SUVs are popular not only in North America but also in other international markets, which is why Mazda has decided to invest heavily in this niche.
The Mazda CX-50, which will soon be followed by the CX-70 and CX-90, is the spearhead of this new offensive, and capitalizes on the brand’s driving forces of design and dynamic driving. This model also sets a new milestone since it is assembled at the American plant in Huntsville, Alabama, which is a joint venture with the Japanese automobile giant Toyota. With a more adventurous vocation, the CX-50 joins the CX-5 in the manufacturer’s range, the latter having a more urban vocation according to Mazda. Will the coexistence be peaceful or will we see a fratricidal struggle develop between these two models? Story to follow.
One thing is certain, the Mazda CX-50 hits the bull’s-eye on the design side with its rugged look that nevertheless demonstrates refinement. Next to a Subaru Forester Wilderness or a Toyota RAV4 Trail, both embellished with questionably styled body elements, the CX-50 announces its vocation without falling into caricature.
A luxurious look
The design of the body is echoed in that of the passenger compartment where the quality of materials and interior finish emulates that of top-of-the-range vehicles.
This was already the case for several vehicles from the Japanese brand, but the CX-50 raises the bar a notch in this regard, especially with the models dressed in terracotta-colored leather upholstery, which is magnificent. Also, as is often the case with Mazda vehicles, it is easy to quickly find the ideal driving position and all the controls fall easily to hand, the ergonomics being flawless. With this model, Mazda is adding touchscreen functionality, but for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto only and not for the entire infotainment system, which is a shame.
Turbo engine on the program
Two engines can animate the CX-50. The first is naturally aspirated and the second is turbocharged, but both can run on regular gasoline, sacrificing some horsepower.
Testing a CX-50 GT with a turbo engine revealed that the torque is very satisfactory and that the six-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job in all circumstances. However, we would have liked Mazda to follow in the footsteps of the competition by adopting an eight-speed gearbox, which would no doubt have made it possible to reduce fuel consumption at highway speeds.
That being said, the CX-50 Turbo can tow up to 3,500 pounds, and the various driving modes allow you to quickly configure the vehicle’s behavior according to the environment in which it is moving. Thus, when the driver drives in mode Normal and raises your foot slightly off the accelerator, the automatic transmission shifts up a gear to maintain the pace. In Sport mode, the gearbox will instead keep the current gear so that the driver can have maximum torque for exiting the bend the vehicle is approaching. When the fashion Towing is selected, the system G-Vectoring Control increases torque delivery to the axle to maintain steering precision and reduce sway. Finally, the mode Offroad puts all the systems of the CX-50 at the service of optimizing traction on loose surfaces, and it has proven to be particularly effective on gravel as well as on muddy trails in the forest. But the ace up the sleeve of the CX-50 is its dynamics on paved roads, which is far superior to that of competing vehicles.
No doubt, the 2022 Mazda CX-50 is a great success for Mazda, and all that’s missing is an eight-speed gearbox and an all-weather touchscreen to meet our expectations. A hybrid version is also on the way and its arrival is scheduled for 2023, possibly as a 2024 model.