anyone towards the Mazda and away from the Sportage. The quality has improved this year, but you'd expect more for the additional money you lay out for the CX-5 so this round goes to the Sportage.

Safety

Despite what people often think, crossovers aren't necessarily safer than similar-sized sedans. The Sportage is pretty good though, with a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, while the feds at the NHTSA give it a full five star rating for overall safety. It did only get four stars in a couple of the individual NHTSA crash tests, but it's still a pretty safe compact crossover.

The Mazda CX-5 only has what is a relatively rare four star rating for overall safety. Somewhat strangely, the IIHS has recently awarded the CX-5 its most coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating. Regardless, that worrying four star NHTSA rating gives this round to the Sportage.

Power and Performance

The standard 2.4-liter inline-four engine in the 2017 Kia Sportage is more than adequate for most buyers, but if you want a little more power, Kia offers the excellent 2.0-liter turbo-four that produces and impressive 204 horsepower. All-wheel drive is available with every model in the range, and the drive and handling is as good as or better than anything in its class.

A 2.2-liter turbodiesel is on the way for the Mazda, but at the moment the only available powerplant is a 2.5-liter inline-four. It develops 187 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque which is pretty similar to the base engine in the Kia, which means there's nothing to match the 2.0T in the Sportage. This round is another win for the South Korean contender.

Learn More about the Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage vs Jeep Cherokee

The Mazda CX-5 is a very highly rated model that does everything very well. However, the lack of a more powerful engine option at the moment, an interior that's not as good as it could be, and a higher starting MSRP than the Sportage definitely leads us to cast our vote for the 2017 Kia Sportage.