The Great CUV Face-off

EscapeCX5CRV
The allure of a crossover can't be denied when it comes to families, and there are three all-new major players that are sure to pique their interest: the redesigned Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. They all may be in the same class, but they each deliver varying degrees of appeal and function for families.

More 2011 L.A. Auto Show Coverage

Dubbed the "Super" CR-V, Honda says the new generation has the functionality of a minivan, the efficiency of a car and the confidence of an SUV. It sounds like a lot of talk, but they delivered on it.

2012HondaCRV
Families will dig the spacious cargo area and coupled with innovative details that really up the convenience ante for any busy mom or dad, the CR-V really shines. Thanks to the multitasking privacy screen in the back, my groceries would no longer be subjected to being crushed by my daughter's stroller. The screen over the top not only conceals your stuff, but it also can be used to split the cargo area to better organize your stuff. The one-touch lever that folds the rear seats flat is definitely the easiest to use among the three new crossovers.

The CR-V gets bonus points for a huge center console that could hold my purse inside it and a multiangle rearview camera that comes standard on CR-V trims. It has an "eco coach" that changes the gauges from white to green to let you know whether you're driving efficiently. And for a little extra, you can even get a rear entertainment system for the second row, which is new for this segment.

2013FordEscape
The all-new Ford Escape wins the Most Dramatic Makeover award in my book. Besides getting a styling overhaul, it takes the love for a mama and her power liftgate to a whole new level. You can bring out your inner Rockette with the Escape's new hands-free power liftgate — just kick your foot under the rear bumper and the liftgate opens. Baby in arms, five groceries bags in your hands and keys at the bottom of your purse? No problem. The car can sense that the key fob is close enough and it responds. This feature alone could earn Ford many votes for Team Escape. Ford is also promising impressive fuel-economy figures for the new Escape, but we'll have to see if they are significant enough to sway us.

2013MazdaCX5
Unfortunately, the Mazda CX-5 lacked any wow features that could get me excited. It's clear that most of the priority was focused on styling and performance here, not innovation. Yes, you'll find a reasonably sized cargo area, attractive looks and even the usual number of cupholders. But, for a new contender in this competitive segment, Mazda really didn't bring anything unique to the table besides its best-in-class fuel economy of 26/32 mpg city/highway that the company wasn't hesitant to share. I guess we'll have to wait until we get the CX-5 on the road to see if the "Zoom Zoom" and fun behind the wheel can push Mazda's new addition forward in the battle between small crossovers.

Carrie Kim is a contributor to Cars.com Family.

Comments 

George

Two fatal flaws for the CR-V: transmission & headlights.
The CR-V is going to be painfully slow at sea level, it is going to be unsafely slow at altitude. (and Honda is joking when they say it can tow 1500 pounds)
Dual beam headlights just speak to the lack of respect for their customers. For the transaction price of a CR-V, it should have something modern in the way of lighting.

The KIA Sorento (slightly larger/heavier than CR-V) with modern direct injection engine + 6 speed automatic, returns 22/32 to Honda's 23/31; and 'awd' 21/28 to Honda's 22/30.
and KIA should upgrade the Sportage's (marginally smaller/lighter) base engine to direct injection soon.

Three engine seems like one too many for the Ford Escape, one engine seems like one too few for the Cx-5.
Maybe Ford could just give the 2.5 I4 to Mazda.

55

What new the CR-V brought?
5 speed auto? Will be slow,totally agree with another poster.
Ford is a Ford.
Mazda will be a winner when they start selling it with diesel. But the diesel look suspisious: some low pressure, lite design. We'll see

broq3.5

I like the Escape and the cr-v, but the Mazda is just not attractive to me. Something about it looks cheap. I can't put my finger on what it is, but the longer I look at it the more I think of the mitsubishi outlander sport, instead of its really attractive cx7 and cx9 siblings. I'm guessing it is a car that looks better in person too.

Broq

Rich

Broq, The front end on the Mazda is truly awful. I like Mazda a lot as a brand but that’s where the trouble has been for a while--ugly front ends.

Lance

I'm wondering about the Escape liftgate that works with the foot under the bumper as long as the key is "in proximity". If my wife was sitting in the car with the key could anybody just walk up and open the liftgate? Or does the key have to be really close to the liftgate? Seems like it could be a security or safety issue.

John

Of the three here I would take the Escape. It will probably be the quickest and the styling is by far the best. Honda gets kudos for interior versatility, man do they know how to lay out an interior. The Mazda's dash board looks Audi like, a good thing might I add.
I doubt Honda's new "Real Time" AWD system will live up to its name. They say 100% of the power can be transferred to the rear wheels. Honda's AWD system has been terrible in the past and I can't imagine it getting any better. If you need AWD, get a Subaru.

Another HUGE plus for the Escape is rear ventilation vents. Rear vents are big with me. When one of the kids gets too hot they're not abashed about making themselves heard at all.

Six

"Mazda really didn't bring anything unique to the table besides its best-in-class fuel economy of 26/32 mpg city/highway"

Maybe this is a more desirable feature than a fancy power liftgate or huge center console? But I'm biased, I love the looks of the Mazda.

Ajazi

To those who are CONFUSED about which one is better (having 6speed vs 5speed Transmission):
FACTS:
1. One benefit of having 6speed over 5speed is the engine doesn't have to rev to high to go to another gear. This affects your fuel efficiency in some way.
2. Higher number of gears are normally used in higher HP engines to benefit from getting better in fuel efficiency. But IF you have a small car or SUV with 200 HP engine, you don't really need more gears.
3. If you are more of a city driver, having 6speed is useless. You will only be using 1-4 gears most of the time.

This is the thing for those manufacturers with 6speed trany, they went from having 5 to 6 speed trany and they didn't even have MAJOR improvements on their fuel efficiency. With HONDA, they stayed with 5speed because it is the proven transmission for practical day-to-day use. Whatever Kia, Hyundai, or Ford do, they can't beat the iVtec engine of Honda... 5gears and still the most fuel efficient engine out there.

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