Mazda’s newest crossover, the 2023 CX-50, looks to capture the same successful formula as its existing SUVs: attractive looks, a luxurious interior, and—we hope—an engaging driving experience. While Mazda isn’t providing dimensions, it appears to be similar in size to the CX-5, giving Mazda yet another entrant in the popular compact-crossover segment. Although the two models will be sold alongside each other for the time being, we expect the CX-50 to eventually replace the CX-5, much like what happened with the smaller CX-30 and the CX-3.
Mazda is pitching the CX-50 as more of an off-road-oriented SUV with higher ground clearance than the CX-5 and available rugged-style accessories, but it is still a unibody crossover and based on the same transverse architecture as the Mazda 3 and CX-30. Mazda says it’s slightly longer than the CX-5 and claims that it has more room for rear-seat passengers. Mazda’s upcoming longitudinal architecture and inline-six engine won’t arrive until the larger CX-70 and CX-90 crossovers make their debut.
The CX-50’s styling plays up this rugged angle with lots of black plastic cladding around the wheel wells, front and rear bumper trim meant to look like skid plates, and black and silver wheels. It’s also available in a trendy tan exterior color called Zircon Sand, and the models pictured here feature accessories including a roof rack, hood graphics, and optional all-terrain tires. Apart from these add-ons, we like the handsome, squared-off shape and the modern-looking headlights and taillights and think the CX-50 looks even better than the already stylish CX-5.
The familiar 2.5-liter inline-four will be under the hood, both in naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms that will likely produce around the same 187 hp and 250 hp as they do in the CX-5. All-wheel drive will be standard equipment, and a six-speed automatic transmission pairs with both engines. A hybrid model will join the lineup later, but Mazda isn’t yet sharing details on that powertrain other than saying it will feature a Toyota hybrid setup. Otherwise, Mazda claims that there are no parts shared between the CX-50 and the smaller Toyota Corolla Cross that’s built in the same factory.
The CX-50 is a five-seater, and from what we can see of the interior it looks to feature a similar dashboard design as other Mazda models. A touchscreen mounted on the upper part of the dash is controlled by a knob on the center console. The more expensive trim levels feature plush materials such as leather upholstery, available in a nice shade of brown, and a panoramic sunroof will be optional. Like other Mazdas, we expect the CX-50’s cabin to trend closer to the luxury end of the spectrum than many of its mainstream competitors, including the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The CX-50 will offer a new drive-mode selector that includes off-road and towing modes in addition to the Sport mode that is offered on most current Mazdas. These settings adjust features such as throttle response, steering feedback, and the tuning of Mazda’s G-vectoring control system.
Mazda hasn’t yet released pricing for the CX-50, but we expect it to cost a bit more than the CX-5, which starts at $27,945 with all-wheel drive. It will be built at Mazda’s new factory in Alabama that is shared with Toyota and will start production in 2022, going on sale in the spring.
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