By on November 15, 2021

Mazda

The Los Angeles Auto Show is this week — yes, it’s actually happening, as of this writing, and this author is boarding a flight for Cali tomorrow — and one of the vehicles that had been teased in advance of the show was the Mazda CX-50.

Your humble scribe was supposed to be in L.A. this past weekend to see it, but COVID caused Mazda’s off-site to be binned. Which is why I’m instead looking at press photos while sitting here in cold-ass Chicago.

Mazda

The CX-50 is a new model, slated to be built in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s another crossover, full of the Mazda “zoom-zoom” ethos, but meant to be rugged enough for relatively light off-roading. All-wheel drive will be standard, along with a system of customizable drive modes. Two engines will be on offer — a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.5-liter four. A six-speed automatic is the sole transmission available.

Electrification is in the cards, and that includes a hybrid model, though Mazda is mum on further details at this point. A panoramic moonroof will be available for the first time on any Mazda. A terracotta interior color joins some new-to-Mazda exterior colors.

Mazda

“This new Mazda vehicle has been developed for North America, particularly to support the active and outdoor lifestyles of customers in this region,” Jeff Guyton, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations said in the press release. “The CX-50 encourages people to immerse themselves in nature without compromising on the premium design and outstanding on-road performance Mazda is known for.”

Mazda

You’ll notice I’m not saying much on specs. That’s because Mazda will be releasing more info at a later date. For now, we can gaze upon Mazda’s newest crossover, which seems like a natural competitor to the upcoming Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X.

One thing we do know — Mazda intends to begin production in January 2022.

[Images: Mazda]

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67 Comments on “Another Zoomy Crossover: Meet the Rugged Mazda CX-50...”


  • avatar
    Asbertus

    “a natural competitor to the upcoming Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X”

    What? these two are fully electric, what you been smoking there Tim?

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I kind of like the color and wonder if Mazda will borrow the plug-in hybrid kit from Toyota at some point. I’m vaguely intrigued by the plug-in hybrid found in the RAV4, but we’ll stick with the 2.5T in the Mazda3 for awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “wonder if Mazda will borrow the plug-in hybrid kit from Toyota at some point.”

      Which would make sense since isn’t this Mazda being built at a joint venture facility with Toyota?

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    That lead photo, the headlights look very Fiat 124 to my eye, but overall, I like it!

  • avatar
    make_light

    It looks pretty good, but they’re clearly just chasing buyers seeking the facade of outdoorsy-ness. The reason Mazda’s current lineup of SUVs stands out is because they’re more posh and sleek than competitors, so now I wonder if they’ll lose that uniqueness.

    I just don’t understand why Mazda is also giving the current CX-5 a decent upgrade this year… why bother investing that money into what is already a nice crossover, if this is just bound to replace it?

    • 0 avatar
      Indubitable

      Passport, Explorer Timberline, Outback Wilderness, Trailhawk, RAV4 TRD…. the list goes on and on and on. These outdoorsy SUVs are high-trim “lifestyle” vehicles, and command impressive margins. I’m sure CX-5’s sell well, but imagine essentially the same car but some cladding… Mazda execs made a good business decision.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I have to wonder how many Wranglers and Broncos are bought for the “facade of outdoorsy-ness.” Or in this case substitute “image” for “facade”?

  • avatar
    ajla

    It has satin black hood decals to reduce glare when doing serious off-road maneuvers.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Is this theoretically on the large car platform that Mazda are developing as the rumors suggest, or will this be a modified version of the CX-5?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I read it’s based on the CX-30

      ” Car and Driver reports that the platform under the CX-50’s “rugged” cladding will be the same one found under the Mazda3 and Mazda CX-30. “

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        So…lousy back seat and limited visibility. I drove a CX30 and was not very impressed.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          The wheelbase is longer than the CX-5, so bad guess there! The platform seems to have been been both pulled and stretched from the 3 and CX-30, I’d say. But that’s a guess — C/D says the wheelbase exceeds that of the CX-5, not me.

          Just before I logged in here, and since I own a 2019 Mazda6, the Canadian H.O. sent me the CX-50 birh announcement via e-mail. I think the tray on top is standard because it’s in every photo. Seeing that the CX-50 has an available panoramic glass roof, an unobstructed view of the underside of the roof tray is available for nothing!

          I don’t think from the pix that the interior of this new CX-50 is anywhere near CX-5 quality standards, though, and the CX-5 has IRS, which this beast does not.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I like that car companies are butching up their crossovers. One doesn’t always need a full blown SUV, but sometimes one wants a bit more then a standard crossover. Enter Renegade, Bronco Sport etc.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Exactly, not everyone is looking to tackle the Rubicon.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree this seems a smart move, Jeep does rather well with it’s rugged trims of car based SUV’s. A lot of traction controls can happen in the software. Really making them and inch or two higher from the factory with some aggressive looking rubber and I think you have a bit of a winner. I think a lot of car makers are coming around to this idea that a CUV can look rugged.

  • avatar
    shifter25

    I’m a little surprised that this is based on the Mazda 3/CX-30 and not sharing platform or powertrain as the Corolla Cross on the TNGA since it will be built in the same plant in Huntsville, AL. Where’s the economy of scale in badge engineering? It seems two completely different vehicles are being built there.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Same factory, different lines. The economy of scale will come from within Mazda’s platform sharing. They were also risk hedging in case Trump totally destroyed NAFTA.

