The Car Connection Mazda CX-50 Overview
The Mazda CX-50 is a five-seat crossover SUV that is slightly larger than the Mazda CX-5. It shares a platform and much of its running gear with the smaller Mazda CX-30 crossover, but Mazda positions it as an off-road-capable crossover with all of the on-road comfort and handling expected from Mazda's other crossover SUVs.
The first Mazda made in America, the CX-50 is built in Alabama alongside the Toyota Corolla Cross at a factory shared by the Japanese automakers. Mazda says the only thing the crossovers share are a few paint colors.
MORE: Read our 2023 Mazda CX-50 preview
The CX-50 follows a trend of compact crossovers upfitted with rugged appearance packages and more off-road capability. The Toyota RAV4 comes with Adventure or TRD Pro trims that fit the bill, and Ford used the Escape platform to build the Ford Bronco Sport. The Subaru Forester Wilderness, Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, and Honda Passport Trailsport follow the same tack.
The new Mazda CX-50
Like those other vehicles, the CX-50 comes with black cladding over square wheel arches and available 18-inch wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. Even though its longer and wider than the CX-5, it's not as tall despite having a higher ground clearance. The long nose with short overhangs aspire to appear taller with vertical air intakes below the wing-tipped Mazda grille. Out back, dual exhaust pipes flank a lower bumper with a fake skid plate.
Two engine options carry over from other Mazda vehicles, including a 2.5-liter inline-4 and a 2.5-liter turbo-4 that come with a 6-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. The system includes a more advanced traction control system to distribute torque to the wheels with the most grip, and grab the wheels that slip. It also holds wheels on hill ascents to prevent rollback and overall tries to replicate what the driver would expect from the vehicle on-road when they opt to go off-road on rutted access roads or gravel.
The console toggle for drive modes expands from other Mazda vehicles to include Off-Road and Towing modes. A lower roof height and wide rear door openings make strapping gear to the available roof rack easier, and the cargo hold is optimized for adventure lifestyle activities, Mazda says.
Specs, pricing, and features are forthcoming, but expect it to come with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors and other standard driver-assist features, as well as an 8.8-inch display screen with smartphone compatibility. The infotainment system can be controlled by steering wheel controls, a console dial, or voice commands but not by a touchscreen.