2023 Mazda CX-50 Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Nov 16, 2021
  • New compact crossover SUV
  • Designed and engineered for more off-road adventure
  • Standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and AWD
  • Available turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Made in a new factory in Alabama
  • On sale in spring of 2022

With the all-new 2023 Mazda CX-50, the company best known for crafting cars and SUVs that are a pleasure to drive on the pavement is extending that same sensation of joy to moderately challenging off-roading environments.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Polymetal Gray Front Quarter View

A compact crossover SUV that Mazda will build in Alabama in a new joint-venture manufacturing facility with Toyota, the new 2023 CX-50 adopts a more rugged appearance and adventurous mission than the existing Mazda CX-5. Production begins early in 2022, and the Mazda CX-50 release date is the spring of 2022, just in time for summer road trips.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 specs chart includes a choice between two 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engines, one of which has a turbocharger that will help the SUV deliver class-leading power. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard, and electrified versions are also in the works, including a gas-electric Mazda CX-50 hybrid variant.

Exterior Features

2023 Mazda CX-50 Zircon Sand Rear Quarter Aerial View

Mazda says the CX-50 is based on the same platform as the CX-30 but is “significantly longer and wider” and is “optimized for the outdoors” with a more robust suspension made for challenging terrain. Within the Mazda SUV lineup, the CX-50 is similar in size to the CX-5 but features more ground clearance, a wider stance, and a strengthened roof designed for carrying more equipment.

Clearly more outdoorsy in terms of its design, the CX-50’s styling also conveys a more rugged appearance through lower body cladding and detailing, flared fenders, a wider track, and available upgrades such as all-terrain tires, a sturdy roof rack, and a matte-black hood decal. Fortunately, however, Mazda did not go overboard with the dark gray cladding and wheel arch trim, toning it down compared to the CX-30 and MX-30 models.

Additional CX-50 design elements worth noting include the blacked-out signature wing grille design, rear doors that open wide to make it easier to load the available roof-rack accessories, and a low roofline that serves that same purpose. Mazda also debuts a new Zircon Sand feature paint color on the new CX-50.

Interior Features

2023 Mazda CX-50 Interior Dashboard Front Seats

Bathed in natural light thanks to an available panoramic glass roof, the 2023 Mazda CX-50 interior offers more room for passengers and cargo space than the CX-30, with which it shares a platform. A new Terracotta leather color debuts on higher trim levels, complete with matching stitching on the dashboard.

Mazda’s signature round gauges with a central digital display are a model of clarity, flanked by vertical air vents on either side of the instrumentation. Aside from the climate controls and the engine start button, the dashboard is clean and minimalistic, while the center console houses the physical controls for the Mazda Connect infotainment system, the transmission shifter, the driving mode selector, and more.

Mazda CX-50 photos show a dual-zone automatic climate control system, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats as either standard or optional equipment. Rear passengers also benefit from air conditioning vents and a fold-down center armrest that likely contains cupholders.

Under the Hood

Two engines will be available in the 2023 CX-50 when the SUV goes on sale, with electrified versions to follow later. Mazda confirmed that a gas-electric hybrid is definitely on the way but will not be available at launch.

Standard equipment will include the automaker’s familiar SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 186 horsepower in the CX-30 and CX-5. A 6-speed automatic transmission with a Sport mode will transfer power to all four wheels.

Mazda also announced that a turbocharged version of this engine would be available in the CX-50. In other Mazda models, the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder generates a maximum of 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when burning 93-octane fuel. On regular gas, the engine makes 227 horses and 310 pound-feet.

While Mazda has confirmed it will offer both turbocharged and normally aspirated versions of its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the new CX-50, the specifications noted above are speculative based on existing Mazda models and are not final for the 2023 CX-50.

Mazda has confirmed that all CX-50 models will have the latest version of i-Activ AWD, in keeping with a recent announcement that all the company’s SUVs will include four driven wheels as standard equipment. The company also claims it strengthened the suspension for more durability on challenging terrain.

Additionally, a new Mazda Intelligent Drive (Mi-Drive) Select system offers four different driving modes: Sport, Normal, Off-Road, and Towing. The goal of each is to provide the same natural feel and responsive driving dynamics for which Mazdas are known in each of those settings.

Sport and Normal are similar to what Mazda already offers in its SUVs. Towing mode is specifically calibrated to account for the tongue weight of a trailer and the added motion a trailer typically introduces to a vehicle’s driving dynamics.

Purposely, a single Off-Road mode is available for the new CX-50. In creating this SUV, Mazda determined that because drivers typically face an ambiguous combination of challenges when driving off-pavement, addressing the most common with a single mode reduces confusion and maximizes performance. It is worth noting that while Mazda designed the CX-50 to be the most off-road-capable of the brand’s SUVs, it remains suitable for no more than moderate terrain.

As such, on gravel roads, the Off-Road mode aims to reduce oversteer in curves. If the CX-50 stops on a hill, the Off-Road mode tells the braking system to hold the SUV in place. It then adjusts engine idle higher to provide quicker access to engine torque and modifies torque converter lockup to make the best use of the 2.5-liter’s power for a smoother launch when the driver resumes travel.

Furthermore, Off-Road mode responds to a spinning wheel by braking the wheel without grip and the wheel diagonal to it, helping the CX-50 to navigate over uneven terrain such as dips and rocks.

Safety Systems

As part of the CX-50’s initial reveal, Mazda did not define the CX-50’s safety systems. However, it is reasonable to expect a collection of i-ActiveSense systems similar to those included on the CX-30.

As such, the list of 2023 Mazda CX-50 safety features likely includes:

Expected upgrades include:

  • Traffic jam assist
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic warning
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rear automatic braking
  • Adaptive front lighting system to help drivers see around curves and corners
  • A 360-degree surround-view camera system

Currently, all Mazda SUVs earn Top Safety Pick+ safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It is reasonable to assume that Mazda endeavors to achieve the same score with the new CX-50.

Infotainment and Technology

Expect the new CX-50 to feature the latest version of Mazda Connect, the company’s infotainment technology. The automaker did not provide any details related to the CX-50’s version of Mazda Connect. However, based on the widescreen display’s location on the dashboard, it is reasonable to conclude that it still doesn’t have a touchscreen display. Instead, the center console and steering wheel controls provide access to the features and functions, along with voice-recognition technology.

Likely standard and available highlights include:

  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Satellite radio
  • Connected services
  • Navigation system
  • Premium sound system

Mazda is also likely to offer its Active Driving Display head-up display technology on the CX-50, complete with traffic sign recognition information.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Competitors

When the new Mazda CX-50 goes in sale in the spring of 2022, it will compete with other compact SUVs aspiring to appeal to adventure seekers. Among them, you can include the Ford Bronco SportGMC Terrain AT4, Hyundai Tucson XRT, Jeep Compass and CherokeeKia Sportage X-Line and X-Pro, Subaru Crosstrek and Forester, and the appropriately named Toyota RAV4 Adventure.

Mazda and educated speculation by the author are the sources of information in this article. It was accurate as of November 15, 2021, but it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.

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