With mainstream automakers charity luxury-laden trims while status automobile brands try to democratize luxury, we orderly 4 comparison tests to see who does posh improved for a capped cost of $40,000.
The birth of Motor Trend’s $40,000 plea lies with a 2017 Mazda CX-5. We were tender with a compress crossover from a impulse we laid eyes on it, and when a entirely polished indication incited adult during a SUV of a Year foe final August, mixed editors (myself included) remarked on a intensity to plea oppulance models rather than a mainstream competitors.
Now we consider that potential.
The defender of a compress oppulance crossover genre in this foe is a 2018 Lexus NX 300, another automobile that agreeably astounded us during a spin during SUV of a Year 4 years ago—also earning a place among a finalists.
Just bashful of $37,000 to start and $40,463 as tested, a NX lands usually above a normal new automobile transaction price. Meanwhile, a CX-5 in tip Grand Touring trim comes in during usually underneath $32,000 before options and $33,810 as tested. That gave a Mazda a lowest cost in a margin of 8 and also supposing a widest cost opening between dual competitors in a tests. Granted, we could choice a Mazda adult to a Lexus’ price point, yet some-more on that later.
Dimensionally, a vehicles are many closer; a Lexus is somewhat incomparable on a outside, yet a Mazda rides on a longer wheelbase and offers some-more rear-seat and load space.
Much of what creates oppulance interest to your senses is formed on initial impressions, and both of these vehicles make crafty ones. Approaching a Mazda, we can’t assistance yet be struck by a premium-grade looks. The extraneous pattern is purify and sophisticated, an dusk robe compared to a Lexus’ bar dress. The Lexus’ many chisels and cuts are extroverted and unmistakable. We consider it’s a best focus of a brand’s pattern denunciation on an SUV, yet we wouldn’t call it pretty.
Getting behind a circle has a matching effect. The Mazda’s interior is elementary and sexy with a hastily two-tone tone scheme. Clearly, Mazda spent genuine income in here: genuine steel trim; soft, movable leather; abounding soft-touch plastics; contrariety stitching; and endurable fake-wood trim.
The base-model Lexus, meanwhile, plays a crafty visible pretence by strategically requesting a costly materials in places that pull your eye divided from a decontented stuff. Imitation leather, that is good adequate to dope we into meditative it’s a genuine thing, adorns a seats, steering wheel, and arm rests, and it’s set off by contrariety stitching. Even a silver-hued cosmetic trim employs a satin finish that looks expensive. All of this orderly distracts from a core stack’s rapids of plastic, not to discuss a reduce doorway panels that seem improved matched to a Toyota Yaris. But how mostly do we demeanour down there?
Functionally, a Lexus suffers setbacks, as well. The blueprint of a controls on a core smoke-stack creates no sense, and half a functions are tranquil by a disgusting touchpad-operated infotainment system—which stays distracting even to someone who’s been regulating it for years. The seating position is really high, that many drivers appreciate, yet a steering circle is so distant divided even during full prolongation that we have to throttle adult lurch and pedals to strech it comfortably. The chair itself, during least, is utterly comfortable.
We find a Mazda’s blueprint many some-more acceptable yet still not perfect. The control blueprint is some-more normal and ergonomic, save a rotary controller for a infotainment system, that is so distant rearward on a core console that it requires an awkward, gnarled-wrist reach. The shade itself is touch-sensitive, a good choice to a knob, yet it’s a prolonged reach, and a shade is tiny by today’s standards. The full-color head-up display, by contrast, is a reward touch. The seat, though, is harder and agree than we’d like.
Firing a engine and streamer out for a drive, a initial thing that strikes we is how still a Mazda is. Isolation from a outward universe is a oppulance hallmark, and Mazda has done it a priority. Indeed, requesting a professional-grade sound scale to both vehicles returned startling results: Cruising during 65 mph, a normal ambient sound in any vehicle’s cabin is identical. When’s a final time we got in a mainstream automobile that was as still as a oppulance car? The Lexus does have a slight advantage, though, as it is quieter underneath full-throttle acceleration, , yet you’ll do a lot reduction of that than cruising on a freeway.
