Last year, we spent a week with the 2022 Mazda CX-5 and fell in love. Enter the 2023 Mazda CX-50, a more rugged and sporty entry to the Mazda SUV lineup. It’s longer, wider and lower, and it definitely catches your eye going down the road. Our Premium Plus tester came pretty much fully loaded, and we can’t imagine wanting anything more in a daily driver — especially when fitted with Mazda’s wonderful turbocharged engine.
Price and value
Mazda’s been pushing the upscale market for a few years now, and with the new CX-50, it’s more evident than ever it’s here to compete with the big boys. The MSRP range for the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is $27,550-$42,300. It is available in 10 trim levels, with a suite of standard features that includes all-wheel drive. Some of the major differences in trim levels are noted below.
- 2.5 S: $27,550
Wireless Apple CarPlay
Mazda radar cruise control w/ Stop & Go
- 2.5 S Select: $28,950
Dual zone automatic climate control
10.3-inch infotainment display
17-inch alloy wheels with black metallic finish
- 2.5 S Preferred: $30,250
Programmable power liftgate
8-way power adjustable driver’s seat
3-level heated front seats
- 2.5 S Preferred Plus: $32,690
Power sliding glass panoramic moonroof
Dual exhaust outlets
- 2.5 S Premium: $35,150
6-way power adjustable front passenger seat
12-speaker Bose surround sound system
- 2.5 S Premium Plus: $37,150
20-inch aluminum alloy wheels
Active driving display
Ventilated front seats
- 2.5 Turbo: $37,150
Mazda Intelligent Drive Select with towing mode
2.5-liter engine with twin-scroll turbo and i-Stop
Towing capacity up to 3,500 pounds
- 2.5 Turbo Meridian Edition: $39,950
18-inch aluminum alloy wheels with black metallic finish and black lug nuts
225/60 R18 all-terrain tires
Meridian edition hood graphics
- 2.5 Turbo Premium: $40,300
Active driving display
12-speaker Bose surround sound system
Ventilated front seats
- 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus: $42,300
Heated rear seats
Wireless phone charger
360-degree surround view monitor
Mazda’s prices have been creeping up over the last few years, but it’s for good reason. Its models are packed with value. The CX-50 continues the Mazda trend of offering luxurious features, handsome styling, performance and engaging driving dynamics. The CX-50’s warranties are par for the course, with a limited warranty good for three years or 36,000 miles and a powertrain warranty good for five years or 60,000 miles.
The Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus’s performance is exceptional for this segment. Everything about it makes for a fun, engaging, refined driving experience seldom found on these levels — all the while being uber practical.
The 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a gem. It produces 256 horsepower and a robust 320 pound-feet of torque. It’s surprisingly torquey and almost diesel-like in its power output. It’s quick, too. Car and Driver clocked it at 6.6 seconds from 0-60 mph. Hustling this compact SUV around corners and freeway on-ramps is much more fun than it should be — especially considering its relatively old-school pairing with a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission.
Lest you think the 6-speed hampers fuel economy, it doesn’t. We averaged just over the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimated 25 mpg combined rating in our week of testing. Not bad for an all-wheel drive crossover. The EPA estimates 23/29 for city and highway driving, respectively.
Acceleration and handling
The rest of the driving dynamics are also excellent. Handling is direct and on center. The steering has significant heft and was a nice change to the light steering rampant in the segment. But, we could see how it could become tiring and too laborious for some drivers. The suspension also contributed to the CX-50’s responsive behavior. It’s firm, but not too stiff. Smaller wheels and thicker sidewall tires would be a benefit here.
Interior comfort and convenience
Mazda is playing above its price point here, and it should make some of the more expensive competition nervous. The comfort, design and materials are all good and give off a modern, minimalist vibe. The CX-50 is a genuinely great place to spend time and has all the features you could want for year-round comfort.
Sliding into the seats is easy to do, given the just right ride height of the CX-50. You’re treated to nicely bolstered seats — but not too aggressive— and comfortable, soft, perforated leather. They’re heated (as are the rear outboard seats) and ventilated, and both features work wonderfully. The rear seat space is surprisingly generous. Two adults can easily fit, as can children in car seats. However, taller, long-torsoed occupants might find their hair brushing the roof.
There are some buttons for the climate controls, and they look and feel high quality with nice materials and resistance when pushed.
Cargo space and cabin storage
Cargo space is generous. Our family of four took a weekend trip up to Snowbird and had just enough space for all our gear. Cabin storage was about average, with a decently sized center console, standard size door pockets, sunglasses storage, etc. The panoramic moonroof was also a nice touch, letting in lots of natural light and giving the cabin an open, airy feeling.
Contributing to the minimalist style is the simple dash layout. The nice, 10.3-inch infotainment display looks sharp and works well, and the dial functionality is easy to get used to.
Exterior appearance and functionality
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is about 6.5 inches longer and 3.0 inches wider than the CX-5, with a 2.0-inch lower roofline. It also boasts about an inch more ground clearance than its sibling, which plays well with the CX-50’s flared fenders and black cladding.
Contributing to the adventurous personality of the CX-50 is the 3,500-pound towing capacity. We didn’t get a chance to tow with it, but MotorTrend did and was impressed by the SUV’s stability when loaded up.
You won’t be going down any Moab trails with the CX-50, but light dirt roads and trails will suit it just fine. Just don’t pop a tire with its 20-inch wheels — a questionable design choice for buyers truly looking to get off the beaten path. It’s a handsome looking SUV that balances the refined, rugged aesthetic well.
Cameras and side mirrors
The Premium Plus trim also adds some nice features, such as a 360-degree surround camera. Thanks to the beautiful infotainment display and high-quality cameras, seeing your surroundings is simple and clear.
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is about as safe as it gets.
Awards and ratings
The CX-50 was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It had not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as of this writing. However, judging by the five-star overall rating for the CX-5, the CX-50 should do just fine.
The SUV’s impressive testing is the result of its many safety features.
- Lane keep assist
- Blind spot monitoring
- Traffic jam assist
- Radar cruise control with Stop & Go
- Dynamic stability control
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Click here for a full list of safety features on the CX-50.
The Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus is an example of what many crossovers strive to be but often come up short. Even more expensive offerings don’t hold a candle to much of what the CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus does well — which is pretty much everything. Sure, the steering is a bit heavy and the ride a bit stiff, but other than that it’s an extremely well-rounded crossover, a near perfect daily driver. We would recommend the CX-50 to anybody looking for a fun, stylish and versatile daily driver, especially in the Premium Plus trim. Fully loaded with the turbocharged engine is the way to go here, as it provides lots of power without sacrificing much in terms of fuel economy.
Interested in the CX-50? Find one on KSL Cars.
Is the Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus fast?
It’s certainly no slouch, but it’s also not blindingly fast. The 320 pound-feet of torque is lots of fun and provides ample thrust whenever you need it. It’s almost diesel-like in its power application.
Is the Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus good for families?
Definitely. The rear doors open wide for easy access, and there was plenty of room in the rear seat for our two kids and their child seats. The cargo area held all of our gear for a weekend getaway and should be plenty of room for strollers, diaper bags and all the ponies your 4-year-old can carry.
KSL Cars does not endorse any vehicles. The views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect the views or opinions of KSL.com or its employees.