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2023 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, CUV, Mazda, SUV, Test Drives

2023 mazda cx-50

When a good vehicle has worked for an automotive manufacturer for many years, it’s no surprise that they introduce a very similar variation of the same vehicle bringing some additional capabilities to the table but retaining all the good things. Such has taken place for Mazda when it comes to their CX-5 compact crossover bringing us the all-new CX-50, a stylish take on the segment but with a bit more style and off-roading capabilities.

The new 2023 Mazda CX-50 embodies most of the principles of the CX-5 using the same drivetrains and retaining the sporty character that you expect out of the Mazda brand. The style of the new CX-50 is more mature in my view with a slightly rugged edge when you consider its defined plastic finders, slightly increased ride height, and 20-inch wheels on upper trim levels such as found on my top-trimmed CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus test vehicle. There’s even a Turbo Meridian trim with increased ground clearance, all-terrain 18-inch tires, exclusive hood graphics, and side rocker garnish to fit the mold of being the more off-roader of the many trim levels.

2023 mazda cx-50 side

The new style of the CX-50 builds upon the CX-5 but does it with more character that looks quite good with the adaptive front LED lighting and new quad-LED tail lamps. There are even larger dual exhaust outlets out back to accentuate the upper trim levels that have the robust turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder SKYACTIV engine.

2023 mazda cx-50

Performance and Driving Character

The new Mazda CX-50 is exclusively all-wheel-drive with a front-wheel-bias longitudinal engine setup for either of the two engine choices with the base trim level having a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Moving to the turbocharged engine, the recommended powertrain, several upper trim levels get a twin-scroll turbocharger setup in the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder good for 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque when you use recommended premium fuel. Otherwise, you get 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque using regular unleaded.

Power from the turbocharged engine comes on strong at the midrange but tends to feel as if it is giving out near the redline. The ample torque is where the engine shines and that narrow band of thrust may be deceptive at times if you wind out the engine at full throttle. The 6-speed automatic transmission does all it can to keep the engine in the relatively narrow sweet spot and quickly finds the proper gear needed.

2023 mazda cx-50 20-inch wheel

Acceleration comes on strong and the 0-60 mph time at 7 seconds is decent enough. Driving the CX-50 is quite unique in its tight handling and heavy electric steering rack. At times the steering almost feels too heavy for this class of vehicle but adds to the sporty theme that Mazda is known for.

Ride quality is a bit on the stiff side but not overly jarring. The tighter suspension helps in the CX-50’s sporty attitude and stability where it remains mostly compliant over road bumps and imperfections, in addition to limiting body roll going into sharp turns and curves. Still, you’ll want to test drive the CX-50 first as it could be a bit rough for some but enjoyable to lighthearted enthusiasts as it is an SUV that communicates the feel of the road more than others.

Towing capacity increases with the turbocharged engine to 3,500 pounds, up from the 2,000 pound limit for the base engine trims.

Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption doesn’t vary much, and you’ll expect to get the EPA estimated numbers in the real world of 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Some of the CX-50’s competition is much better in this area but isn’t nearly as quick as the CX-50 with the turbocharged engine.

2023 mazda cx-50 dashboard

Interior and Tech

Inside you’ll find a cabin with a premium theme much as you expect in modern Mazda vehicles. There’s a neat play on the accented stitching that has an interesting cross-stitch pattern with many soft-touch areas above the belt line. There seems to be a bit more hard plastic in the lower areas than in some other Mazda vehicles.

2023 mazda cx-50 front seats

The latest infotainment system, identical to what’s found in other top-trim Mazda vehicles, is somewhat of a mixed bag. The screen, a hard-to-reach 10.3-inch *touchscreen, is minimalistic in its menu sets but has a frustrating learning curve where it lacks a cohesive method of controlling it. *The screen is only a touchscreen if the vehicle is stopped and you’re using the wireless (or USB-connected) Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Otherwise, you’re left to using the central controller and fixed set of buttons located behind the gear shifter, which again, takes a while to get used to. I find that the screen being a long reach and locking you out of touchscreen functions if you’re not using smartphone integration when the vehicle isn’t in motion is the wrong approach and still doesn’t help to prevent distraction from the road. Hopefully, Mazda will listen and change things up a bit as have others in this department.

2023 mazda cx-50 back seats

There are plenty of USB connections and wireless smartphone charging only on the top-level CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus trim.

The seating areas up front offers heated and ventilated leather seating surfaces that are mostly comfy and it’s relatively easy to find the optimal driving position through ample power adjustments. The rear has heated outboard seats and a good amount of space where you can fit 6-feet individuals.

The cargo area is somewhat short on space from what you may otherwise expect in the larger-looking proportions of the CX-50 over the CX-5. You still have just over 31 cubic feet with the rear 60/40-split seatbacks up in place and just over 56 cubic feet with them folded.

Safety

A full array of active safety features are included across the board for all trim levels, including radar cruise control with stop and go, blind-spot monitors with rear-cross traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and driver attention alert. The only added features in my top-level CX-50 Turbo Premium Place are front/rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, rear smart brake support, traffic jam assist, and blind spot assist.

2023 mazda cx-50 360 camera

2023 mazda cx-50 cargo

Price

The Mazda CX-50, just like the CX-5, offers a respectable value proposition starting at a price of $27,550. Though, things get a bit high when you opt for the top trim with my test vehicle hitting $43,170 as its final pricing that includes a $1,225 delivery, processing, and handling fee. Still, in the world of crossovers, the CX-50 remains quite competitive with an edge in its sporty character, powerful turbocharged engine, and premium exterior and interior themes.

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