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2023 Mazda CX-50 First Look: New Compact SUV Sets Its Sights on Subaru

The CX-50 marries Mazda's luxury ethos with off-road-themed styling

  • A more rugged Mazda for outdoor enthusiasts
  • Go-anywhere, do-anything intent (within reason)
  • Fresh looks, same old engines
  • Kicks off the first CX-50 generation for 2023

What is the CX-50?

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a new compact SUV intent on showcasing a more rugged side of this premium-adjacent automaker. Like the CX-30 — which effectively replaced the still-kicking but single-trim-only CX-3 — we expect the CX-50 to enjoy a similar relationship with the CX-5 compact crossover. Our first look at this new SUV reveals that Mazda isn't content with simply creating a new CX-5 and loading it with the brand's newest design language.

Mazda is doing that, of course, but it's also seemingly taking aim at another automaker with solid sales and a hardcore fanbase. Like Subaru and its popular models like the Forester and Outback, the CX-50 comes standard with all-wheel drive, stubby overhangs and the black plastic cladding that has become synonymous with (perceived) durability.

What's under the CX-50's hood?

The CX-50 will offer two powertrains underhood. The first is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and the other is a turbocharged version of the same unit. Mazda isn't releasing power figures just yet, but engines with these displacements already power the CX-5, and we don't expect output to be any different. For reference, the CX-5's standard engine produces 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the turbo-four makes at least 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Either engine directs power to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. New for the CX-50 is a drive mode selector that lets you choose among multiple traction modes.

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2023 Mazda CX-50

2023 Mazda CX-50

Mazda also said that the CX-50 will eventually be offered with an electrified powertrain, but details are still murky on that front. Given that the CX-50 will be built at the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama, we wouldn't be surprised to see Toyota tech migrate to the upcoming CX-50 hybrid.

How's the CX-50's interior?

The CX-50's interior design is typical Mazda. Many primary controls, from the steering wheel to center console buttons, look like they were lifted straight out of the CX-30. That's no bad thing since we think the CX-30's cabin is an excellent place to log miles. The dash design is one clean, flat plane all the way across the width of the car's interior. Hopefully, the CX-50 is a bit bigger than its predecessor. The CX-5's back seat and cargo are among the smallest in the class.

How's the CX-50's tech?

The gauge cluster consists of a central digital screen nestled between a set of analog gauges. As with the CX-30, the CX-50's infotainment screen sits perched atop the dash, located far away from the driver. Mazda is sticking with its assertion that touching a screen while driving isn't the safest way to operate the infotainment system and has yet again gone in for a remote wheel controller setup.

How economical is the CX-50?

Mazda hasn't released EPA ratings for the CX-50 yet. However, the CX-5 (with which it shares its engines) is available with AWD and uses the same transmission, so we can make an educated guess as to what the CX-50's eventual EPA ratings might look like.

The CX-5 with AWD and the base non-turbo 2.5-liter engine gets 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway). If you opt for the turbo and AWD, that number falls slightly to 24 mpg combined (22 city/27 highway). We expect the CX-50 to closely match these figures once it gets tested by the EPA.

Edmunds says

Mazda takes aim at Subaru with the ruggedly styled 2023 Mazda CX-50. The CX-50 serves not only as a replacement for the CX-5 but also a luxury-tinged competitor to the Subaru Forester.