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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

Mazda CX-50 is an alternative to the Germans

The Mazda CX-5 has been the top-selling car for the Japanese automaker during the 2010s, mainly due to its attractive design and impressive driving performance. As the previous model sold 3.5 million units worldwide, its successor has big shoes to fill. Let's find out how the CX-50 fares; our test model had an MSRP of $48,145 and was built at a new Mazda plant in Huntsville, AL.

Mazda CX-50
Photo by Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

Mazda has positioned itself as an alternative in the luxury segment in the last few years, delivering an elegant exterior and well-equipped inside. This shift started with the CX-30, followed by the Mazda3, and they added this model in North America as a more upscale version of the CX-5. Design-wise, the CX-50 is bulkier and more rugged; it's a significant departure from the rest of the lineup. The front grille is prominent, and the headlights are stretched out farther on the sides, thus resulting in a meaner look. The two large air intakes on the lower part of the front bumper also accentuate this impression; overall, it's a great design. On the sides, the rugged character carries over with the larger black cladding going to the back. Speaking of the back, you will find air intakes as in the front, but the appearance is generally toned down, and this vehicle is no exception.

Mazda interiors have greatly improved, and the CX-50 is no different. Everywhere you see and touch, the materials look premium, and the Terracotta leather brings out an atmosphere of peacefulness and calm inside the cabin that you wouldn't find in an all-black interior. When driving the car, you will notice that the seat is higher than in the CX-5, providing a better view. Furthermore, the controls have been spaced out to create a sense of spaciousness within the car. The steering wheel is soft to the touch, and the gauge cluster is fine by modern standards, but the lack of information on the screen part is starting to date the car a bit. For example, information about the changing of songs does not appear, which is a shame since more automakers are adding this to their top-of-the-line models.

The center console of the Mazda CX-50 is about what you would expect in a modern Mazda, a logical and practical layout with a screen that you can only control with a knob under the gear shifter. The Japanese automaker has continued in this avenue, so this may be a turn-off for specific buyers, we were fine, but the screen is placed so far from the driver to keep the eyes on the road as much as possible. That said, the infotainment system now features wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which is excellent, and the optional Bose sound system was surprisingly good. The climate controls underneath the screen are within reach of both front occupants and are easy to use. As for the interior room, as mentioned earlier, the space for the front occupants is quite ample; the same can be said about the second row, which has quite a good legroom and headroom, and the trunk is quite large, it's only 20% smaller than the larger CX-9. Car seat installation has been made easier with the ISOFIX ports visible, and the rear anchors are within reach of the parent fixing the seat. Once again, Mazda proved to be an excellent family hauler looking for some time off the pavement.

Under the hood, you can get the Mazda CX-50 in two configurations. The base engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder SkyActiv engine that delivers 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. You can step up to the same engine tuned differently, adding a turbocharger, thus bringing the total output to 256 hp and 320 lb-ft using premium 93 fuel. That said, you can only drive this vehicle with a six-speed automatic transmission, showing signs of age since so many competitors now have seven or eight-speed for improved comfort. All trims come equipped standard with AWD; no need to worry about that aspect. That said, on the road, the CX-50 has a dynamic feeling up to 110 kph, then the acceleration tends to fade a bit because of the lack of additional gears. The vehicle's performance is consistent and easy to anticipate, including its handling and steering, which are suitable for off-road use. On the highway, the car is stable and quiet; there is nothing flashy about the driving dynamics. The suspensions are balanced, offering many sensations of driving on bumpy roads without being unpleasant or dreadful. Fuel consumption is about what you expect from a vehicle this size; we averaged about 10.2L/100km during our combined city and highway driving.

The Mazda CX-5 is on its way out, and the Hiroshima-based automaker created a new vehicle based on the new generation that the company started a few years ago. The Mazda CX-50 improves on two aspects, especially in the interior room and the material's quality inside the cabin but lacks a certain flair driving-wise. The driving experience was a strong seller on the previous model, but not so much anymore, so a decision was made here, and clearly, practicality was a bigger priority, understandably. In a sentence, it's a good vehicle close to being great with minor adjustments.

Mazda has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Mazda Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion.

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