CX-50 Continues Tradition of Simple Excellence

CHATHAM, Mass.—There is something simple — elegant in its simplicity — about the 2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo w/Premium Plus package.

Added to the Mazda family for 2022, the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV) offers a comprehensive complement of technology, features and amenities in a clean, understated way – basically, the Mazda CX-50 goes about its business without drama; easy for the driver to learn, understand and master.

In an era where many vehicles are over-engineered, hiding features many layers deep within a touchscreen maze, this SUV delivers everything today’s driver needs and wants in a straightforward manner.

A zoom, zoom powertrain and platform

Lack of drama does not mean boring. Mazda’s historic marketing tag line – zoom, zoom – still fits its vehicles today, including the CX-50 2.5 Turbo. From its earliest rotary-engined sedans to the iconic RX-7 sports car, Mazda cars and SUVs have NEVER been boring.

As the name indicates, the heart of this CX-50 is what Mazda calls a Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter, four-cylinder twin-scroll turbocharged engine which pumps out a maximum of 256 horsepower and 320 pounds feet of torque (when using 93-octane premium gasoline; fill the tank with 87-octane regular lowers the output to a still robust 227 hp and 310 lbs.-ft.)

Car and Driver called the turbo powerplant zesty, documenting a 0-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds. Zesty is an apt description, one which I would broaden with terms like strong, powerful and responsive.

Bringing this power to the pavement is a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual operation and a fulltime i-Activ all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. The driver can tailor this system to driving conditions and environment through the Mi-Drive system with Sport and Off-road modes. Towing mode will allow for trailers up to 3,500 pounds (2,000 pounds in non-turbo versions of the CX-50).

The CX-50’s oomph is always there, ready to merge the SUV onto the highway or zip around plodding traffic. Playing a role in this activity is the well-engineered suspension system consisting of MacPherson-type struts up front and a torsion beam/trailing arm setup in the rear.

The power-assisted anti-lock (ABS) braking system with electronic-brake distribution (EBD) has 12.8-inch ventilated rotors in the front and 12.8 solid ones in the back. An electronic parking brake completes the package.

The Turbo version includes 20×8-inch black alloy wheels shod with 245/40R20 all-season tires.

ADAS across the CX-50 range

The 10-model CX-50 range features a substantial list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) as standard. This group includes lane-departure warning; lane-keep assist; blind-spot monitoring; rear cross-traffic alert; radar cruise control; traffic-jam assist; front and rear parking sensors; blind-spot prevention; traffic-sign recognition surround-view camera; front and rear brake support with pedestrian detection (AEB), and driver-attention alert.

One of the features which sets Mazda vehicles apart from others is the inclusion of ADAS warnings in the content of the Mazda Active Driving Display, the Japanese company’s heads-up display (HUD), which is part of the Premium Plus package.

Let the SUV wander over a lane marker or if another vehicle invades its blind spot, the driver can see an alert along with other information at eye level thanks to the HUD. Very helpful!

Amenities, technology in a truly premium cabin

As hinted at earlier, the Mazda CX-50 is a straightforward design when it comes to features, controls and layout. Buttons and switches – which are used to control the SUV’s major systems rather than multi-layered touchscreen menus – are laid out logically in several dashboard spots which are easy to locate and operate.

At the top of the dashboard, in a recessed well sits the 10.25-inch color LCD screen which is the heart of the Mazda Connect™ infotainment and navigation systems.

A multi-function, multi-direction rotary control supplemented by specific buttons for the home, audio, navigation and favorites screens, and another for audio volume, allows easy operation of the infotainment system after a bit of practice and reading of the owner’s manual. In addition, the system can be operated with either steering-wheel controls or voice activation.

Speaking of the audio system, the sound is produced through a 12-speaker Bose® system.

Mazda Connect brings WiFi; remote services (remote start/remote lock/remote hazard light); vehicle status; navigation services (vehicle finder, send-to-car, map online update); vehicle-connect services (vehicle-health report, online update, push notifications, malfunction notifications and recall notifications); automatic 911 dialing; Mazda Roadside Assistance; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; SiriusXM satellite radio; Pandora, and more.

The seats are leather covered, heated front and (outboard rear), power adjustable for the front occupants (who also get ventilation along with the heat) and memory-equipped for the driver. The steering wheel is also leather covered and heated, a feature much appreciated during the cold New England winter months. Automatic dual-zone climate control further keeps all occupants comfortable.

Topping off the interior amenities is a powered panoramic moonroof.

Simply a full-featured, terrific compact SUV

The Mazda CX-50 line ranges from $28,550 for the 2.5 S Select through the fully equipped 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus package we reviewed at $42,300. The as-tested price was $44,170 reflecting the addition of one option – Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint at $595 – and a delivery, processing and handling fee of $1,275.

This is a very competitive price within the premium compact SUV market. Factor in the 27.1 miles per gallon I achieved during my week (the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 25 mpg overall, 23 urban and 29 highway) and the overall excellence of the design, engineering, driving fun and features, and the 2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo w/Premium Plus package is a wonderful choice.

Next week TBR Drives the 2023 Ford Lightning EV pickup truck

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.