2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo W/Premium Plus Package - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss
It's A Right Sized Crossover!
Special Correspondent, West Coast Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
I'll get my major criticism of the CX-50 out of the way right up front. No one outside of Mazda knows where it fits in the line-up without checking the web site. Mazda has one vehicle everyone knows - Miata (they tried to confuse us by calling it the MX-5 Miata but that didn't work) - and the rest are all alpha numeric. At first they kind of made sense, the smaller the number the smaller the vehicle. But now I don't know. There is a CX-5 but a CX-30 is smaller. The largest is a CX-9 not the CX-50. Confused yet? Whatever you call it I liked it.
Okay that's it for criticism.
The CX-50 is 185.8" long on a wheelbase of 110.8". The area behind the rear seat is 42.6" long and between 40.2" (between wheel arches) and 55".6" wide giving a 31.4 cubic feet of storage when carrying 5 people, up to 56.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. One big plus is that the load-in height of 28.4" means you don't have to hoist up whatever you're loading.
No the CX-50 is not a replacement for your Suburban. It's a right sized Crossover for an average family. And in today's world the fuel economy is what you should be looking at. US EPA rates the fuel economy at 23-mpg city and 29 highway for the test CX-50; I saw 34.4-mpg on round trip to Pleasanton from Tracy. That's with the cruise set at 70 mph up and down the Altamont (a 1,000' hill). I was pretty impressed.
Although there is just a tad over 8" of ground clearance you do not need a step ladder, or even running boards, to get in or out. This gets more important with age (mine not the cars').
The CX-50 isn't the fastest vehicle out there but it does okay. Zero to 60 mph comes up in around 6.6 seconds with the top of the line turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Horsepower and torque are between 227-256 hp and 310-320 lb-ft depending on the octane of the gas you use - 93 octane gets you the most power.
I'm really liking today's turbo engines. Gone is the dreaded turbo lag. Power from the SkyActive Turbo is smooth with the added benefit of a nice whine/growl from the engine as power builds.
The transmission is a 6-speed automatic and AWD is standard. There are three modes for the transmission - Econ, Snow, and Sport. Of course Econ is the default and truth be told it wasn't bad.
One possible downside is the towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. for this model. That is enough for a small boat and trailer, or a tent trailer though.
You want to know what was so remarkable about the CX-50? That it was unremarkable; it just did its job well. Comfortable? Check. Ease of entry/exit? Check. Good storage space? Check. Really good fuel economy? Check? Good acceleration? Check. Nimble handling? Check. Really other than the name I couldn't find a fault.
Styling? That's up to you. On the plus side it is distinctive and looks like other Mazda models. There is something to say about brand identity. I'd definitely choose a paint color other than Polymetal Gray Metallic; I'm really not into that much stealth.
In today's world the price is not outrageous. Base price for the test CX-50 is $41,550. It is very well equipped. You can get a less expensive CX-50, one without the turbo engine starting at $26,800.