I said it before and I’ll say it again. The best thing that happened to Mazda was when Ford spun them off because Mazda had superb vehicles without Ford’s help. In fact, Ford used the Mazda platform for a Ford model or two.
And since then, Mazda has made massive inroads into the crossover market with their popular selling CX-5, CX-30, CX-50 and top-line CX-90 crossovers.
We were privileged to test the compact CX-50 AWD Turbo Meridian Edition that was equipped to handle off-road conditions and excursions, and is a real looker with its roof platform, black hood graphics, cladding and air vents that give it a rugged look for those with an active outdoor lifestyle. It certainly grabbed a lot of eyes.
The CX-50 is slightly larger than the CX-5, but I can foresee it outselling the CX-5. It’s offered in 2.5 S Select, 2.5 S. Preferred, 2.5 S Premium, 2.5 S Premium Plus, 2.5 Turbo and 2.5 Turbo Premium.
My test car was painted Dircon Sand Metallic and it garnered a lot of attention especially when I was filling it at a local gasoline station. One fellow came up to it to give it a closer look and said he was impressed. At first, he thought it was a Subaru since it’s one of several competitive carmakers the CX-50 competes against.
The CX-50 outshines many of them as it comes with a classy, quiet cabin along with a low 19-inch step-in. It’s commendable that Mazda stayed with traditional operating controls that includes a vivid 10.25-inch infotainment display with CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
A digital speedometer and analog supplemental gauges include a driver information display for features, functions and alerts and a heads-up display. CX-50 had a wireless phone charger that was nicely enclosed in the clam shell opening console box.
Heated front seats are supportive and heavily cushioned. But I did miss a heated steering wheel during below freezing temperatures the week we tested it. A burly gear selector controls the standard 6-speed automatic transmission that is supplemented with paddle shifters. Behind it is Mazda’s MI-Drive switch for Normal, Sport and Off-Road drive modes. In Sport mode, engine rpm’s increase by 500 and the trans holds gears a bit longer for livelier performance. And when the turbo kicks in, acceleration is exhilarating. Next to it is a console mounted rotary dial for selecting the various display functions it serves.
The back seats are also nicely padded and offer generous leg and headroom for two adults or three youngsters. And the doors open wide for easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cargo area, and with the rear seats upright, there’s 31.4 cubic feet of load space that measures 41 inches deep, 42 wide and 28 high. Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and cargo capacity expands to 56.3 cubic feet for 73 inches of loading depth. Lift over into the area is a low 27.5 inches. Beneath the cargo floor is a space saver tire along with a full-width bin for small item storage.
CX-50 gets it grunt from a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out 227-hp and 310 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 23 city, 29-highway mpg. Coupled to the 6-speed auto transmission, it carries a tow rating of up to 3,500 pounds.
With a curb weight of 3,206 pounds, CX-50 parks easily with a 36-foot turning diameter. It rides smoothly and quietly on 18-inch tires. With a touch of sportiness, CX-50 handles securely in sharp turns and remains planted throughout.
When the going gets tough, CX-50s I-Active AWD system sends appropriate torque to all four wheels for added traction.
CX-50 came with an extensive list of features and safety items such as lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain sensing wipers, Mazda radar cruise control w/stop and go function, to name a few. The niceties list includes a sunroof, rain sensing wipers with wiper de-ice, power heated outside mirrors and a couple more.
And get this. So abundantly equipped, the only extra cost options were for a cargo mat ($100), Zircon Sand paint ($450) and delivery ($1,235) that took the base price of $40,800 to $43,960. To say the CX-50 is loaded, is an understatement.
CX-50 comes with a 60 month/60K mile powertrain, 36 month/36K mile new vehicle warranties that includes 24-hour roadside assistance.
For a those who like to spend weekends hiking, kayaking, camping and other outdoor pursuits, CX-50 not only looks the part, but can perform the part.