Introducing Mazda's newest SUV: the 2023 CX-50. A two-row crossover Mazda says is designed to get you out into nature. Meaning it's not just about looks but more capability as well. The new CX-50 also debuts some new features to the Mazda lineup: my test model's Zircon Sand Metallic exterior color, along with the brand's first-ever available panoramic moonroof. My test vehicle is currently the range-topper of the lineup - the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. Later this year, a Meridian Edition will arrive.
Notably, too, the CX-50 is the first Mazda vehicle to roll of the line at the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Plant in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Mazda CX-50 immediately impresses as a great-looking SUV. It mixes ruggedness with Mazda's stylishly sleek sophistication - a design process two years in the making, according to Mazda. The 5-passenger SUV presents with a wide stance and minimum 8.6 inches of ground clearance on this trim (compared to 7.6-7.9-inches on the CX-5.) Extra black cladding along the lower body and wheel arches lends to its capable, rugged look.
Zircon Sand Metallic is new to the Mazda lineup and the Turbo model rides on 20-inch aluminum alloy Black Metallic machine-finished wheels. (I've also recently driven a CX-50 in Polymetal Gray Metallic.)
In front, the Turbo model's black grille is flanked by an adaptive LED front lighting system. In back: combo LED taillights, a larger dual exhaust and Turbo badging. On top you find roof rails and a body-color roof rear spoiler.
There are two engine options. My CX-50's top-of-the-line 2.5 Turbo delivers up to 256-horses and 320 pound-feet of toque when you fill up with 93 Octane Premium fuel. (It drops to 227-hp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque on 87 Octane.) I'd love to see Mazda update the 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is 25 combined.
Of course the big story with the CX-50 is its added capability thanks to Mazda's new Mi-Drive which has an off-road mode along with i-Activ All-Wheel Drive - both standard on the lineup. The Turbo-equipped model can tow 3,500 pounds.
It's no surprise that the CX-50's driver-centric cabin more than lives up to the near premium interiors we expect from Mazda. It's well-crafted and executed using quality materials and hardware. Mazda says interior details are inspired by technical, modern outdoor gear.
My test model sports a black leather-trimmed interior with precise camel stitching and trim on the dash, door panels and seats. (You can find photos of the CX-50's amazing new Terracotta interior here.) The 8-way power driver's seat (6-way power passenger) blends support and comfort perfectly. A leather-wrapped, heated, steering wheel with paddle shifters sports quality hardware and silver accents.
A sloping dash integrates a 10.25-inch non-touchscreen. Below it you find dual zone climate controls. Down on the glossy black center console, you see a leather-wrapper gear shifter, Mi Drive mode selector, multimedia controller and controls for the electric parking brake and auto brake. You can slide your phone into an available wireless charger tucked underneath the top to the console bin, which opens up from the center.
The Premium Plus package comes with a terrific 12-speaker premium Bose sound system. Mazda says it's been custom engineered for the CX-50.
The second row is roomy and comfortable as well. Passengers have their own A/C vents, USB ports and heated seat controls. A drop down center console offers two cupholders.
Above you'll see the brand's first-ever panoramic moonroof. It's impressive in size, however a thick black beam detracts from the open feeling I expect Mazda was going for.
The CX-50's remote power lift gate reveals impressive cargo space. Side storage areas come in handy for bags. Levers in the cargo area operate the second row 60/40 split seats. A temporary spare is stored underneath the cargo floor.
For those with real outdoor aspirations, Mazda offers an accessory line that includes a rooftop tent and more.
I wish I was as wowed with the tech as I am everything else. It's very familiar if you'd driven other Mazda models. A 7-inch TFT digital display provides driver info and it's surrounded by analog dials on either side.
A 10.25-inch horizontal multimedia non-touchscreen display hosts a nice large rearview camera. It supports standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and voice command. You control the Mazda Connect system via a Multifunction Command controller on the center console, steering wheel controls or by voice command. The Turbo Premium Plus is the only trim in the lineup that comes with Navigation.
In terms of connectivity, this trim comes with four USB ports, two in front and two for passengers in back.
Thanks to the Premium Plus package you get heated rear seats, a 360 degree monitor, and driver assistance features Traffic Jam Assist, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Rear Smart Brake Support, Blind Spot Prevention and an auto dimming driver side mirror, Mazda Navigation system, active driving display, Traffic Sign recognition, Frameless auto dimming rear view and a wireless phone charger.
Ride and Drive
Without a doubt, the CX-50's great driving dynamics, engaging ride and sporty handling are a highlight. The CX-50 comes with Mazda's new Mi-Drive technology, that debuted on the CX-5, with Normal, Sport, Off Road and Towing modes. As you'd expect, you can feel a real difference in responsiveness in Sport mode. It's also equipped with Mazda's G Vectoring Control Plus. Handling is sure-footed and braking is confident.
Standard i-Active Safety tech includes Advanced Smart City Brake Support with Day and Night-time Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Mazda's Stop and Go Cruise control. Driver Attention Alert is also standard.
The Turbo adds a 360-degree camera, Traffic Jam Assist, Front and Rear Parking Sensors, Rear Smart Brake Support and Blind Spot Prevention.
What You'll Pay
MSRP as equipped is $43,170 with destination which includes a $395 charge for the special paint. That pricing does make it more expensive than the 2022 CX-5 Turbo model I recently reviewed. You can check out my CX-5 review here.
The CX-50 doesn't re-invent the wheel - but this well-executed and well-designed SUV delivers a missing element of ruggedness and capability to Mazda's lineup -- sure to appeal to those seeking to spend more time in the outdoors in style.
- What I liked most: Looks, driving dynamics, interior.
- What I would change: Make it a single pane panoramic moonroof or at least reduce the thickness of the center beam.
- MSRP: Base price: $41,550; As equipped: $43,170.
- Fuel Economy: 23 city/ 29 highway/25 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,636 miles.
- Weight: 3,907 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Temporary Spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 185.8” long/80.8 wide with mirrors open/ 63.9” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.8 gallons with the filler on the driver's side.
- Official Color: Zircon Sand Metallic ($395).
- Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds.
- 2022 Mazda CX-50 Turbo in a few words: A well-executed, near luxury crossover designed to boldly go where Mazda hasn't gone before thanks to its added capability.
- Warranty: 3-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty; 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection, 24-hour roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Huntsville, Alabama.
- Manufacturer's website: Mazda