Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



The all-new compact crossover SUV is the perfect for outdoor Pacific Northwest adventures.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The all-new CX-50 is the first Mazda being aggressively marketed for its off-road capabilities.The all-new 2023 Mazda CX-50 is not just a slightly larger version of the company's popular CX-5 crossover. Although still a compact SUV, it is a more off-road capable vehicle, while still upholding the company's fun to drive ethos.

But be advised. I enjoyed the CX-50 a lot during a week of daily driving. I'd buy one instead of the CX-5. But I probably drive more aggressively and hit moderate trails more often than typical CX-5 buyers. That's where the firmer suspension excels. But in daily driving on the poorly maintained roads in my neighborhood, the CX-50 felt harsher over potholes and other rough road conditions.

COURTRSY PHOTO: MAZDA - All versions of the stylish 2023 Mazda CX-50 comes with all-whee—drive and available turbo power.

The trade off — and it's a reasonable one — is the increased stability on smooth streets and freeways. My top-of-the-tester Turbo Premium Plus with standard all-wheel-drive felt well planted at all times, especially as the speed increased. Mazda has long been known for the sportiest driving cars and crossover SUVs of all affordable manufacturers, and the 2023 CX-50 ups the ante ever further.

Producing the CX-50 as an all-new vehicle gave Mazda engineers the opportunity to upgrade their technologies and they took full advantage of it. While every Mazda except the Miata MX-5 sports car comes is available with AWD as an option, every includes the i-Activ AWD system as standard equipment. They all also include Mazda Intelligent Drive Select, called Mi-Drive for short, which are selectable driving modes to help deliver the best possible performance in a wide variety of conditions, such as light off-road driving, normal highway driving, in snow and winter weather, and when towing.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The interior of the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is clean and comfortable, with high quality materials and loads of tech.

CX-50 buyers will be able to choose between two engine packages. The basic CX-50 comes with Mazda's long-proven 2.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv engine, rated at 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Upper trim levels are available with a turbocharged version of the same engine that produces a more satisfying 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Both engine are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with full-time AWD. Sensors also engage the rear wheels for additional traction before the driver even feels them slipping.

Mazda also includes G-Vectoring Control, which senses when the driver turns the wheel for a corner, and cuts engine torque just enough to shift weight onto the front wheels. This gives the CX-50 sharper steering response than most crossovers in its class.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - There is enough room for three adults in the rear seats of the 2023 Mazda CX-50.

Naturally aspirated base models can still tow up to 2,000 pounds, while properly equipped turbo models can pull up to 3,500 pounds.

The interior of the CX-50 is similar to the CX-5, which means it is very cleanly styled and features high quality materials. The base trim will receive a large 8.8-inch full color center display, while all upgrades get an even larger 10.25-inch screen that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The native Mazda Connect infotainment system and voice control. A 12-speaker Bose audio system and onboard GPS navigation are optional on higher trim levels.

Mazda is also focused on safety and has equipped all trim levels of the CX-50 with a full suite of standard advanced driver assistance safety features on all trim levels, including blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, and a rear view camera system. A few additional features are included on the top 2.5T Premium Plus trim, such as traffic jam assistance, front and rear parking assist, reverse automatic braking, and active blind spot prevention.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - There is ample storage space under the rear hatch of the 2023 Mazda CX-50.

On the outside, the CX-50 looks both huskier and sportier that the CX-5. The fenders bulge more, giving a more aggressive look, amplified by larger cladding around the wheel wells and the lower bodies panels. Getting in and out is a little easier because the CX-50 is slightly larger.

In a week of daily driving, the CX-50 was always comfortable and entertaining when pushed even just a little. The firmer suspension added to the stability on smooth surfaces, even though it made the driver and passengers aware of imperfections on rougher ones. I quickly got used to it, but potential buyers should do a lengthy test drive to see how they like it. The existing CX-5 will continue to be sold for at least a while, and it is also available with the turbocharged engine and AWD.

COURTESY PHOTO: MAZDA - The large dial behind the shift lever in the 2023 Mazda CX-50 controls the infortainment system, and the small knob is an increasing rare steroe volume control.

2023 Mazda CX-50

Base price: $28,825 (base)

Price as tested: $44,170

Type: Compact crossover SUV

Engines: 2.5-liter four-cylinder (187 hp, 186 lbs-ft); 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (256 hp, 320 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 23/29

Overall length: 185.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,907 pounds

Final assembly: Huntsville, Alabama

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