So, once upon a time, there was a Mazda CX-3 and a Mazda CX-5. For a while the CX-3 co-existed with the CX-30, but 2021 was the last year for that. The CX-3 is no more. And with the 2023 arrival of the CX-50, one has to suspect time is running out for the CX-5 as well.
The CX-50 is, as our headline suggests, longer, lower and wider than the CX-5---but it offers more ground clearance, making it somewhat more useful in light off-roading and a bit deeper snow. The CX-50 also has a more chiseled appearance, making it look a bit more rugged than the rounded CX-5.
Under the hood, it's the same 2.5-liter turbo four that's in the CX-5---by no means a bad thing. 225 horsepower and, according to Mazda, 250 on premium fuel, with some significant torque (310 lb-ft on 87 octane regular, 320 on 93 octane premium). Zero to 60 runs take 6.6 seconds.
More than that, though---the steering is just top-notch. No one expects stellar handling or steering feel from a crossover SUV. But Mazda seems to want to remind us that they're the company that makes the Miata. Duly noted.
The added length is all in the wheelbase, which translates to improved backseat legroom.
CX-50s start at $27,550. That's the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and dealers can discount that, honor it or add to it. And in the current supply-constrained environment, it's hard to find dealers that aren't adding. That's also for the base CX-50. Our tester was the top-of-the-line CX-30 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD. The MSRP for this trim level is $41,550. As usual with Mazda, you get a lot standard at that price---20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors with memory, leather-trimmed seats (heated and ventilated in the front row, heated in the rear), dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a full active safety suite, wireless phone charging and a power moonroof, just to name the highlights.
And, as usual with Mazda---that's it. Trim levels are specific in terms of available options and pricing. Apart from $395 for Polymetal Gray Metallic paint, there are zero extra-cost options. So with $1,225 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD is $43,170.
As with all cars, the sticker manages to shock. $40,000 is a psychological line in the sand for a lot of people---it's also less than the current average price of a new car. Which makes the CX-50 a really solid deal for an infinitely better-than-average crossover SUV.