Table of Contents
2023 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus AWD
Class: Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 617
Fuel used: 25.2 gallons
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||B+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||227-horsepower 2.5L|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cylinder|
Real-world fuel economy: 23.4 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/29/25 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $38,700 (not including $1125 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($395)
Price as tested: $43,170
The great: Classy cabin, plenty of power
The good: Fun to drive character, decent fuel economy, option to operate on regular-grade fuel
The not so good:Knob-centric infotainment system trails competition in ease of operation, Premium Plus trim level pricey for a mainstream-brand small crossover
Mazda’s new-for-2023 CX-50 represents a noteworthy expansion in focus for the brand. Traditionally, Mazda vehicles have been primarily tuned for on-road driving dynamics, but the CX-50 is more overtly aimed at off-road driving and active-lifestyle adventures than any Mazda in recent memory. Mazda says it’s “purpose-built for outdoor enthusiasts.” Significantly, the CX-50 aims to deliver enhanced all-terrain capabilities without compromising the engaging on-road driving character that is Mazda’s stock-in-trade. Considering that even the most active outdoor adventurers will spend the majority of their seat time on paved roads, this is a logical path for the CX-50 to follow.
There’s nothing especially new under the CX-50’s hood… at least not yet. It debuts with Mazda’s familiar 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged form. The only transmission choice is a 6-speed automatic, and it pairs with standard “i-ACTIV” all-wheel drive. The naturally aspirated engine is rated at 187 horsepower, while the turbo receives a 227-hp rating (which increases to 256 hp on 93-octane premium-grade gasoline). Mazda says electrified versions of the CX-50, including a traditional hybrid model, will be added in the future.
The CX-50 is available in an amazing nine trim levels, the top three of which come with the more-potent turbocharged engine. We spent time with the top-trim 2.5 S Premium Plus, with comes fully loaded, leaving shoppers to decided only on color and dealer-installed accessories.
On the road our only disappointment comes in the form of some throb from the engine and an obtuse infotainment interface that literally angers members of our staff. Truth be told, the CX-50 control systems is easy enough to acclimate to, but requires far too many steps—and pressing down and knob turning—to perform what should be simple tasks.
The CX-50 cabin, especially in higher trim levels, is a classy affair, and aligns nicely with Mazda’s stated plan to take the brand upscale. Though no sports car, the ’50 handles well, and the turbocharged engine provides plenty of power, though sounds a little coarse doing so. You can read our original review of the CX-50 here.
We don’t think the picture of the CX-50 as an active-lifestyle accessory extension of the Mazda brand has developed fully yet, but our test vehicle proved capable of handling moderate off-road challenges on its all-season tires. Pricing at the top end clearly falls in line with Mazda’s aforementioned aspirations as a premium brand, but overall the CX-50 is a very desirable addition to the compact SUV class—whether you’re driving on-road or off-road.
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2023 Mazda CX-50 Premium Plus Gallery
Click below for enlarged images.
2023 Mazda CX-50 Premium Plus
First Spin: 2023 Mazda CX-50
2023 Mazda CX-50 Premium Plus