As you’re driving, you’ll notice a dual crossovers have graphic pushing personalities. In a experience, a complicated oppulance shopper equates a grade of sportiness with luxury, and a Mazda has many some-more degrees than a Lexus. There’s a levity and liveliness to a approach a Mazda drives, responding immediately and uniformly to your inputs. It can satisfy smiles even in peaceful bends. The engine is generally well-matched to a vehicle, yet it could use a small some-more torque on a bottom end, and a delivery shifts as uniformly and smartly as that of a Lexus. The trade-off is a firmer ride, yet it’s a inestimable one.
The Lexus, by contrast, feels complicated in all it does. The engine surges when we step on a gas, as if mustering a strength to pull a automobile forward. You need to pull a stop pedal harder than approaching to delayed as fast as you’d like. It leans some-more in corners than that sporty demeanour promises and goes over bumps like it’s entirely installed down even when empty. Still, a engine is well-spoken and manageable in a approach that will make we forget it’s turbocharged, and a delivery is spot-on. The float is softer, as befits a handling. In other words, it befits those who find a some-more classical oppulance experience.
But your senses can deceive, and here a exam numbers don’t taunt with a pushing experience. At a exam track, a slower-feeling Lexus is indeed substantially, surprisingly quicker in a true line and needs usually somewhat longer to stop notwithstanding being a heavier vehicle. Its straight-line advantage also helps it post a somewhat quicker figure-eight outcome than a Mazda, yet a aloft parallel g’s available in a Mazda pronounce to a doing prowess. If your roads are straight, you’ll be quicker in a Lexus, yet if they’re winding or if we usually suffer driving, you’ll wish a Mazda.
That’s you, then, yet what of your passengers? Taller riders will conclude a Mazda’s higher headroom front and generally rear, where a chair is lower. They give adult a bit of legroom adult front to a Lexus yet benefit almost some-more in a rear. The tangible behind chair of a Lexus is some-more peaceful once we stand adult onto it—making certain to watch your conduct on a approach in. Both vehicles’ behind seats recline, yet usually a Mazda’s are heated.
Speaking of features, it’s generally a given a some-more we spend over a bottom price, a some-more you’ll get. Surprisingly, though, a entry-trim Lexus is sincerely well-equipped for a price. Our tester has exhilarated and cooled front seats, active journey control, a apartment of crash-avoidance technology, a moonroof, parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, and a energy tailgate—and still came in usually over a $40,000 cost top as tested .
To that considerable facilities list, though, a Mazda adds navigation (albeit like a Garmin from 10 years ago), exhilarated behind seats, a head-up display, and a significantly better-sounding stereo. Neither automobile came versed with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Both will offer CarPlay soon, yet usually Mazda has committed to charity Android Auto.
Sometimes a many critical underline of all, however, is a ability to take all your things with you. Here, a Lexus is during a motionless disadvantage. Despite being incomparable in each outmost dimension, it has small some-more than half a load space of a Mazda behind a second row. Lowering a behind seats creates a dual scarcely estimable behind a initial row, yet to do so in a Lexus you’ll have to go around to a side doors while a Mazda has recover handles in a load area.
Most other times, time itself is a biggest luxury. The reduction of it spent during a gas station, a better. You’ll expected see a siphon a bit reduction mostly with a Lexus notwithstanding it being turbocharged. The dual offer scarcely matching EPA-estimated fuel economy, with a Mazda claiming a 1-mpg advantage opposite a board. In a Real MPG testing, though, a Mazda struggles in city pushing and excels in highway driving; a Lexus is unchanging in a city and improved than advertised on a highway. Per a testing, a Lexus’ total fuel economy is noticeably better.
Some contend time is money, yet income is indeed money. In further to a squeeze price, you’re going to catch costs in ownership, including repairs, slight maintenance, registration fees, insurance, and fuel. Then, when it comes time to sell, you’ll have to face a produce of depreciation.
