Car Review: The Mazda CX-50 is an SUV that’s fun to drive and more capable

Even though it is not a large automaker, Mazda has carved out a corner of the market for cars that are more fun to drive. Lately, Mazda as been moving upscale and doing more to stand out in a crowded market.

The new 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves to a more premium compact SUV with added capability. (WTOP / Mike Parris)

You can tell right away when you hop in the CX-50 Signature that it is a more luxurious ride. Handsome two-tone leather-trimmed heated and ventilated seats offer a good place to park yourself for a long trip. Those back seat riders also have heated seats by the windows and ample head and legroom.

You can also store a decent amount of cargo in this Mazda and drop the back seat down for longer items.

A large 10.25-inch color center display for radio and NAV functions provides sharp graphics. The CX-50 also comes with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay making for easy connectivity.

The Mazda CX-50 offers a driver-friendly personality with higher handling limits than other crossovers or small SUVs in its class. Some might find the ride a bit stiff with less body roll. It is never jarring and handles bumps nicely, even on not-so-nice roads. The turbo four-cylinder engine provides good punch, even with five people onboard. You can use regular fuel in the CX-50 or, if you want all the power, switch to premium fuel for a faster ride and use the full 256hp you paid for.

The CX-50 provides more ground clearance than the CX-5, so some light off-roading would not be problem. The CX-50 can even tow up to 3,500lbs.

The new Mazda CX-50 carries a new handsome look, but is more rugged than the Mazda CX-5 and other compact competitors. The nose seems more squared off and tough. It has an off-road style with flared fenders and more ground clearance. Choosing the CX-50 Premium Plus adds great looking 20-inch wheels, a roof spoiler and large rear dual exhaust pipes. Roof rails, LED lighting and sunroof also add to the more upscale look of this Mazda.

Cost: $41,550; as tested $43,170

MPG: 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway; I managed 23.6 mpg in 246 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: i-ACTIVSENSE; smart brake support; lane departure warning system; lane-keep assist; Mazda radar cruise control with stop & high beam control; driver attention alert; blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert; adaptive front lighting system; 360 degree view monitor; front & rear parking sensors

Options: $395 Zircon sand paint; $1,225 delivery, processing and handling fee

Things to know: The new Mazda CX-50 is a new premium compact SUV that’s fun to drive and more capable.


  • Turbo engine provides good power and can use regular grade fuel
  • Luxurious interior will have thinking this is a luxury SUV
  • Comfortable ride; handles well on back roads


  • Some might find the ride to sporty
  • Gas mileage suffers when you choose the optional engine
  • Base engine could feel underpowered when fully loaded

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