Compact SUVs are now the second-hottest-selling type of car in America. Drivers love their balance of livable space for people and cargo with a small footprint for maneuverability and reasonable prices. The Kia Sportage is one of the newest on the market, completely redesigned for 2023. The Mazda CX-5 is one of the oldest but beloved for its sharp looks and sharper handling.

Let’s compare them to help find the right one for you.

2023 Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage has always been a feature-rich entry at a fair price. For 2023, Kia has given it a beautiful redesign from the wheels up. It uses a 187-horsepower 4-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available at every trim level but is only standard on the X-Line AWD, X-Pro, and X-Pro Prestige. Kia also builds a Sportage Hybrid and a Sportage Plug-in Hybrid with up to 34 miles of all-electric range. This comparison considers only gas-powered versions because Mazda has no equivalent to Kia’s hybrids. Pricing starts at $25,990, plus $1,295 for delivery.

Kia Sportage Highlights

Gorgeous inside and out: Kia designers outdid themselves with the all-new 2023 Sportage. Outside, it’s handsome, particularly with the optional two-tone paint schemes. Inside, it’s sleek, with the driver’s instrument screen and central touchscreen mounted in a single housing, so they look like one wide, curved screen.

Lots of rear seat and cargo space: The Sportage has one of the roomiest rear seats in its class. Second-row passengers get their own USB ports. It also boasts 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats — a best-in-class figure. A trick floor lets you create more space by lowering the floor in the cargo area to fit in taller items.

Well-designed safety aids: Most 2023 compact SUVs carry an extensive set of driver assistance systems, but they’re not all created equal. Kia’s Drive Wise suite includes a Highway Driving Assist that feels as smooth as a human driver when adjusting speed to maintain a set distance to the car ahead and keep it centered in its lane. The Sportage also touts a clever blind spot monitor that displays the lane next to you on the driver’s instrument panel when you signal a lane change.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Kia Sportage models for sale near you.

2023 Mazda CX-5

2023 Mazda CX-5 Turbo Signature in red

Mazda vehicles are known for two things — fantastic handling and premium looks inside and out despite their reasonable price tags. The 2023 CX-5 fits the bill. It offers a choice of engines: a 187-horsepower 4-cylinder or a 227-horsepower turbocharged powerplant. Both send power through the same 6-speed transmission, and every CX-5 is AWD. But if you’re looking for a true off-roader, Mazda’s new CX-50 is a better trail companion at this same size. The 2023 CX-5 starts at $26,700, plus $1,275 for delivery.

Mazda CX-5 Highlights

Sharp handling road manners: Every compact SUV has its strengths, and the CX-5’s own shine in the twisty stuff. Mazda does steering balance better than most mainstream automakers. Our test driver calls it “composed, precise, agile, and involving.”

Turbocharged engine option: Affordable compact SUVs tend to have around 180 horsepower, give or take 20. A 227-horsepower option sets the CX-5 apart. It makes Mazda’s small SUV a bit pricier (the cheapest way to get it is the $36,850 2.5 Turbo model), but segment stalwarts like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V don’t have an answer for it.

Standard AWD: Mazda has made AWD standard in its 2023 SUVs. Most automakers at this price point charge extra for it.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Mazda CX-5 models for sale near you.


The Sportage and CX-5 are both great looking, as not all compact SUVs are. They’re also both handsome inside, though the Kia has a more modern design theme, and the Mazda has more of a classic luxury car look when equipped with leather upholstery. Barely $700 separates them.


The Kia Sportage is all-new for 2023, quickly earning a reputation as one of the most well-rounded vehicles on the road. It’s big for a compact car, handsome inside and out, and packed with the latest technology. The Mazda CX-5 shows its age but is still the choice for those who love to drive. It handles like something more expensive, offers standard AWD, and is available with a turbocharged engine more powerful than most competitors.


2023 Kia Sportage 2023 Mazda CX-5
Starting Price $25,990 $26,700
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 187 hp @ 6,100 rpm 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 178 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 25 city/32 highway/28 combined mpg (FWD) 24 city/30 highway/26 combined (4-cylinder engine)
Also Available AWD, Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine w/ 227 horsepower
Basic Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 108.5 inches 106.2 inches
Overall Length 183.5 inches 180.1 inches
Width 73.4 inches 83.3 inches
Turning Diameter 38.6 feet 36.0 feet
Headroom, Front 39.6 inches 39.7 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.4 inches 39.0 inches
Legroom, Front 41.4 inches 41.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 41.3 inches 39.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.5 inches 57.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.6 inches 54.8 inches
Cargo Volume Rear Seats Up 39.6 cubic feet 30.8 cubic feet
Cargo Volume Rear Seats Down 69.3 cubic feet 59.3 cubic feet


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