You may like the 2017 Mazda CX-5 more than the 2017 Honda CR-V, but everyone has a chance to choose between two vehicles that are quite clearly different, yet also clearly leaders in what they do. Everything else seems like alternatives based on price or perhaps off-road readiness.
At its simplest, the CX-5 is the best choice for the driver while the CR-V is the best choice for everyone else aboard. That's not to say they are myopic in those classifications – the CX-5 could still ably handle family duty, while the CR-V is impressively well-rounded to drive in a way that shouldn't turn off those seeking some driving involvement. However, each has a clear focus that sets it down a different path toward different target buyers.
Let's start with the newer kid on the block from Mazda. It is best suited for the person whose life changes have dictated the switch from an agile car to some sort of family hauler. Its spot-on steering and throttle response evoke Porsche, while the six-speed automatic transmission favors performance over fuel economy (while still getting really good fuel economy). Those dynamic elements, plus a carefully crafted, ideal driving position should make the CX-5 feel "just right" for those used to more sporting, non-family-oriented transport.
The latest CR-V is less cardboard than ever before, but you'd have to be quite the cubist to prefer its looks over the slinky CX-5. However, the Honda's rather bulbous rear-end proportions make its unmatched stuff-carrying potential possible. Its 75.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is best-in-class (the CX-5 is down by 5 cubes to 59 cubic feet for 2017) and its low load floor makes lifting in that heavy suitcase or getting the Golden Retriever onboard that much easier. So there you have it: two crossover SUVs, both class leaders, but in completely different ways. Which is better? That really depends on you.