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Clash of the Crossovers: 2019 GMC Terrain vs the 2019 Mazda CX-5

GMC and Mazda are two very different car manufacturers with two very different takes on the classic crossover SUV design. When two highly respected companies release different versions of a similar style of vehicle, it can be difficult and even overwhelming to pick apart the details and figure out which one is the superior vehicle, and which one is the best fit for you. In the case of the 2019 GMC Terrain vs the 2019 Mazda CX-5, we’re here to break down the facts and help provide a clear-cut winner between the two.


Let’s kick this comparison off with the first thing that everyone will notice when you pull up in your shiny new crossover. Both GMC and Mazda have a slightly different spin on this design, making each car stand out from the competition in their own way.

GMC Terrain

GMC designed the 2019 Terrain with a redesigned grille that completely reinvents the aesthetic for the entire vehicle. Its straightforward style and distinct GMC logo are the perfect accents for this bold and unique crossover.

The high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps are settled within the unique c-shaped frame that works to further provide a distinct personality and appearance to the Terrain’s profile. The bright HID lamps also cut through darkness, fog, and any other visual impairments on the road. The Terrain’s taillamps also feature the unique c-shaped frames to ensure that you look every bit as striking from the back as you do from the front.

The Terrain’s combination of eight colors and three interior trims results in a total of 24 unique combinations that can make this vehicle all your own. Combine this with the countless add-ons, available 19’’ rims and more, and the possibilities for customization are almost endless.

And, if the available options just aren’t for you, GMC has one more offering that just might catch your eye. The Terrain Black Edition provides a unique injection of personality into the classic Terrain design. With 19’’ black wheels, tinted windows and blacked-out exterior details, this special edition vehicle is perfect for those who like to take pride in being discrete. 

Mazda CX-5

Compared to the GMC Terrain, the design of the Mazda CX-5 takes a much sportier approach to the traditional crossover design. It’s sleek body, smaller grille, and overtly aerodynamic features will surely appeal to those looking for a more streamlined, less SUV design in their crossover.

The Mazda CX-5 offers seven exterior colors, ranging from Soul Red Crystal Metallic to the muted Jet-Black Mica. Combine these options with the five leather interior options and you have quite the variety of ways to express yourself through this sleek and modern crossover.

In this category, it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. Between the more traditional and boxier look of the GMC Terrain and the sportier appearance of the Mazda CX-5, there is a lot of sway depending on what exactly you’re looking for in your new crossover.


Now let’s take a look at what people will pay attention to when you spin those tires and speed off. The crossover design provides a unique marriage between sharp and sporty performance and the raw, rugged power of a full-size SUV. So, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you’ve come to the right place.

GMC Terrain 

The GMC Terrain starts off on an impressive note, as the only vehicle in its class to come standard with a turbocharged nine-speed engine. This results in a quick 170 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque. Working in tandem with its impressive trailering capabilities and traction select system, the GMC Terrain is a true workhorse capable of taking on the smoothest tracks and toughest off-road terrains. With the right options, the relatively small GMC Terrain is capable towing up to a whopping 3,500 lbs; not bad for a crossover.

The front end of a Black Edition 2019 GMC Terrain is shown.

Mazda CX-5

The standard Sport trim for the Mazda CX-5 comes equipped with the SKYACTIV-G 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. This impressive tech-forward engine is capable of outputting 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. If you’re looking for more power and torque in your performance specs, you will have to look to the higher cost trims such as the Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, or Signature, depending on how much you’re willing to shell out.

The CX-5 also offers the available iACTIV AWD system, which helps predict when all-wheel drive might be necessary for optimal and safe performance. This high-tech system monitors everything from the outside temperature to throttle input and braking patterns to optimize torque distribution and ultimately curb traction loss. 


Now that you’ve pulled up, shown off your new ride and peeled out, it’s time to discuss what is perhaps the most essential trait of your new crossover: safety. Each manufacturer has harnessed their years of experience to provide a crossover that puts safety at the forefront of its focus.

GMC Terrain 

GMC’s tagline for the Terrain’s safety is “move confidently.” This simple phrase exemplifies GMC’s attitude and approach when designing this modern crossover. Every turn, acceleration, and use of the brake that you perform is backed by a highly-intelligent system dedicated to keeping you safe in any situation.

Just a few of the Terrain’s tech-forward features include lane departure warning, which can provide gentle steering wheel assistance if the car detects you veering out of your lane. It also offers the available front pedestrian braking, which is able to detect when a pedestrian is directly ahead or when a collision with a foreign object is imminent. The car can alert the driver or even automatically apply the brakes when it deems it necessary.

As if all of these exciting safety features weren’t already enough, the 2019 GMC Terrain received an overall five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Mazda CX-5

When describing their approach to safety, Mazda states that it is “second nature and first priority.” With a company as well-versed in vehicle design as Mazda, they use their wealth of experience to continue innovating and making safer cars moving into the future.

The Mazda CX-5 also implements a number of exciting technological safety features to help protect the vehicle’s occupants regardless of the situation. With many sensing features identical to that of the GMC Terrain, the Mazda CX-5 sets itself apart with the way in which it supports these features. Their unique i-ACTIVSENSE technology uses milliwave radars and cameras to implement these features as effectively and accurately as possible.

In their review from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Mazda CX-5 also passed with flying colors, receiving a five-star rating.

And the Winner is…

Starting at the low price of $25,000, the 2019 GMC Terrain has a lot to offer. It’s stable design, slew of color options, impressive performance, and exceptional safety make it a great choice regardless of what you’re looking for in a new crossover.

On the other hand, with an only slightly lower starting price of $24,350, the Mazda CX-5 offers a very different type of crossover experience. The sporty body and smaller frame may appeal to a certain audience but will likely leave many crossover owners wanting a bit more. In addition to this, the GMC Terrain offers slightly more features and capability at the standard level, while the CX-5 offers most of them as available add-ons.

So, if you decide that the GMC Terrain is the right crossover for you, head down to your local GMC dealership today to get behind the wheel and maybe even drive one home.