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Get Behind the Wheel: Our In-Depth Review of the 2023 Mazda CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is ready to make a statement. With a zesty turbo engine, high-class cabin, and pleasing driving experience, Mazda has set a new standard for the compact SUV class. However, it's not without its drawbacks, such as wireless smartphone charging only being offered on top trims and the CX-50 offering less headroom than its predecessor, the CX-5. Yet, the CX-50 manages to deliver refinement and driving joy in a way that only a Mazda can, cementing its place in the compact SUV market.

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Things are getting busy at Mazda. The Japanese manufacturer will present two new plug-in hybrid models during the year. At Mazda, the electric shift is not happening at the same pace or behind the same philosophy as elsewhere. But in the meantime, it is working on making another kind of change, this time with its gasoline engines and with its image. The CX-50 made its debut late in 2022. It takes the essential elements of its smaller cousin CX-5, offering a little more space, but above all, a more robust, more adventurous style.

So, Mazda has added a new nameplate to its already impressive lineup, and it's set to take on the competition with a fierce determination. The 2023 CX-50 SUV is well-equipped to face off against its compact crossover rivals, including the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4. With a choice of 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.

Furthermore, a hybrid version is 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, resulting in an athletic handling experience that's similar to those two winners. Though it's only slightly larger than Mazda's CX-5 SUV, the CX-50 boasts rugged styling, which is a departure from the more refined, upscale designs found elsewhere in the Mazda lineup.

2023 CX-50 Trims and Prices

Trims and prices for the all-new 2023 Mazda CX-50 have been officially announced, and buyers will have a wide range of options to choose from. Starting with the Base model at $28,825, the lineup includes the Select at $30,225, the Preferred at $31,525, and the Preferred Plus at $33,965. Stepping up to the Premium model will cost $36,425, while the Premium Plus and Turbo models both come in at $38,425. Opting for the Turbo Premium model will set buyers back $41,575, and those looking for a unique touch may want to consider the Meridian Edition at $41,620. The top-of-the-line Turbo Premium Plus is priced at $43,575.

2023 Mazda CX-50 back exterior

While the variety of trims may seem overwhelming, we recommend going with the Turbo model. For just a few thousand dollars more than the Premium, 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. With the Turbo model, buyers get the perfect balance of power, luxury, and value, making it a standout option in the CX-50 lineup.

Last week Torque News test-drove the 2023 Mazda CX-50's Premium Plus package AWD, which actually had 227 hp, 3 lb-ft of torque and Skyactive-Drive 6 SPD.

2023 Mazda CX-50 engine

The CX-50 has two engine options: a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated Skyactive-G inline-four that produces 187 horsepower and a turbocharged version that outputs either 227 or 256 horsepower depending on the type of fuel used.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, which contributes to the SUV's fun-to-drive reputation. Mazda has designed the CX-50 to offer accurate steering and crisp handling without sacrificing ride comfort. The new SUV will also receive a hybrid model later on, which will use a powertrain from Toyota. It is expected to be the same powertrain found in the RAV4 Hybrid, featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, with a combined output of 219 horsepower. This new hybrid Mazda CX-50 version will provide additional fuel efficiency and further expand the CX-50's appeal to eco-conscious buyers.

From what I understand The most efficient Mazda 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. The Turbo Premium Plus Package, which is the top trim and which we reviewed at Torque News, gets a 25 mpg combined and 23-29 city/highway respectively. The upcoming hybrid version should do much better, considering how much the hybrid technologies have developed in the past decade.

Exterior

Let's be clear, the CX-50 is not a bloated or modified CX-5 for the off-road. The newest addition to Mazda's utility family uses the latest CX-30 and Mazda3 platform, but is wider and longer than those vehicles. Mazda has also upgraded the suspension to make it strong and absorbent enough to handle the rough terrain it will face.

Above all, its outer shell is designed to measure up to these natural elements, unlike the CX-5, which generally has more fun in town or on the highway.

From a distance, the 2023 CX-50 may look like the Mazda CX-5. If you don't know these cars well, you probably won't see much difference. On the other hand, the connoisseur will notice the few curves that are above the wheels of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 and the plastic that surrounds the entire lower body as well as the headlights that adopt a new design specific to the new Mazda models.

The grille of the Mazda CX-50 is positioned slightly higher and its shape is more rectangular than on the CX-5. I really liked the transition between the grille and the headlights which contributes to the adventurous aspect of the vehicle.

