The Mazda CX-5 is easily one of the best compact SUVs that you can buy and now Mazda is hoping that it can keep that same magic going with the slightly larger CX-50. The extra “0” in the name places the CX-50 above the CX-5, but below the CX-7 in Mazda’s SUV lineup.
The CX-50 is actually not based on the same platform as the CX-5 and instead it gets the newer platform thats shared with the Mazda 3 and CX-30. Compared to the CX-5, the CX-50 is 5.7-inches longer and 3.0-inches wider. The 2.2-inch lower roofline gives the CX-50 a sleeker and sportier profile.
The CX-50 is also more adventure ready with its higher ground clearance, which sits at 8.3-inches with the S models and 8.6-inches for the Turbo.
The good news is that the CX-50’s larger footprint gives it more interior space, which is something we’ve often criticized the CX-5 for. There’s more legroom for passengers in the second row and more cargo space.
Just like the rest of the Mazda lineup, the CX-50’s interior feels premium and luxurious with its minimalistic design. The overall look and feel are close to what you get in Mazda’s other SUVs.
An 8.8-inch infotainment display is standard, while a larger 10.3-inch display is optional. Just like in every other Mazda, we are not a fan of the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The infotainment system is operated via a knob on the center console. If you want a touchscreen you have to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but that only works when you aren’t moving down the road. If you’d rather rely on the CX-50’s operating system, then you’re stuck with the frustrating knob,
Buyers can choose from two four-cylinder engines for the CX-50. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged version adds a twin-scroll turbocharger to give it 256 hp and 320 lb-ft. on premium fuel or 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. on 87 octane fuel. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. A hybrid version is coming too.
The naturally aspirated version is rated at 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, while the turbo is rated at 23/29/25 mpg.
On the road, the CX-50 feels sportier than the CX-5, thanks to its wider stance and lower center of gravity. The CX-50 feels more planted to the road with little body roll, making it more fun to drive than many of its rivals. The turbocharged engine packs lots of low end torque to get you moving from a stop or merging on a highway with ease.
The CX-50 also features four drive modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road and Towing. The Sport mode doesn’t adjust the suspension, but it does tighten up the steering a bit and the responsiveness of the powertrain. The Off-Road mode is a first and is designed to help make the CX-50 more capable on the trails, but it’s not a hardcore system without settings for sand or mud.
If towing is your thing, the S models can tow up to 2,000 pounds, while the turbo version can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The pricing for the 2023 Mazda CX-50 starts at $28,825, including destination.
While its name may make you think the CX-50 is simply a version of the CX-5, that is in fact not the case. The CX-50 elevates the brand’s compact crossover with sophisticated styling, a premium interior and the sportier driving characteristics than you normally get in this class.