The popular Mazda CX-5 has been a staple in the company’s lineup since debuting 11 years ago.
It’s been tasked with competing against some heavy hitters in the compact SUV class, including the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, and
Volkswagen Tiguan. Even amongst a stout field, the CX-5 has fared well, generating sales of 111,000 or more since 2015, including a high of 168,448 a year ago.
Coming off its greatest sales year, the CX-5 now faces one more worthy rival. Oddly, it’s the 2023 Mazda CX-50. That’s right, Mazda has decided to manufacture another compact SUV that eventually may ease past its older sibling.
There are a lot of similarities with the CX-50 and CX-5. When matched up head-to-head, the CX-50 rates a little higher in many categories. The new SUV is longer and wider than the CX-5 and also has a higher ground clearance. When comparing interiors, the CX-50 delivers more leg room and offers a larger cargo area.
The CX-50’s ground clearance of 8.6 inches (compared to 7.9 inches for the Mazda-5) allows the more rugged small SUV to navigate over rougher terrain in doing some light off-roading. A more advanced all-wheel-drive capability gives the CX-50 the chops to take on the elements. It also has more towing capacity; its 3,500 pounds are 1,500 more than the CX-5.
There are similarities as well. Both employ the same two engines, including an optional turbocharged model. From an interior standpoint, both SUVS have essentially the same technology and safety features. Even though the CX-50 is slightly pricier, the sticker price for the two SUVS is nearly identical.
The CX-50 is the Mazda’s first vehicle produced at the new Huntsville, Ala. plant that is a joint venture with Toyota. The SUV provides solid performance, sharp handling, a comfortable, spacious cabin, and has an attractive exterior highlighted by its wide fenders. It would be tough to find a compact SUV with more diversity, evidenced by its 10 trim models (S, Select, Preferred, Preferred Plus, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo, Turbo Meridian, Turbo Premium, Turbo Premium Plus).
The base engine for the CX-50 is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that generates 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It can travel 0-60 mph in a mediocre 8.0 seconds and fuel economy is 24-30 mpg. The more powerful optional engine is a turbo 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that produces 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds and gets 22-28 mpg
The agile CX-50 provides athletic handling that make it fun to drive on challenging roads. Standard driver assistance safety features include frontal collision mitigation; blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; lane keeping assist; adaptive cruise control; and automatic high beams.
The interior of the CX-50 has a nice feel, thanks in part to soft padding on the dash and very few hard surfaces. It features an 8.8-inch touchscreen that is intuitive and comes with buttons and knobs, instead of linking everything to the touchscreen. The SUV comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and has wireless connectivity on all trims.
AT A GLANCE – 2023 MAZDA CX-50
- Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 187 horsepower; turbocharged 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 256 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 24-30 mpg; 22-28 mpg
- Price estimate: $26,900 to $41,700
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
The cargo area is average for the class – 31.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row that expands to 56.3 cubes with the rear seats folded down. The CX-50 seats five passengers, including three on the back seat rear bench that can easily accommodate adults.
The starting sticker price of roughly $26,900 is high for the compact SUV class. Yet the new 2023 Mazda CX-50 has much to offer, delivering good performance and handling, solid interior, and the ability to do some mile off-roading. The only issue is it’s a definite competitor for the Mazda CX-5, so one wonders what the impact will bring.