The Kia Sportage compact SUV just came off a full redesign, while the Mazda CX-50 debuted only last year, making these two rivals among the freshest entries in the segment.

The new-look Sportage found itself slotted between perennial favorites Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 on our best compact SUV rankings, with the CX-50 not far behind.

Let’s look at how these two contenders continue stacking up against one another.

2024 Kia Sportage

Inside and out, the Kia Sportage takes a tech-focused approach to its design. LEDs dot the exterior in the form of angular automatic headlights triangulated toward the grille, daytime running lights, and available front-facing fog lights and turn indicators on the shells of the side mirrors. 

Turning to the interior, a full-color digital instrument panel and central touchscreen greet the driver, and in all but the base LX, these displays merge under a single pane of glass as dual 12.3-inch screens. Climate and audio controls, meanwhile, become a single panel of haptic buttons that you can toggle on and off, uncluttering the dashboard. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and available wireless charging are features here as well. 

After the factory-to-dealer destination charge, pricing starts at $28,565.

Kia Sportage Highlights

Expansive interior: One area Kia targeted with its recent redesign was practical interior space. The revamped Sportage has grown in about every dimension. This increased size is particularly noticeable in rear legroom and cargo capacity. Its cargo volume of 74.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flirts with some midsize SUVs’ capacities and is nearly equal to the larger Kia Sorrento’s capacity. Owing to its sporting roots, the CX-50 is a little on the smallish side for the class, which makes its cabin feel tight in spots by comparison.

Hybrid options: Sportage models are available with a choice of a traditional gasoline engine, a hybrid powertrain capable of up to 43 mpg combined, or a plug-in hybrid that can go up to 34 miles on electricity alone and boasts up to 84 MPGe on combined power. Mazda has unveiled a hybrid CX-50 in China, but so far, there’s only speculation as to if or when we’ll see it here in the United States. In terms of raw horsepower numbers, Kia’s turbocharged hybrid systems compete very well with Mazda’s turbocharged CX-50 models.        

New safety features: LED projection headlights are made standard across the entire range now, not just the top end. Also, every 2024 Sportage model gets dual seat-mounted airbags in the rear, which deploy to the side. The CX-50 protects rear passengers with side-curtain airbags.

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

2024 Mazda CX-50

2024 Mazda CX-50 next to a white fence.

Consider the Mazda CX-50 the country mouse to the CX-5’s city mouse. While these two Mazda compact SUVs have a lot in common, they have distinctly different personalities.

For 2024, Mazda deleted the 2.5 S trim of the CX-50. The first rung on the trim ladder is the 2.5 Select now, which has a few more creature comforts but a slightly higher cost of admission. Also, the 2.5 S Preferred Plus gets some boosts to the infotainment system and is renamed 2.5 S Premium.

Here is the main difference between how the Sportage and the CX-50 achieve their brand of sophistication. Kia does it with technical wizardry, while Mazda draws in classical lines and refined materials. You wouldn’t be far off if you mistook the CX-50’s face for a muscle car with its angel-eye headlights and bulging hood.

Pricing starts at $31,675, including the destination and freight charges.

Mazda CX-50 Highlights

Towing capacity: Unlike the Sportage and many of its other rivals, the CX-50 does not have independent rear shocks but a torsion-beam suspension in the back. While some reviewers have said the decision made the ride less supple (particularly off-road), Mazda went this path to increase the vehicle’s capability. The CX-50 can tow 3,500 pounds with this arrangement, 1,000 pounds more than the Sportage can manage. That matters if you plan on bringing a travel trailer along.

Athletic design: The CX-50 strikes an athletic posture and, as such, has a slightly lower roofline than the Sportage and others in the class. You could view this as a convenience or an annoyance, depending on your stature. The lower ceiling might make it more difficult for taller drivers to raise their seating position high. On the other hand, if you plan on using a roof rack to travel with luggage or adventure gear, this drop will make it a little easier to load and unload.

Ground control: The Mazda is on par with the Sportage models equipped with all-wheel drive when it comes to ground clearance. However, the top-spec CX-50 trims with the 20-inch wheels come within a whisker of the class leader Subaru Forester’s 8.7 inches and dwarf the Sportage models with front-wheel drive by an inch and a half. The result is impressive off-road prowess.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Mazda CX-50 models for sale near you.


These are two of the newest compact SUVs on the block, and each comes with a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 187 horsepower. Like their drivers, both compact SUVs yearn to be taken far outside the office park, which is most apparent in the rugged-ish Sportage X-Pro trims and CX-50’s 2.5 Turbo Meridian Edition. Outside those models, each vehicle has a large lineup to appeal to a wide range of sensibilities and budgets.


If you consider cargo space, fuel economy, or affordability a premium, the easy choice is the Kia Sportage. It packs a lot of practicality and value between its bumpers. If you’re looking for something with more refinement to its ruggedness and driveability, give the CX-50 a spin.

  2024 Kia Sportage 2024 Mazda CX-50
Starting Price $28,565 $31,675
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/27 combined mpg
Also Available AWD; Hybrid; Plug-in hybrid 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
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 110.8 inches
Overall Length 183.5 inches 185.8 inches
Width 73.4 inches 80.8 inches
Height 65.4 inches 63.5 inches
Turning Diameter 38.6 feet 36.0 feet
Headroom, Front 39.6 inches 38.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.4 inches 37.5 inches
Legroom, Front 41.4 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, Rear 41.3 inches 39.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.5 inches 55.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.6 inches 53.6 inches
Cargo Volume 39.6/74.1 cubic feet 31.4/56.3 cubic feet

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