Auto123 goes to the Queen City to say hello to the brand-new, adventure-minded 2023 Mazda CX-50.
Toronto, ON - To attract consumers to its showrooms, an automaker must have a wide range of utility-oriented vehicles. At Mazda, the North American lineup already includes five vehicles with the recent addition of the all-electric MX-30. But with the evolving needs of young families on the continent, Mazda felt there was still room for a slightly larger utility model than its popular CX-5.
With a more urban role in mind, that CX-5 is still part of the brand's plans. In fact, given the 5’s popularity here – it is the brand’s top seller here - Mazda has no interest in abandoning it. In fact, there's even something new for it in 2022.
The new 2023 CX-50 is really a companion to the CX-5, much like the smaller CX-30 when it arrived on our market in 2019. But the new SUV follows a more "rugged" approach. Mazda is using a formula used liberally across the industry in recent years, by which models are spruced to be more evocative of the outdoors via items like a more aggressive black plastic fender and rocker panel surrounds. It's possible to draw a parallel with the Subaru Outback in this case.
We recognize some common traits with the recent CX-30, in fact both the 30 and the 50 are based on the same architecture. However, several elements work to give the CX-50 a more rugged design on the outside, especially with the square fenders and those wheels wrapped in off-road tires.
Up front, we find the same clean look with a grille supported at its base by a central band that extends into the headlights, while the brand's crest occupies a prominent place in the centre of the grille. The headlight signature is new, which should help distinguish the CX-50 from the CX-5. In fact, the CX-50 looks wider and longer than its CX-5 cousin. At the rear, we recognize the features of the popular CX-30 with this forward sloping tailgate, but with more imposing position lights.
The interior also respects the philosophy of recent models with a streamlined dashboard that includes a driver-centered cockpit. The linearity of the dashboard contrasts with the curves of the CX-30, however.
Like the CX-5, the CX-50 is a five-seat model.
Under the hood, the CX-50 relies on the same powertrains as the CX-5. The naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-cylinder is the base engine and delivers 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the turbocharged option, also with a 2.5L displacement, makes 250 hp (227 hp with regular-octane gas) and 320 lb-ft of torque (310 lb-ft with regular), at least in theory, since Mazda didn't divulge any figures to us on this day.
Finally, the excellent 6-speed automatic transmission is back in action; it’s a unit that has proven time and time again that you don't need a lot of gears to get good fuel economy. Another interesting point... for an adventure vehicle at least: the brand's all-wheel drive will be standard on all trims.
Mazda also told us that an electrified powertrain will be offered later in the model's cycle. We can assume that will be a hybrid or even a plug-in hybrid, but at the time of writing, we don't know more.
We’re also guessing Mazda will offer a wide range of customization accessories, because to do otherwise with adventure-minded models like this just wouldn’t do these days.
During the presentation, Mazda USA chief engineer Dave Coleman also talked about the different drive modes. Notably, the 2023 CX-50 will come with both an Off-Road and a Towing mode.
Mazda's sixth SUV is expected to go into production at the Huntsville, Alabama plant early in 2022 for an expected release next spring as a 2023 model. Pricing for the various versions will be revealed later next year as well.