2023 Mazda CX-50 Review: Quick Take

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick
2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take


Engine: 2.5L I4 Turbo
Output: 256 hp, 320 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, 4WD
US fuel economy (MPG): 23/29/25
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 10.4/8.1/9.4
As-Tested Price (USD): $43,970 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $48,145 (inc. dest.)

Recently, we held a massive 2022 AutoGuide Compact SUV Comparison test presented by NRS Brakes. We’re now going to take a closer look at one of the more specialized entries in that massive match-up, with our 2023 Mazda CX-50 review.

The compact SUV segment has become so big that now brands are starting to offer numerous options to capitalize on demand. Take the Mazda CX-50 here, another compact SUV with a slightly different angle than its existing best-seller, the CX-5.

Get a Quote on a New Mazda CX-50

2023 Mazda CX-50: What’s new?

CX-50, you say? Yes, Mazda’s growing SUV lineup includes single and double-digit offerings. Like the CX-30 that came before it, the CX-50 slots slightly above its one-number sibling. As Mazda continues its march upmarket, the CX-50 will lead the charge.

The CX-50 is ostensibly Mazda’s Outback: longer, lower, and wider than the upright CX-5, with a stronger focus on off-road ruggedness. It’s a pretty thing, which we haven’t been able to say about the Outback. In that afore-mentioned massive comparison, the CX-50 was our favorite design of the bunch—so really the top in the segment.

Premium interior

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

Move inside and it’s another hit from Mazda, straddling the line between mainstream and premium. Mazda has cut down on clutter, keeping the squared-off dashboard design as the focal point. This keeps all the controls nice and centralized, so it’s easy to feel comfortable quickly in the CX-50. Material quality has taken a slight dip versus the high points of the CX-5 and CX-30 though. It’s a small matter, and this is still on a whole other level compared to its primary competitor.

In the mega comparo, the Mazda was far and away our fave from a design perspective, scoring top marks in exterior styling, and staying near the front for interior, too. We don’t love the CX-50’s blockier dashboard quite as much as the stylish CX-5’s, but it’s still a classy joint to spend time in.

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

Interior space is merely okay. The low roofline eats into headroom, as does Mazda’s first application of a panoramic moonroof. Those seats sure are comfy though, and the optional terracotta leather, which isn’t present on our tester, is a great look. Mazda used much of the CX-50’s additional length to extend its trunk space, making for a long loading bay. It’s not the most capacious hatch, but coolers will fit in length-wise.

SEE ALSO: Mazda CX-50 Meridian vs Subaru Forester Wilderness: Moderate Muddin’

Muscular engine

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

Another CX-50 strength is the turbocharged powertrain. With a whopping 320 lb-ft when drinking the premium stuff, the CX-50 is effortlessly quick. It needs the power too, since it runs a six-speed automatic, with wider gear spacing than most other entries in the segment. On the plus side, the 2.5-liter is fairly subdued when not being pushed, adding to the CX-50’s high feeling of refinement. Stomp the throttle and you’ll get a pleasant growl. This engine might be starting to age, but it’s an effective piece of equipment.

This is also a thirsty beast. The turbo engine can drink from the regular hose, but then it misses out on the extra power, not to mention dulled throttle response. Mazda has said a hybrid is coming, and that might be the one to get, mixing fuel sipping with an appetite for adventure.

Stiff ride

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

That’s where the CX-50 starts to lose points, however. While it’s the most fun to drive, the stiff suspension and low-profile tires make the ride busy around town. In fact, the CX-50 had the worst ride comfort score from our judges. For family-oriented vehicles, that’s kind of a big deal.

If you’re regularly driving solo, the buzzy secondary ride might not be a problem for you. It’s a reminder of an actual connection between the steering wheel and the front tires. But it’s also a strange contrast from the apparent goal of the CX-50. Forget the Outback comparisons: the CX-50 might look ready for the trail, but it’s happiest on a good bit of road.

Infotainment still has quirks

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

Mazda’s infotainment system continues to frustrate. For the CX-50, the Japanese brand has made a few improvements, including wireless access to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. And as a concession to how owners actually use those features, they work as touchscreens now! Except you have to dig through the menus to turn that on. Oh, and it only works when the car’s stationary. How do you say “two steps forward, three steps back” in Japanese?

Gets pricey quick

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

The new Mazda’s other weak point is its price. What starts at $28,825 (including destination) quickly rises to $43,970 as-tested ($48,145 CAD). In the comparison, it was the second-priciest model on test. This top-trim model does include niceties like ventilated front seats, a 360-degree camera, and head-up display. You still won’t find features like the Nissan Rogue’s triple-zone climate control on the spec sheet though, nor a fully digital instrument panel.

Verdict: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Review

2023 mazda cx 50 review quick take

The CX-50 is a desirable, fun-to-drive SUV. It’s pricier and more compromised than its CX-5 sibling, but it’s also prettier, and offers several exclusive features. Perhaps most important of all, it has that active lifestyle vibe that’s so hot right now.


How much does the 2023 Mazda CX-50 cost?

The entry point for the CX-50 is $28,825 including destination, though the turbo starts from $38,425. Canadian trims are better equipped, which raises the starting price to $40,245 CAD, or $47,695 CAD for the turbo engine.

What is the Meridian package on the CX-50?

The Meridian model shrinks the wheels to 18-inch items, wraps them in all-terrain tires, and adds unique graphics and trim to the exterior.

Does the 2023 Mazda CX-50 have a hybrid option?

Not yet; Mazda has confirmed one is coming soon, however.

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  • Looks great outside
  • Looks great inside
  • Turbo power, poised handling


  • Tight headroom
  • Rough ride
  • Pricey
Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • James James on Dec 17, 2022

    Rough, cheap, noisy, brittle, hollow cost cutting downgrade compared to Japanese built cx5, and even the cx9. Exactly what family wants to purchase a crossover that had the roughest, noisest ride. It also isn't the fastest with the turbo and has horrible mpgs. The outback wilderness is laughing at this one. Lol

  • Holger R Kuehn Holger R Kuehn on Jun 18, 2023

    If you can live with the non turbo and 17 inch wheels it is certainly not a rough ride.I just traded in my CX 30 with 18 inch wheels for the CX 50 select S and it actually feels a little smother than the CX 30.