2023 Mazda CX 50, All you want to know & watch about a Great Car
2023 Mazda CX 50 Yearlong Test Arrival: The Subaru-iest Mazda Enters Our Garage
We’re spending a year with Mazda’s off-roady CX-5 alternative.
The CX-50 drives a Mazda-sized hole in the theory that weekend-adventure crossover SUVs must look like the chunky Subaru Outback. With the sleek 2023 Mazda CX-50, you can almost hear the automaker whispering, “To each, their own.” The CX-50 represents a more subtle approach to a segment led by the well-rounded Outback—a Subaru I drove for a year.
Mazda’s first challenge is educating consumers on the difference between the CX-5, a long-time MotorTrend favorite, and the new CX-50. As we discovered on our First Drive, there’s so much more to the CX-50 than just a “0” on the end of a CX-5 badge. What will a year behind the wheel reveal?
Meeting Our CX-50 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus
Starting at $42,775, our 2023 CX-50 is the most expensive five-passenger Mazda you can buy today. Let’s break that down. Every CX-50 includes standard AWD, which is one reason the base model starts at a relatively high $28,025.
Most CX-50s will get a 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-four engine, the same powerplant we’ve seen in everything from the Mazda 3 to the CX-30, and CX-5. Like all of those Mazdas, the CX-50 offers an upgrade to a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four powerplant good for 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on 87-octane or 256 hp and 320 lb-ft on 93. That’s the engine we picked.
Within the CX-50’s 2.5 Turbo trims, we went all-out with the Premium Plus model so we could test as many of the CX-50’s features as possible, from its new panoramic moonroof to a 360-degree camera system. Going turbo is also the only way to get an interior color other than black. With the available Terracotta medium-brown leather seats and stitching accents, the CX-50 feels more premium and interesting than your average compact or midsize SUV.
Like almost every CX-50, our top-of-the-line trim includes a 10.3-inch infotainment screen that can function as a touchscreen when you’re stopped. Otherwise, a rotating knob controls things regardless of whether you’re in the standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, or in the native Mazda operating system.
Blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency front braking, and adaptive cruise control are also standard on every CX-50. Our CX-50 rolls on 20-inch wheels with polished and shiny black finishes; most CX-50s have black 17-inch wheels with more off-road-friendly tires. Like other compact and midsize SUVs, you’ll have to upgrade a couple trims to get a power liftgate. Otherwise, the CX-50 offers a generous standard equipment package at the base and loaded trim levels.
So It’s Not A CX-5?
In person, the CX-50’s positioning against the CX-5 becomes clear. The longer, lower, and wider CX-50 wears dark cladding over the wheel wells and grille detailing that’s unique to this SUV. The CX-50 won’t strike as many buyers as classically beautiful like the CX-5. But that’s the point; the CX-50, which is actually based on the smaller CX-30, expresses a more outdoors-ready appeal.
What makes the CX-50 so interesting is how it attempts to mix the best of Mazda’s current ambitions with a target buyer that’s new to the brand. Over the course of a year, we’ll see how well the CX-50 can deliver the core Mazda trait of entertaining dynamics while matching the appeal of the Outback, a long-time leader for projecting an outdoorsy appeal. And with our CX-50 2.5 Turbo carrying an MSRP of over $43,000, we’ll determine how premium it truly feels at that price point. We can’t wait.
Looks good! More details?
|2023 Mazda CX-50 Turbo AWD (Premium Plus) Specifications|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$43,170|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.5L Turbo direct-injected DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|POWER (SAE NET)||227 hp @ 5,000 rpm*|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm*|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,905 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||185.8 x 75.6 x 63.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.4 sec @ 89.7 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.8 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||23/29/25 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||395 miles|
|*Regular-fuel ratings; 256 hp/320 lb-ft on premium fuel|
- HIGHS: Zesty turbo engine, high-class cabin, pleasing to drive.
- LOWS: Just-average warranty coverage, wireless smartphone charging only offered on top trim, less headroom than in a CX-5.
- VERDICTThe CX-50 brings refinement and driving joy to the compact SUV class in the way that only a Mazda can.
