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Why 2022 Mazda CX-5 is well positioned to narrow gap and truly challenge Toyota RAV4 for title of Australia's best-selling SUV this year

The Mazda CX-5’s late-life facelift has arrived at the perfect time.

It’s a tale as old as time: the Mazda CX-5 duking it out with the Toyota RAV4 for the title of Australia’s best-selling SUV. So, is 2022 the year the former reclaims its crown?

Back in 2019, the CX-5 was sitting pretty atop the SUV segment, having extended its own run of best-selling titles with 25,539 annual sales, 1279 more than the RAV4 could muster for the year.

But off the back of a new-generation model launching in May, the RAV4 had begun quickly closing the gap between itself and the CX-5 in 2019, with the former’s result up 9.5 per cent in a market that had declined 7.8 per cent, while the latter’s was down 2.4 per cent.

Fast forward to 2020 and the RAV4’s sales performance was nothing short of explosive, with 38,357 examples (+58.8% YOY) sold as demand for its still-fresh Hybrid variants spiked, causing delivery wait times to blow out to six months on average.

On the other side of the equation, the CX-5 continued its decline in 2020, with 21,979 units sold (-13.9% YOY) and its crown, therefore, relinquished. But more troublingly, plenty of distance had been put it and its archrival in a market that had contracted by 13.7 per cent.

However, the CX-5 started to rebound strongly in 2021, when it found 24,968 homes (+13.6%) as Mazda Australia's supply constraints prompted by the ongoing global pandemic continued to ease.

Speaking of which, the RAV4 cooled off in 2021, with 35,751 vehicles moved (-7.2%) as Toyota Australia’s own production woes started to take hold in a market that grew 14.5 per cent.

And that brings us to 2022 and why it might be the year the CX-5 can regain the title of Australia’s best-selling SUV.

Firstly, the RAV4’s sales lead already shrunk from 16,378 in 2020 to 10,603 in 2021, so the CX-5 already has significantly less catching up to do, but it has an ace up its sleeve: better supply for 2022.

As reported, buyers looking to get a RAV4 are currently facing delivery wait times of up to 12 months, meaning Toyota Australia essentially needs all of 2022 to catch up on outstanding orders from 2021.

These protracted RAV4 delivery wait times have come as a result continually strong demand but unexpectedly short supply due to intermittent production stops, with other Toyota Australia models, including the new LandCruiser 300 Series, facing similar challenges.

Needless to say, the stage has been set for the CX-5 to make a big move, with Mazda Australia having previously forecast steadier supply in 2022 for its mid-sizer.

Better yet, the current-generation CX-5’s late-life facelift has just arrived in showrooms, offering buyers revising styling front and rear, redesigned seats, a smoother automatic transmission, improved ride quality and lower cabin noise – but no hybrid option.

There’s also a bold new Touring Active and price rises for carryover variants, ranging from $800 to $1300. As such, the CX-5 line-up now starts from $32,190 plus on-road costs and reaches $53,680.

Now, the RAV4 is also getting an update in 2022, albeit a relatively minor one that’s due later in the first quarter, with pricing stretching from $34,300 to $52,320. Understandably, its order list is already long enough to stretch into 2023.

So, what do patient RAV4 buyers get? Well, a sporty new XSE grade is now available, while the flagship Edge now has a second available powertrain: a ‘self-charging’ hybrid. Standard equipment, including safety, has also been increased range-wide.

The only question is: will the CX-5 be able to take advantage of this window of opportunity and snatch the crown from the RAV4? As always, time will tell. Stay tuned.