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Mazda vs Toyota: Comparing Quality, Style, and Sales

Mazda vs Toyota

Mazda and Toyota are two of the most well-known Japanese car brands worldwide, often known for their reliability and affordability. How do these two giants fare against one another as far as quality, style, and worldwide sales? It’s not as close as you might think.

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Review Summary

Mazda cars consistently rank among the world’s most reliable cars, but Toyota does too. When you have two of the best, it can be hard to articulate what sets them apart from each other. Let’s check some of the key points for each car brand and what they bring to the table.

  • In 2021, Toyota sold 10.5 million cars, which makes them number one in worldwide sales for the year.
  • If the prestige of owning a Toyota isn’t enough, consider Mazda. The brand continues to improve its offerings in key areas like reliability, safety, and EV technology.
  • In terms of longevity, Toyotas are legendary, but that doesn’t guarantee their future offerings will uphold the same standard. Mazdas continue to prove their worth and typically rank up there with Honda and Nissan as far as quality.
  • Toyota cars tend to have more interior space and more functional features, as opposed to Mazda, which has a reputation for smaller, sportier cars.
  • You can typically find a used Mazda for cheaper than a used Toyota because of the latter’s enduring popularity. This can be a major factor when deciding what brand to go with.

At a Glance

For this section, we’ll be comparing the specs of two current offerings by Mazda and Toyota: the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota RAV4. This is for educational purposes and doesn’t necessarily mean that either brand is better than the other.

Mazda CX-5
  • Horsepower: 187 HP
  • Fuel economy: EPA-rated 25/31mpg city/highway
  • Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder
  • Interior space: 103.6 cubic square feet
  • Touchscreen: 10.25-inch screen
  • Owners appreciate a more luxurious cabin, larger touchscreen, more passenger space
Toyota RAV4
  • Horsepower: 203 HP
  • Fuel economy: EPA-rated 28/35mpg city/highway
  • Engine: 2.5L 4-cylinder
  • Interior space: 98.9 cubic square feet
  • Touchscreen: 7 inches
  • Owners enjoy better off-road capabilities, cargo space, and electric options.

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Overview of Mazda:

Mazda Indonesia
Mazda Indonesia (Image Credit: TuRbO_J, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

Mazda sometimes flies under the radar, with brands like Honda and Toyota soaking up a lot of the limelight. That’s especially unfortunate because Mazda makes great cars, but they lack the same unquestionable reliability. That said, they do enjoy a reputation for sportiness and great handling, with the Mazda 3 as an example.

Pros
  • More affordable than Toyotas on average
  • More luxurious interior cabins than Toyota
  • Most cars are smaller and sportier than Toyota’s comparable offerings
  • Users often say Mazdas ‘feel fun to drive’
  • Less road noise
Cons
  • Known for having worse dealer service than Toyota
  • Doesn’t hold resale value very well
  • Cars usually have worse fuel economy than Toyotas
  • Not all cars are as reliable as Toyotas

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Overview of Toyota:

Toyota Dealership
Toyota Dealership (Image Credit: Michael Rivera, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Toyota is a legendary car maker, with some of the best-selling and longest-lasting cars in the world. What Toyota specializes in is reliability. Save for the occasional experiment, most Toyotas are a safe bet for 20+ years if you take care of them. Toyotas often command high resale values for this reason.

Pros
  • Widely trusted worldwide for reliability
  • Great customer service at dealers
  • Most cars have good or great fuel economy
  • Parts are easy to get because Toyotas are popular
Cons
  • Harder to find a deal on a used Toyota since they hold their value longer
  • Few hybrid offerings
  • Most car cabins are focused on functionality rather than luxury

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What Are The Differences Between The Two?

While they’re competing car manufacturers, Mazdas and Toyotas have considerably different strengths that make them both great car choices for different audiences. Toyotas are for people who want something virtually guaranteed to last, while Mazdas are more of a gamble with luxurious interiors and sportier handling.

Overall

  • Edge: Toyota

While Toyotas sometimes lack some of the ‘fun’ features of Mazdas, most of their offerings boast the performance, reliability, and driving experience that made them renowned. While Mazda has really stepped it up in the past 20 years, Toyota has been perfecting its craft for much longer than that. For all these reasons, Toyota wins the ‘Overall’ category.

Price

  • Edge: Mazda

Toyota’s reputation for reliability makes their cars hold their resale value very well, while Mazdas depreciate like any sporty car brand. Accordingly, you can almost always find a used Mazda for cheaper than a used Toyota. However, its condition might be questionable. If budget is a significant factor, though, keep this in mind.

Reliability

  • Edge: Toyota

Most Japanese car brands are known for reliability, but Toyota goes above and beyond. Their customer service is noted to be head and shoulders above Mazda, whose dealers don’t receive the support they should. To this day, you can find a 1990 Toyota out there that can run 100k more miles with a little work. Not many Mazdas can make the same claim, if any.

Handling

  • Edge: Mazda

Before they became a serious competitor to Toyota, Mazdas were commonly seen as weird little sporty cars with fun suspensions. To this day, Mazdas are usually easier and more fun to drive than comparable Toyotas. With huge upgrades to interior cabin design, handling, and more, Mazdas are shaping up to come for Toyota’s crown.

What the Users Say

While we’ve done our own research, we wanted to offer you the opinions of other drives as well. Here’s what Toyota and Mazda drivers have to say about these models:

  • Many users agree the only reason Mazda isn’t more popular is because of their lack of a unified marketing campaign in the U.S.
  • A few users have noted Mazdas are prone to paint flaking and other cosmetic body issues, sometimes leading to metal flaking as well.
  • Several users note that Mazda has a more compelling design language than Toyota and that most Mazdas handle better than comparable Toyotas or Hondas.
  • Owners comparing cars state that the Mazda 3 has a much nicer interior than a Toyota Corolla, and it handles better.
  • Virtually all users agree that Toyota has legendary staying power in the market, even if base models lack bells and whistles other brands offer.
  • Numerous sources indicate Mazda still suffers from a reputation of cutting corners with shoddy parts, although their cars in the past decade are great.

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Conclusion

Both Toyota and Mazda make great cars, though different people buy them. People looking for reliability and longevity will almost always go for a Toyota or Honda, but people with an interest in Mazda’s new design styles and sporty feel won’t be disappointed.


Featured Image Credit: Left: Mazda: Stux, Pixabay | Right: Toyota: Lebioda, Pixabay

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