A red 2020 GMC Terrain is parked in front of a glass building after winning the 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Mazda CX-5 comparison.

The 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Mazda CX-5: The Vital Stats


If you didn’t know, the SUV market is climbing to sales heights previously unseen before throughout automotive history. Everyone wants a vehicle that can function as just about anything, which means enough interior space for up to at least five passengers, plus room enough to throw in some gear and/or luggage as well. Also, the gas mileage needs to be decent for the everyday commute or long weekend trip. And for that weekend trip, the vehicle better be prepared for a little adventuring on dirt trails. The kicker, though, is the whole package needs to come at a reasonable and affordable price as well. So what vehicle out there has such versatility and capability? Well, if you’re being competitive, that’s actually quite a few of the SUVs available today. To make it simple for you, let’s just compare two of them with the 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Mazda CX-5.

Pricing and Model Selection

Let’s start off right with the most important factor on everyone’s mind, which would be the price of these two SUVs. They’re both considered compact SUVs, and that means you’d find the 2020 GMC Terrain slotted into a position at the bottom of its SUV lineup, right below the Acadia and two spots below the Yukon. The 2020 Mazda CX-5, on the other hand, lands between the larger CX-9 and the smaller CX-30. Apparently, there is an even smaller SUV within the Mazda lineup called the CX-3, which appears to be their smallest option.

At a starting price of $26,195, the 2020 GMC Terrain enters in with a price point people will not be thrown off by. It’s a point that’s directly between $20,000 and $30,000 and hits a spot that is quite comfortable for most of us. Basically, it’s around exactly what we’d expect it to be. The $26,195 price is for the SL model, but moving up, you find the SLE for $28,400, the SLT for $32,395, and the ever-popular Denali for $38,300. The gradual increase in price for each upgraded model shouldn’t give consumers any giant sticker shock, although moving from the Terrain SL to the Terrain Denali will be a big leap of about $13,000. However, you’ll find that kind of jump on just about any new vehicle out there when you’re moving from the lowest trim to the highest trim.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 is very similar in its pricing format, especially across the different models when compared to the 2020 GMC Terrain. The CX-5 Sport starts off at $25,190, then moves to $26,830 on the Touring, $30,310 on the Grand Touring, $35,135 on the Grand Touring Reserve, and $37,155 on the Signature. Overall, it’s pretty similar.

A dark grey 2020 Mazda CX-5 is shown from the side on a city street.

Engine Options and Capabilities

When it comes to what the two vehicles are capable of, and what they come equipped with, things start looking a little different. There will, of course, still be similarities, but this section is one that might help you make a decision one way or another.

The 2020 GMC Terrain comes equipped with two different engine options, depending on which trim level you’re looking at. The SL, SLE, and SLT trims come with a standard 1.5L Turbo 4-cylinder engine that offers up to 170 hp and 203 lb-ft of torque. The standard Denali engine, with an available option on the SLT, is a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine that offers up to 252 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission for an overall smoother driving experience.

The 2020 Mazda CX-5 also comes with two engine options. The first is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with an output of 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque that is standard on the Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models. The second is a 2.5T 4-cylinder engine with an output of 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque that is standard on the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models. Both engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Overall, the engine performance is pretty similar between the two vehicles, especially when looking solely at the horsepower and torque numbers. One may have better numbers in one regard, and another may have better numbers in a different regard. The upgraded CX-5 engine option clearly has a much greater amount of torque available than that of the GMC Terrain, but the Terrain also has a higher number of gears available, which translates to a more efficient operation overall. Plus, while the CX-5 engine may have that higher torque rating, it’s still limited to a 2,000 lbs maximum trailering capacity. And that’s with either of its engines. The 2020 GMC Terrain has a maximum trailering capacity of 3,500 lbs when the 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder engine is equipped. With that much increased trailering capacity, you’re looking at a lot more gear or toys you can tow for your next big outing with friends or family.

Off-Road Ready

A black 2020 GMC Terrain is driving on a mountain road.

Being able to tackle some rough terrain is where an SUV will really shine over your normal sedan commuter. It’s part of the appeal of owning an SUV because, whether manufacturers like it or not, people expect them to be extremely versatile. If that’s what consumers want, that’s what companies have to deliver.

The 2020 GMC Terrain implies it’s already off-road-ready just from its nameplate. And with additional features like available AWD on every model, Traction Select System, and Trailer Sway Control, you’d better believe this is an SUV that can handle an adventure. The Traction Select System allows the driver to choose between different drive modes depending on the driving and weather conditions. Modes like FWD, AWD, Off-Road, and available Tow/Haul make it a breeze for you to use the easily-adjustable manual knob whenever you need to. Different drive modes are even available on the FWD models, and they include Normal, available Tow/Haul, and Snow.

For the 2020 Mazda CX-5, it’s a little more obscure as to whether it’s a vehicle that can actually handle off-road situations. It also has AWD available as an option across the different models, but there are no different driving modes that are going to improve anything when you’re no longer on the pavement. The only additional drive mode is Sport, which is specifically designed for use when driving on paved roads, and specifically on highways. Instead, the i-ACTIVE AWD system on the CX-5 is supposed to automatically predict when AWD is needed and adjust accordingly. It sounds pretty straightforward, but being able to manually choose your drive mode when you’re in the midst of the experience yourself sounds like it could be a better option as you would have more control over the adjustments.

At the end of the day, neither of these vehicles is necessarily going to outmatch a vehicle that is specifically meant for off-roading, but they can still manage. In the matchup between the 2020 GMC Terrain vs 2020 Mazda CX-5, though, the winner really comes down to what you’re looking for. If you don’t need the off-road chops or increased trailering capacity, then they both end up looking equally attractive. Otherwise, the Terrain should be the top choice.