Mazda’s new take on one of our favorite crossovers results in a family ride just as practical as the CX-5, yet it looks more modern.
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is an exercise in expanding the reach of one of the best compact crossovers in the market; the Mazda CX-5. The two models are essentially the same underneath, yet the CX-50 caters to a younger, edgier, and more adventurous audience.
Our particular tester was the unique Meridian Edition, which features a rugged design and accessories that make it a must for outdoor enthusiasts. For starters, the Zircon Sand Metallic paint job is one of the most unique colors out there, combining a sort of military-ish sand color with a light touch of green. It always surprises you depending on how the light hits it. The other option available for this edition is Polymetal Gray Metallic.
The second is the tires. The Meridian Edition wears Falken all-terrain tires, which add just enough bite if you ever decide to venture off the road. Whether it’s dirt, mud, or sand, they offer a bit more capability than stock tires. It’s worth noting that these do not turn the CX-50 into a capable off-roader given that the crossover’s drivetrain remains unchanged, but having the right tires for the right adventure can make a difference. The all-terrain rubber is wrapped on a sleek set of 18-inch wheels.
Another detail of the Meridian Edition is the decal on the hood. It doesn’t affect its performance, of course, but it looks good. There are other accessories available for this trim, such as a roof rack, but our tester was not equipped with it.
On the Road
We had the chance to drive the CX-50 in a variety of conditions, from a brief road trip from Chicago to Indianapolis to running lots of errands around town, we got a good taste of the capable crossover over the course of a week. And because our test took place in February, we also encountered plenty of snow
There are two engine options for this model, and ours was equipped with the more powerful one: a 2.5-liter twin-turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces 327 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The engine is responsive and has a bit of a grunt, something that you don’t expect from a crossover of this size. It’s certainly more punchy than its counterpart.
On the road, the CX-50 is smooth and relatively quiet. The all-terrain tires generate a light droning sound because of their tread, but it’s not enough that people would be put off by it or cause any major annoyance. Another consequence of the CX-50 being wider and riding lower than the CX-5 is that the steering is slightly heavier. Again, it’s nothing extreme, but something to consider.
Speaking of the CX-50’s wider track, it really makes the crossover feel more stable while cornering. It’s not exactly agile—especially on all-terrains—but it isn’t a slouch either. Its lower center of gravity is noticeable on sharper turns and roundabouts.
Overall, the CX-50 is a comfortable and easy-to-drive crossover. We found it to be a pleasant place to be during our weeklong test, which isn’t a surprise considering the cabin is the same as the CX-5 we love so much.
Inside, there is plenty of space for five passengers and a ton of room for cargo in the trunk. Due to our recent move, we had a ton of whole and broken-down cardboard boxes. I was able to fold down the second row and extend the cargo area up to the back of the front seats.
Another cool characteristic of the Meridian Edition is the hard cover or hard backing on the trunk and rear seats. This made it extra easy to slide boxes into it. And had those boxes been wet dogs or other yucky stuff, it wouldn’t have gotten all over the carpeting. Really cool touch.
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is essentially a spin-off of our one or favorite crossovers, so it’s no surprise that we didn’t really find anything unfavorable. While we like the wider stance and more aggressive look of the new model, it does feel like it’s trying a bit too hard at times. The CX-5 is slightly more conservative and is less thirsty for looks.
Perhaps it was the color of the Meridian Edition and its wheels and tires that make it a bit too much for our personal taste. That being said, the CX-50 is a fantastic ride that gives consumers another option to enjoy a comfortable, reliable, and practical crossover. The Meridian Edition is simply an extra flavor of an already-good kind of ice cream. Not for everyone, but that’s okay!
- Starting Price: $41,225
- Price as tested: $41,620