The 2023 CX-50 compact SUV is an all-new addition to the Mazda lineup. It’s a tad bigger than the Mazda CX-5, and differs from it in other ways including a more outdoorsy design, higher ground clearance, and enhanced off-road ability.
CX-50 pricing starts at $28,025 with a $1,225 destination charge included. That’s about $900 more than the CX-5.
All CX-50 models come with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. There’s a choice between two engines, determined by trim level: a 187-horsepower four- cylinder or a turbocharged version of the same engine with 256 horsepower.
Fuel economy ratings for the regular engine are 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. For the turbo, the numbers are 23/29/25 mpg.
In good news, Mazda has announced plans to produce electrified versions of the CX-50, including a hybrid model, with details coming at a later date.
Beginning with the base CX-50 model, the 187-hp engine is used in the first six trim levels (S, Select, Preferred, Preferred Plus, Premium, and Premium Plus). The turbo engine arrives at the $37,625 level and is found in the top three models (Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus). CX-50 pricing tops out at $42,775 for the Turbo Premium Plus version.
An off-road targeted CX-50 Turbo Meridian Edition model is set to arrive later this year, wearing 18-inch black wheels, all-terrain tires, hood graphics, and exclusive headlight and side rocker treatments.
The CX-50 can be compared to a pair of Eddie Bauer’s Rainier nylon pants: well made, comfortable, stylish, rugged, suitable for all-season and all-occasion use. Just like the Rainier pants can be dressed up or dressed down, the CX-50 can be a total trouper all day on dirt roads in the Cascades, then pull into the Four Seasons Seattle valet parking area with panache. Taking it to a car wash first is recommended.
CX-50’s top-notch interior would look right at home in a compact SUV costing quite a bit more. It has seating for five with generous legroom even in the second row. Construction is solid, seats are comfortable, unwanted noise is largely eliminated, and the ride stays smooth except during ragged pavement sections at freeway speeds that would challenge most car suspensions.
Various places inside and outside the CX-50 are designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind, to provide stowage for related gear and equipment as well as easy access. The cargo area is one example. Deeper than it is wide, it’s a better fit for coolers, backpacks and other items. The opening is flush with the floor, for sliding heavy items in and out without the strain of hoisting them from below. It was a godsend for me when hauling my personal outdoor equipment: 40-pound bags of black oil sunflower seeds and 50-pound bags of cracked corn.
At the helm of the CX-50, fun prevails. Responsive steering, speedy acceleration, and stability on zigzag roads are Mazda fixtures.
2023 MAZDA CX-50 2.5 TURBO PREMIUM PLUS
Base price, including destination charge: $42,775
Price as driven: $43,170
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.