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2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 2

2023 Mazda CX-50 | Photo: M.Crépault
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Michel Crépault
Dimensions, versions and mission

Auto123 is putting the 2023 Mazda CX-50 to the long-term test. Today, part 2 of 6, as we take the measure of the SUV's dimensions and versions, and what its mission is in life.

See also: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 1: The start of something new

See also: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 3: Fuel economy versus power

See also: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 4: A driving experience with multiple personalities

See also: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 5: We venture into the interior

See also: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Long-Term Review, Part 6: All good things must come to an end

Last time, we saw where the new Mazda CX-50 fits into the family amidst all the double-digit CXs (from the CX-30 to the upcoming CX-90) and older single-digit CXs (CX-3 to CX-9).

Today, we hope to give you a better understanding of what a CX-50 looks like and what mission Mazda given it.

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2023 Mazda CX-50 - Profile
2023 Mazda CX-50 - Profile | Photo: M.Crépault

What is the size of the Mazda CX-50?
It can be described as compact SUV, although its length of 4,720 mm surpasses that of rivals like the Honda CR-V (4,694), Kia Sportage (4,660) and Toyota RAV4 (4,595). Its 2,815-mm wheelbase is also the most generous of the quartet, as is its 1,920 mm width. On the other hand, it's the least tall of the bunch, for at least two good reasons.

First of all, the designers wanted a slender vehicle, and so it has a long hood. A visual element that either pleases or annoys. “I shopped for the CX-50 but I thought the hood was too long,” this from a librarian who finally opted for a Santa Fe. For my part, I like Mazda's effort to slim down the silhouette of a vehicle that would otherwise have fallen into the generic crossover category.

Secondly, even though the CX-50 uses the platform of the 4th-generation Mazda3 and the CX-30 but is bigger than the CX-5, it’s shorter than the latter SUV. Why? To make life easier for CX-50 users when it comes to loading items on or off the roof rails. Which brings us to the mission of this Mazda.

2022 Mazda CX-5 and 2023 Mazda CX-50
2022 Mazda CX-5 and 2023 Mazda CX-50 | Photo: M.Crépault

What is the vocation of the Mazda CX-50?
To go out and play in nature! Mazda has been proclaiming it since it went on sale in Canada last May: the CX-50 is designed for outdoor enthusiasts, for those who love activities that require hiking boots, kayaks, a campfire, bicycles, lots of mosquito repellent, and all the kind of equipment that gets us close to a bucolic river in an enchanting setting.

Mind you, you can still get some fresh air in a small Mazda3. But the automaker has made it easier to do so in a CX-50. It's no coincidence the body is lined with armor-like trim.

Like the Trail and Woodland variants of the RAV4 or the Wilderness variants of the Subaru Forester and Outback? Yup. Exactly.

2023 Mazda CX-50 - Front
2023 Mazda CX-50 - Front | Photo: M.Crépault

What are the versions of the Mazda CX-50?
There are four. First, the GS-L, starting at $38,250. Its standard equipment includes, among other things, Mazda's first panoramic sunroof (gotta admire that Nature!), heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, 8-speaker audio system linked to a 10.25-inch colour screen, roof rails and a power and programmable tailgate.

The GT model ($43,200) substantially improves daily life in this vehicle. Besides ditching the 17-inch wheels in favor of 20-inchers, it incorporates treats like a 360-degree camera view of what's going on around the vehicle, Bose sound system with 4 extra speakers, heads-up display on the windshield, a host of driving aids and leather seats that add ventilation in the front and heating in the back. 

For $2,500 more, the $45,700 GT Turbo model essentially offers more muscle thanks to a turbocharged version of the engine, which we'll analyze in detail in the next chapter.

Finally, there's the very recent Meridian trim, priced at $48,200. If Mazda wants consumers to associate the CX-50 with outdoor activities, the Meridian symbolizes the apotheosis. It's so intent on trodding on Subaru's Wilderness turf that this new configuration of the 2023 CX-50 purposely gives itself a Davy Crockett look.

2023 Mazda CX-50 - Three-quarters rear
2023 Mazda CX-50 - Three-quarters rear | Photo: M.Crépault

Its distinctive look includes Falken off-road tires on black 18-inch wheels, distinctive headlights, decals and more armored rocker panels. 

An optional kit called Apex, which includes mudguards, is mostly concerned with turning the roof into a campsite. Indeed, the addition of crossbars to the standard side rails and a platform makes it possible to install a tent offered by Mazda in the CX-50's accessories catalog. That shelter is good for two or three people and fortunately equipped with a retractable ladder.

Think about it: car and sleep all in one! There's no stopping progress when it comes to communing with the great outdoors.

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Michel Crépault
Michel Crépault
Automotive expert
  • More than 45 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 12 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 190 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists