Both Compact SUVs Have Much to Offer, But Who Reigns Supreme?
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The 2021 models of the Mazda CX-5 and Nissan Rogue are contenders for the best compact SUV. Due to the all-new 2021 Rogue's redesigned platform and the latest in tech, safety, and comfort, the Rogue presents significant competition to what the Mazda CX-5 has offered for years - luxury with an affordable price tag attached. 
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On the outside, the CX-5 is far prettier. Mazda's latest design language looks as good on the SUV as it does on the MX-5 Miata. The LED headlights across the lineup are alluring, the various grille finishes are show-stopping, and the 17-19-inch alloy wheels fill the arches superbly. 
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The Rogue lives up to its name, comparatively, with a relatively chunky V-Motion grille and split headlights that give the Rogue the impression of size. A similar array of wheel options and some rugged body cladding look good, but overall, it's a far bulkier design that lacks the Mazda's finesse.
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Both vehicles are premium specimens thanks to the abundance of soft leather seats, stitched leather on the dash, and wood-look trim, as well as the stylish layout of both cabins. The gloss trim in the Rogue attracts fingerprints more than the Mazda's finishes. Both seat five occupants, and both are supremely comfortable. In terms of space, both provide similar accommodation for all occupants with more than 39" of headroom. The Rogue has a couple of inches more legroom up front at 43.3", but in the back, the CX-5 comes out king by more than an inch at 39.6".
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No modern vehicle can have a hope to top the sales charts if safety and connectivity aren't at the forefront of design. Both the Rogue and CX-5 deliver. Across the CX-5 range, you'll find radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Upper trims get more still, with front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera, and driver attention alert. The Rogue delivers a similar suite of assists, but at the higher end of the spectrum, you get traffic sign recognition and ProPILOT Assist, a semi-autonomous driving system for use on freeways and in traffic.
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In the infotainment sector, every CX-5 model gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen for 2021, with full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, albeit with four speakers on the base Sport. Up top, a Bose 10-speaker setup and SiriusXM integration are included. Meanwhile, the Rogue gets an eight-inch screen by default with a nine-incher on upper trims. It has much of the same functionality, but on higher-spec derivatives, the CarPlay is wireless and there's a Wi-Fi hotspot.
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Comparing base engines, both autos seem well matched. Under the hood of each is a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine, outputting 181 horsepower/181 lb-ft of torque in the Rogue and a similar 187 hp/186 lb-ft in the Mazda. Both can be paired with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but while the Rogue uses a CVT transmission to achieve combined fuel consumption estimates of 30 mpg, the Mazda favors a traditional six-speed which drives better but returns a lower 28 mpg combined.
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Verdict: While the Nissan Rogue is indeed substantial, it lacks in the style department and is far less fun to drive than the CX-5. Life is short, don't drive a vehicle that won't make you excited to get behind the wheel. 
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Come to McDonald Mazda West and test drive the CX-5 for yourself and experience luxury that won't break the bank.
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