In a sea of mid-size SUVs, we put two of them head-to-head—The 2023 Nissan Murano vs Mazda CX-5—which one will sink and which one will swim?
With mid-size SUVs taking over the auto industry it can be hard to know just what’s setting one apart from the other. The Nissan Murano and Mazda CX-5 are two options that have paid their dues in this crowded market, but is one any better than the other? We look at the 2023 Nissan Murano and the 2023 Mazda CX-5 to help you decide which is the better pick.
All 2023 Nissan Muranos are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Front wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is an option for any trim. Both configurations utilize a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Murano gets an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel drive option does not reduce either rating.
Wondering how you can fare better at the pump? Check out our article, How to Get Better Gas Mileage where we take a look at some newer technologies that will help you do just that.
The 2023 Mazda CX-5 comes with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 187-horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Turbo models come with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The base 2.5-liter engine gets an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, while the turbocharged engine is rated slightly lower with 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
See our Car Drivetrains and Powertrain Explained article to go more in depth about what’s under the hood.
The Murano has plenty of power for daily driving, accelerating with ease when summoned. The CVT does a good job of delivering consistent power without noticeable gear changes, but you will notice some engine noise with hard accelerations. Where the Murano really excels is on road trips, where the powertrain does it’s work quietly making for an enjoyable drive. The suspension does a good job of dampening road imperfections to deliver a smooth ride. The steering is stable on the highway, but you won’t get much feedback on curvier roads. The Murano has a maximum towing capacity of 1500 pounds.
The base engine of the Mazda CX-5 does an adequate job of accelerating from a stop around town, but you’ll really notice its lack of power when passing or merging onto the highway. Accelerating with the turbocharged engine is much quicker and maneuvering on the highway is a breeze. You will find that the ride quality and handling of the CX-5 is at the top amongst its rivals. Corners can be taken at a decent speed without losing control thanks to its precise steering, while road imperfections are absorbed for a smooth and quiet ride. The CX-5 has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.
The Nissan Murano boasts comfortable roomy seats in both the front and back as well as standard dual-zone climate control. While the design of the cabin is a little dated, all models still come equipped with up-to-date technology featuring standard navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM radio. Its cargo space comes up a little short with only 32.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 67 cubic feet with all the seats folded flat.
The Mazda CX-5 has an upscale feel thanks to quality materials used throughout the cabin. The front seats are comfortable and accommodating for all heights, but the rear seats leave much to be desired on long trips. Although they recline, the flat bench can become uncomfortable. The CX-5 comes up even shorter than the Murano in cargo space with only 29.1 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 59.3 cubic feet of space with all the seats folded flat. The CX-5 also has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as satellite radio on higher trims.
For more spacious options to accommodate those busy weekends see our article, The Best SUVs for Families.
The Nissan Murano comes in four trim options: S, SV, SL and Platinum. The entry-level S trim comes standard with keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, and four USB ports.
All Muranos come standard with a suite of advanced driving aids including forward collision mitigation, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic braking, lane departure mitigation, and rear parking sensors. The SV trim adds simulated leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, remote engine start, heated mirrors, LED fog lights, roof rails, front parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.
The SL trim adds leather upholstery, heated rear seats, driver’s seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, navigation, a hands-free liftgate, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, 20-inch wheels, a surround-view camera system, and an available panoramic sunroof. The range-topping Platinum trim gets upgraded leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, a power-adjustable steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and NissanConnect emergency notification services.
The Mazda CX-5 comes in eight trim options: S, Select, Preferred, Carbon Edition, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo and Turbo Signature. The S trim comes with fabric seats, leather-covered wheel, manual seat adjustment, push-to-start, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, automated LED lights, and 17-inch alloy rims.
The Mazda CX-5 Select trim adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, advanced keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear privacy glass, and auto-leveling headlights. The Preferred trim adds leather upholstery, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a six-way power-adjustable passenger’s seat, and a moonroof.
The Carbon edition gets 19-inch wheels, a unique black grille, Polymetal Gray Metallic paint, and available red leather upholstery. The Premium trim adds heated exterior mirrors, paddle shifters, and LED taillights. Premium Plus adds ventilated front seats, a power liftgate, automatic power-folding exterior mirrors, and a windshield wiper deicer.
The Turbo trim provides a turbo engine, while the top-level Turbo Signature trim comes with Nappa leather seats, wood accents, a black cloth headliner, an auto-dimming mirror, body-colored wheel arches, and Signature emblems.
When looking at the Nissan Murano vs. Mazda CX-5 with starting prices around $35K and $28K, respectively, one might think it’s a no-brainer. Go for the cheaper one, of course! But upon comparing engine power and performance, we’d say they’re on an even playing ground where cost is concerned.
We like that all trims of the Murano are powered by a V-6 engine. With the CX-5 a turbocharged engine is only an option at the upper trim levels, and even then, it still doesn’t have the umph that the Murano does. Add to that the Murano’s nicer, more comfortable seats and greater cargo space, the scale has been tipped for sure. Murano, there’s a reason you’ve been around for 20 years, and our vote goes to you.