Per information collected by a partner IntelliChoice, you’re going to come out forward with a Mazda over 5 years of ownership. Much of this owes to a reduce squeeze cost and subsequently reduce financing costs, yet IntelliChoice predicts reduce word and upkeep costs, as well. The Mazda’s residual value after 5 years is also surprisingly tighten to that of a Lexus—which is generally deliberate a attention bullion customary and was a top of all 8 vehicles we evaluated for this test.
In what was by distant a closest preference of these 4 comparison tests, this is what it came down to: money. The tangible vehicles are so uniformly matched that if they cost a same, we competence suggest a Lexus for a badge interest and white-glove play diagnosis alone. That’s distant from a case, though.
As they sit, there’s a $6,653 cost opening between a two, and that’s unfit to ignore. You could hit a options off a Lexus and get it down to a $3,170 gap, that is some-more savoury yet with reduction things to uncover for it. Speaking of stuff, we can’t forget that a Lexus is front-wheel expostulate while a Mazda is all-wheel drive. Making things fair, you’d need to put another $1,400 on a Lexus’ window sticker, opening a opening behind adult to scarcely $5,000. At a all-wheel-drive NX 300’s $38,380 starting price, we could have a CX-5 Grand Touring entirely installed with each appendage Mazda offers, right down to a locking projection nuts.
When it comes right down to it, a opening of some-more than $6,500 for dual equally matched vehicles is usually too far-reaching to bridge. With a grade to that vehicles can vary, it’s not mostly we can contend we can get a same or improved for less, yet if you’re cross-shopping a Mazda CX-5 and Lexus NX 300, we positively can.
Mazda won this $40,000 battle, yet we competence have your possess priorities as distant as unsentimental wants and needs. So for those still on a blockade …
Get a Mazda if you:
- Like light, sporty handling
- Need second-row room
- Need some-more load space
- Want cheaper tenure costs
- Need all-wheel drive
- Seek value for money
Get a Lexus if you:
- Want discerning acceleration
- Like classical oppulance automobile ride
- Want assertive design
- Relish play pampering
- Seek a “arrival” factor
Read a shutting thoughts on all 4 luxury-versus-mainstream comparison tests here!
Read a other comparison tests right here!
- 2018 Audi A4 Ultra Premium vs. 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Touring
- 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL TSI vs 2018 Volvo XC60 T5
- 2018 Cadillac ATS 2.0T vs. 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost
2018 Lexus NX 300
2017 Mazda CX-5 AWD (Grand Touring)
Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head
I-4, alum block/head
DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
121.9 cu in/1,998 cc
151.9 cu in/2,488 cc
POWER (SAE NET)
235 hp @ 4,800 rpm
187 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)
258 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm
186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR
Struts, curl springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, curl springs, anti-roll bar
Struts, curl springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, curl springs, anti-roll bar
BRAKES, F; R
12.9-in vented disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS
11.7-in vented disc; 11.9-in disc, ABS
7.0 x 17-in expel aluminum
7.0 x 19-in expel aluminum
225/65R17 102H (M+S) Dunlop Grandtrek ST30
225/55R19 99V (M+S) Toyo A36
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT
182.3 x 73.6 x 64.8 in
179.1 x 72.5 x 65.3 in
WEIGHT DIST, F/R
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R
CARGO VOLUME, BEH 1ST/2ND ROW
54.6/17.7 cu ft
59.6/30.9 cu ft
ACCELERATION TO MPH
PASSING, 45-65 MPH
15.3 sec @ 91.0 mph
16.3 sec @ 84.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH
0.78 g (avg)
0.81 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT
27.8 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)
28.0 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH
SOUND LEVEL† @ FULL THROTTLE
27.7 sones (max)
29.9 sones (max)
SOUND LEVEL† @ 65 MPH STEADY
16.3 sones (avg)
16.3 sones (avg)
PRICE AS TESTED
8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, motorist knee, front-passenger chair pan
6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
4 yrs/50,000 miles
3 yrs/36,000 miles
6 yrs/70,000 miles
5 yrs/60,000 miles
4 yrs/Unlimited miles
3 yrs/36,000 miles
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY
153/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
147/116 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB
† sones (est) from dBA; a sone is a linear magnitude of intensity that some-more closely corresponds to tellurian knowledge