The car making business is caught up in a tug of war between the desire to build out its electric future and a huge array of customers who want nothing more than a plain old crossover or utility vehicle, capable of carrying four or five passengers and a load of luggage or sporting equipment.
The 2023 Mazda CX-50, one of the newest utility vehicles to reach the market, is a case in point. It is not an EV by any means and is unlikely to turn heads with its rather anonymous two-box profile. But it is versatile and the package I drove, while on the pricey side for a compact vehicle, included plenty of the latest technology. In addition, the interior was roomy with room for passenger stuff.
Mazda also has a penchant for endowing its vehicles, even its utility vehicles, with spirit, and the CX-50 certainly benefits from the company’s knack for turning out machines that are fun to drive. The CX-50 also comes from a brand-new factory owned jointly by Mazda and Toyota in Alabama. Toyota, with its earned reputation for building reliable vehicles, is responsible for the day-to-day operations.
The exterior sheet metal of the 2023 CX-50 was given a complete makeover to separate it from the CX-5. The edges have been rounded off and the rear-liftgate has been cleaned up so it’s less fussy and fits neatly in the curve on the back end. The front fascia also has been given a makeover, and the Mazda emblem now sits in the middle of a more distinctive front grille.
The headlight mounts have been recessed at the front corners and all four corners have been dressed up with distinctive wheel designs. The vehicle I drove also was equipped with roof rails and sunroof to help illuminate the interior on dark winter day. Nonetheless despite the changes and efforts of Mazda’s exterior designers to provide the CX-50 with some personality, it is very difficult to break out of the two-box mold.
The cabin of the Mazda CX-50 is furnished with a nice mix of materials. The version I drove had a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-trimmed seats, and soft material on the inner door panels as well as on the instrument panel along the bright work and plastic inserts. The ambience was not luxurious, but comfortable, and the cabin has ample room.
The controls were within easy reach. The screen for entertainment did not dominate the center stack area but was placed horizontally into the instrument panel where it was both out of the way and easy to read. The lighting inside the cabin was effective during night driving without being a distraction. Visibility from the driver’s seat was very good and the second-row seats were easy to use, and there was ample room in the space under the liftgate.
The Mazda CX-50 was equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 6-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s i-active all-wheel-drive system. It also had paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The powertrain produces 227 horsepower and 310 horsepower.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the CX-50 has a combined fuel-economy rating of 25 miles per gallon including 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on highway, which is not the top of its class but competitive with the other vehicles in what is a crowded segment. It is also equipped with hill-launch assist if you happen to have steep driveway.
Safety and Technology
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is equipped with multiple airbags as well driver assistance features such as lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive headlights.
It is also equipped with driver attention alert, radar-based cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, and a 360-view monitor. It also comes with wireless charging and four USB ports, Sirius/XM Radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth and Mazda Connected Services.
The best part of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is its impressive driving dynamics. The 2.5-liter turbo puts out more than enough power and the 6-speed automatic transmission delivers it to the wheels without missing a beat.
The ride and handling are supported by a strong suspension and augmented further by the vehicle’s G-vectoring controls and dynamic stability control system. The impressive underpinnings make the CX-50 fun to drive even on a very ordinary errand or out on the highway where the power and handling can be put to effective use.
2023 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Specifications
|Dimension||L: 185.8 inches/W: 72.9 inches/H: 63.9 inches/Wheelbase: 110.8 inches|
|Powertrain||2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission and AWD|
|Fuel Economy||23 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||221 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $36,400; As tested: $43,170 including $1,225 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
After my week with the vehicle on suburban and urban streets and freeways, I came away impressed. There is an impressive amount of technology integrated into the vehicle without being a distraction and versatility built in the vehicle and it can make a daily commute more interesting and everyday errands a bit more fun. The price, however, is a drawback. This is a compact vehicle but it carries a $43,170 price tag, which pushes it into what used to be luxury vehicle territory not long ago. But times are changing and prices for all kinds of vehicles are exploding.
2023 Mazda CX-50 Turbo — Frequently Asked Questions
How many seats does the Mazda CX-50 have?
The CX-50 has a five-passenger seating capacity. It has a similar dashboard design as other Mazda models, along with a touchscreen that can be controlled via a knob on the center console. Higher trims of the CX-50 will offer premium features like leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof.
What paint options are available on the new Mazda CX-50?
Upgraded paints also are available on the new CX-50. Polymetal Gray Metallic, Wind Chill Pearl, and Ziron Sand Metallic are available for $395, while Machine Gray Metallic and Mazda’s beautiful Soul Red Crystal Mica are an extra $595.
How does the 2023 Mazda CX-50 work?
Two 2.5-liter engines, both 4-cylinders, will be available in the new 2023 Mazda CX-50. Both mated to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission that directs sends power to all four wheels via a torque transfer clutch at the rear differential.