It’s my favorite time of the year. The weather is cooling, pumpkins are ripening, and soon, leaves will be falling. Urbanites make their way to the country to enjoy harvest while country mice go into the city for shopping and patio dining. Whether you’re going on a date, picking up crates of apples, or taking your friends on adventure, a sporty and luxurious crossover like the 2023 Mazda CX-50 will get you there.
Mazdas are known for their suave elegance, but the CX-50 goes for masculine attire. This one looks like it could actually tackle more than a pumpkin patch with its accentuated fenders, black cladding, 20” wheels, and front facia trim that hints at skidplates. The wide rump and luggage rails confirm plenty of space for cargo. Keeping Mazda’s upscale aura, LED lamps glisten front and rear.
Even those getting out of BMWs will want for little when they slide inside. Our luxury trim welcomed with soft adobe brown leather, dash coverings with contrasting stitching, and twin doors center console. Both rows of seats are heated, the fronts are also ventilated, and drivers grip a warm steering wheel. Crank the Bose audio system, set the dual-zone auto climate control, and open the panoramic sunroof to add enjoyment towards your destination.
Getting there will be easy with navigation and a heads-up display. While the infotainment system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a wireless charger, I still don’t love the system’s functionality. It’s beautifully styled with a thinline screen in the dash and console joywheel, but it seems one must go through way more menus than in other brands. I also do not understand why it always goes back to the lowest station in satellite mode either. As a rule, systems should stay where you left them. I don’t need a re-set.
Fortunately, safety is of no concern. Our CX-50 came with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning systems. Adaptive cruise and rear cross traffic alert with auto brake added additional layers of security. Should the worst happen, the vehicle protects with a full array of airbags. All of this should provide peace of mind and space to focus on the day ahead.
Passengers will be comfortable, but I’d prefer the left seat where drivers enjoy a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering a spirited 227 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. Unlike some others in this class that use buzzy continuously variable transmissions, Mazda tickles the all-wheel-drive system through a proper six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated 23/29-MPG city/highway – not bad given the peppy turbo.
Unlike Mazda’s mid-size CX-5, much of the CX-50 is based on the smaller Mazda3/CX-30 architecture. That stated, engineers made the most of the platform by giving it a wide stance, quick handling, tight suspension, and plenty of smooth power. The CX-50 trades the CX-5’s independent rear suspension for a torsion beam that can feel a little hollow over rough pavement, but nothing to spoil the drive.
I am definitely ready for Fall and getting out in the open country…as well as shopping downtown with coffee in-hand. The CX-50 is large enough for long drives and small enough to fit into tight parking garages. Going in either direction, all who travel within will feel absolutely spoiled. If you want one for yourself, expect to pay at least $27,550 or $43,970 as-tested. Competitors includes the Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Honda HR-V.
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