A new nameplate has joined Mazda’s lineup in the form of the 2023 CX-50 SUV, which is well-equipped to take on compact crossover rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4. The CX-50 is available with either a naturally aspirated 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged version of that engine making 256 horsepower. All models come with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. A hybrid model is also in the works that will use a powertrain from Toyota.
The CX-50 shares a platform with the subcompact CX-30 crossover and the Mazda 3 compact car so it offers athletic handling similar to those two winners. Although it’s barely larger than the company’s CX-5 SUV, the CX-50 wears more rugged styling, which is a departure from the more refined, upscale designs found elsewhere in the Mazda lineup.
What’s New for 2023?
The CX-50 is an all-new model for the brand and Mazda says that it will be sold alongside the slightly smaller CX-5, which is on an older platform. How long the two will be in dealers together is unknown.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The CX-50 is available in a plethora of trim levels ranging from fairly basic to downright luxurious, but we’d recommend going with the Turbo model. It adds the more powerful 256-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and increases towing capacity to 3500 pounds. It also comes standard with a host of desirable features, including a panoramic sunroof, a 10.3-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and leather upholstery with heated front seats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All models will come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder but the one to get is the more powerful turbocharged variant offering 256 horsepower; the base non-turbo offering makes just 187 hp. A six-speed automatic is standard, as is all-wheel drive, and Mazda has baked-in crisp handling to the CX-50 so that it carries on the company’s tradition of offering fun-to-drive vehicles. In fact, during our initial test drive, we praised the CX-50 for providing a joyful driving experience and accurate steering while preserving a comfortable ride.
A hybrid model will join the lineup later on with a powertrain sourced from Toyota. We expect it to be the one found in the RAV4 Hybrid, which is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors good for a combined 219 horsepower. So far, we’ve only had a chance to test the turbocharged model, but it managed a 6.6-second rip to 60 mph at our track.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The most efficient CX-50 is the one with the base four-cylinder. That model is rated for 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, but going with the optional turbo only drops those number by 1 mpg respectively while adding a lot of performance. On our 75-mph highway fuel economy test route, the turbocharged CX-50 managed 28 mpg. For more information about the CX-50’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Like the CX-5 and CX-30 crossovers, the CX-50 offers space for five passengers in two rows of seats. Inside, large square dashboard vents give the 50 a slightly more truckish look than the smaller CX-30, but the overall vibe is tastefully upscale, especially on the loaded Premium Plus trim. The front seats are comfortable and supportive; rear seat space is generous as well, but it should be noted that the CX-5 offers more headroom. All models come with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button start, and a partially-digital gauge display.
Infotainment and Connectivity
While the base CX-50 comes with a smaller 8.8-inch infotainment display, all other trims get a larger 10.3-inch screen; both versions run the latest version of the Mazda Connect interface and are controlled via a click wheel mounted on the center console. All models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both with wireless connectivity. An eight-speaker stereo is standard but Premium and Premium Plus models come with a 12-speaker Bose stereo with SiriusXM satellite radio. A wireless phone charger is available, but only on the top Turbo Premium Plus.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The CX-50 comes standard with a full suite of driver-assistance features, including lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Other features, such as automatic high-beam headlamps and a 360-degree exterior camera system are optional. For more information about the CX-50’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2023 Mazda CX-50
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $37,625/$43,170
Options: Premium Plus package (ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 12-speaker Bose audio, Sirius XM radio, wireless phone charger, navigation, head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree view, blind-spot detection, traffic-jam assist), $5150; Zircon Sand Metallic paint, $395
turbocharged and intercooled Miller-capable inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 152 in3, 2488 cm3
Power: 256 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/trailing arm
Brakes, F/R: 12.8-in vented disc/12.8-in disc
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring
245/45R-20 99V M+S
Wheelbase: 110.8 in
Length: 185.8 in
Width: 75.6 in
Height: 63.9 in
Passenger Volume: 98 ft3
Cargo Volume: 31 ft3
Curb Weight: 3866 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 6.6 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.1 sec @ 91 mph
100 mph: 18.8 sec
120 mph: 35.5 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.2 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.6 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.0 sec
Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 142 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 161 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 20 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 28 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 440 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 25/23/29 mpg
BY DREW DORIAN / caranddriver
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