– The first new model in Mazda’s upcoming SUV product offensive broke cover this week when the company took the wraps off the all-new 2023 CX-50, a compact crossover built for on and off-road driving.
To be built at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, a 50/50 joint venture plant in Huntsville, Alabama beginning in early 2022, the CX-50 shares a basic architecture with the CX-30 crossover and Mazda3 sedan and hatch, but with a unique suspension set-up designed for off-roading.
Given its shared platform, the CX-50 will come to market with two 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engines, one naturally aspirated and one turbocharged, each paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
The latter is Mazda’s latest version of its i-Activ All-Wheel Drive with Mazda Intelligent Drive Select with three modes: normal, sport and off-road. Mazda chose to simplify its off-road settings due to confusion multiple off-road modes can create, the reality road surfaces change frequently and changing modes can lead to driver distraction.
In terms of power output, Mazda Canada has indicated both engines will produce the same horsepower and torque in the CX-50 as they do in the CX-30 and Mazda3. Those figures are 186 hp and 186 lb-ft. for the naturally aspirated 2.5 and 250 hp / 320 lb-ft. for the 2.5 turbo with 93 octane fuel.
Electrification is in the CX-50’s future, but Mazda isn’t ready to talk too much about it just yet, apart from confirming a gas hybrid is on the way. More details will be revealed in the coming months, the company says.
Dimensionally, the CX-50 is classified as a compact SUV, but Mazda hasn’t released any specs so direct comparisons are difficult. Mazda has indicated the CX-50 has a wider track than the CX-5, with higher ground clearance and a lower roofline.
As for styling, the CX-50 sports a more rugged off-road aesthetic, with a wide stance, flared bodywork and loads of blacked out trim, including wheel arches, grille and headlight surrounds, door trims, and mirrors. The squared-off headlight and taillight elements are unique to the CX-50 and represent an expansion of Mazda’s exterior design language.
The all-terrain tires, roof rack and hood graphic on the pre-production model shown here are optional. Of note, its exterior colour, Zircon Sand, will be unique to CX-50 at launch, but Mazda has said it may be offered on other models in the future.
On the inside, the CX-50’s cabin will look familiar to anyone who owns or has driven the current gen Mazda3, but certain details such as its stitching details are inspired by outdoor gear. Elsewhere, the round, white-faced, analogue / digital instrument cluster carries forward, as does the 10.25-inch infotainment display.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard on all grades, with Mazda Connected Services – which works in conjunction with the MyMazda smartphone app and offers remote engine start/stop, door locking/unlocking and vehicle health status report – available as an option.
Leather seating will be standard on the top grade, like the pre-production unit which Mazda says is GT-equivalent, with cloth available on lower trims. The reveal unit also has a power-operated liftgate, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels and a full panoramic glass roof, but specific grade-packaging details have not been revealed.
About all that can be said for certain right now is that some of this equipment will be standard and some will be optional depending on trim, but a detailed breakdown won’t be released until closer to launch.
Same is true for pricing, but Mazda has indicated the CX-50 will be slotted above the CX-5 with a similar price separation that currently exists between the CX-3 and CX-30.
The 2023 Mazda CX-50 will go on sale across Canada in the second quarter of 2022.