I think I can consider the CX-50 as the adventurer of the Mazda family. Just like the Outback Wilderness at Subaru, the CX-50 was built to tackle off-roading, if we stay within reason of course. For me it did really well in the roads of Charlotte, NC.

Interior of the 2023 Mazda CX-50

The CX-50 is pretty comfortable inside.

No complaints about the driving position thanks to the tilting and telescopic steering. The steering wheel and front seats are heated in all versions, while the ventilation of the upholstery and the heating of the rear side seats are the privilege of the GT models.

Accessibility to the controls is good and intuitive, with a vertical gear selector on the center console, where the drive modes and electronic parking brake are also located.

2023 Mazda CX-50 front interior

The visibility towards all angles is good, with large windows with a safe visual field. The exterior mirrors have a blind spot sensor with light and sound from the dashboard, added to automatic dimming.

Similar to its crossover siblings, the CX-5 and CX-30, the Mazda CX-50 boasts ample room for up to five passengers across two rows of seats. The interior features spacious square dashboard vents that lend the vehicle a slightly more rugged aesthetic than the CX-30, although it maintains a sophisticated ambiance, particularly in the well-appointed Premium Plus trim. The front seats provide comfortable and supportive seating, while the backseat offers ample space for passengers, although it is worth noting that the CX-5 provides more headroom. All CX-50 models come equipped with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, push-button start, and a partially digital gauge display.

The second row bench seat is firm, but welcoming, largely thanks to its clearance, USB ports and heater nozzles.

2023 Mazda CX-50 back seat

You will love the feeling of space on board. The width of the vehicle (about 3 inches more than the CX-5) and the reasonable elevation of the dashboard favor the horizontal shapes which contribute to this impression of freedom. The first panoramic roof ever offered by Mazda does not detract from this enchantment either.

Near the dashboard of the CX-50 are a storage tray and two cupholders with a diameter good enough for as many bottles of water. The double-covered center armrest, which hides a deep storage box and USB ports, is much more practical.

The CX-50 may be the largest vehicle in its class, but its cargo capacity does not surpass that of its competitors: 1,595 liters with the seatbacks lowered versus 1,786 L for a RAV-4 and 2,166 L for the CR -V, the champ.

2023 Mazda CX-50 trunk

In fact, the CX-50's cargo bay depth and width exceed those of the Toyota and Honda, but rivals benefit from a higher ceiling. A deliberate choice by Mazda, which wanted to make it easier to use the roof rails when tying up toys (like kayaks) or setting up a tent. At least the CX-50's trunk offers slick space.

Infotainment in Mazda CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 comes with a Mazda Connect infotainment system, which includes an 8.8-inch display in the base trim, and a larger 10.3-inch display in all other trims. The interface is controlled via a click wheel mounted on the center console. All models come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard eight-speaker stereo can be upgraded to a 12-speaker Bose stereo with SiriusXM satellite radio in the Premium and Premium Plus models. A wireless phone charger is only available on the top Turbo Premium Plus trim.

Driving The 2023 Mazda CX-50

Thanks to a secret engineering recipe, driving the 2023 CX-50 is energizing. The steering is precise as I mentioned above, even if its column shows a certain heaviness.

The 0-60 acceleration takes 8.5 seconds with the standard-engine 2023 CX-50. When you press the accelerator to fit into dense traffic, the maneuver is carried out without ever worrying. At least with the turbo.

2023 Mazda CX-50 front exterior

The suspension of the CX-50 is with ups and downs, as it should be. On regular pavement the car is in control and comfort is there.

One thing that I particularly liked in this vehicle was its ground clearance. Since the CX-50 is intended for excursions in the forest, its ground clearance is higher than that of the CX-5 by about an inch. But it will also depend on the size of the wheels.

To conclude: In a market that is increasingly crowded with SUVs, it seems difficult to break out of the mold, and although several brands have succeeded, few have done so with such an integral product. I will look forward to the hybrid version of the CX-50, or even one day perhaps Mazda introduces an EV version of the CX-50. I think that day is coming. But in the meantime, I think the 2023 CX-50 is a winning vehicle in terms of the comprehensiveness it offers, making it competitive with vehicles such as Chevrolet Equinox , Ford Escape Ecoboost, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail.

Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.

Reference: Auto123, Car and Driver.

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