      Remember, they used to build Camry in the same factory as Legacy and Outbacks over in Indiana. So this isn’t exactly new.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This is a good car. Give it a year of production. Subaru is shaking

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      @slavuta – LOL! 2009: Toyota Venza – “This is a good car. Give it a year of production”…2015: Toyota Venza discontinued. Subaru shaking from laughter. 2009: Honda Crosstour – “This is a good car. Give it a year of production”…2015: Honda Crosstour discontinued. Subaru continues shaking with laughter. 2022: Mazda CX-50 begins production. Subaru shakes its head disbelief, “What? They’re trying again?”.

      • 0 avatar

        Wait until new Fusion Active arrives to Ford dealerships. By then Subaru will be dead. Ford will kill its own child just like Ivan the Terrible did.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_the_Terrible_and_His_Son_Ivan

      • 0 avatar

        Wait until new Fusion Active arrives to Ford dealerships. By then Subaru will be dead. Ford will kill its own child just like Ivan the Terrible did.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_the_Terrible_and_His_Son_Ivan

        • 0 avatar
          redapple

          Toyota is a major partner in projects with Subaru and Mazda. Either falter? Buy them. Add them fully to the Toyota family and build them back. Integrate design. Badge engineer more.
          Bang – locked into being #1 in world sales for 100 years.
          No harm done.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Mazda cx30 sales +50%. Crosstrek +25%. cx30 is just a better executed crosstrek and people voting with their $$$

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          LOL! Last month sales of CX-30 – 3,147; last month sales of Crosstrek – 10,591. Subaru is shaking, SHAKING! “Good grief! We’re only outsellin’ ’em by 3 times the volume! Arghhhh!”.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            The battle is on. The war isn’t over. A year ago 2,000 buyers of CX30 for this month would be driving in Crosstrek

          • 0 avatar
            spookiness

            I’m a bit of a Mazda fan, but there is no way this, the CX-30, or any other Mazda is going to outsell Crosstrek or Outback anytime soon even if the vehicles were superiour. You can’t easily undo 30 years of marketing that convinced most American’s that you need AWD just to drive in the rain, + “love” and dogs and stuff.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Zero ruggedness and any Zoom likely removed due to added weight. I’m getting really tired of the lies everyone is telling themselves and each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I had a Pontiac Sunbird that I drove on all the terrain shown in the press photos without any issues. In fact there was a popular swimming hole I used to ford in it. And it didn’t have any unpainted plastic cladding to assist.
      Additionally, wasn’t it Pontiac that got raked over the coals for years because of unnecessary cladding? Was that worse because it was usually painted?
      The future of cars is tall riding tear drops. Just like it was in 1941.

    • 0 avatar

      I mean I’m not a CUV guy but it seems like this is expanding part of the market. Slightly more rugged CUV’s, Most people aren;t offroading but a lot of people like the looks of Jeeps etc so why not give them what they want? Really if you put decent skid plates, tires and traction controls on something like this it will go pretty far offroad. My outback never lacked for traction but the low hanging underbody kept me from going further offroad than fire and dirt access roads here in New England. I once watched a friend hammer a 1988 firechicken thru a trail that guys with stock F150 4x4s had issues with (if you don;t care what you break it’s amazing what a car will do)

      Now on this particular one I;m curious to see al the mechincal info. What changes did they make to justify this things existence with all the other similar vehicles in their profile? Why change the wheelbase etc? Seems like they could have some cool surprises in store but maybe that just wishful thinking. Maybe a higher payload and tow rating required changes to the rear axle? that would be neat.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Old Plan: Mazda is Mazda

    Current Plan: Mazda will be Lexus

    New Plan: Mazda will be Subaru

    (I heard this vehicle will have Tank Turn capability. Don’t tell anyone because it’s embargoed.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Really knocks it out of the park in the zoom zoom department.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like it, especially that camo color.

    But the upcoming I-6 interests me more, although I guess it won’t/can’t go into this vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      If I was getting an ICE for a daily driver, I’d definitely go for the inline 6. I wish Mazda had thought about that 20 years ago. Would have saved me some BMW repair bills. Maybe would have spent some cash on rust repair though.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, the new SUV looks really nice. But I do find the product positioning a little odd, as Mazda is more known for on-road prowess. Well, it still may be a nice product. Also, maybe it makes more sense in international markets, where Mazda may be perceived differently from here?

  • avatar
    conundrum

    https://www.mazda.ca/en/introducing-the-cx-50/#design

    “cabin that takes its cues from outdoor equipment, such as the grip of a telephoto lens and the resilient, sturdy fabric of hiking backpacks, the CX-50 inspires”

    Well, jeez, just the thing to clamber out of my driveway mid-winter in style! Gotta keep up with the Subaru Forester Wilderness.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    You know who they are at your office. The hipsters wearing flannel shirts who never ran a chainsaw or swung an axe in their life. Or the married person with Merrel shoes and The North Face jacket/coat who thinks the ramps in the parking garage are kinda steep if they’re wet. Or the person wearing cowboy boots who has never, ever cared for, gave shots to, fed, or cleaned up after a cow. Don’t get me started about the Wranglers with oversize mudders, lift kits and of course a Bloomfield Jack (a darn fine product, please keep buying them to keep the factory going)to traverse the speed bumps at the fashion mall.

    It’s OK if you’re tongue-in-cheek about your little cheapie CUV. Escapes, Bronco Sports, the tiny Jeep are all fine if you give someone a wink, wink, nudge, nudge when the guy with the lifted truck starts going on about its four-wheel drive prowess.

    It’s all in being honest. Mad props if your Jeep gets all sorts of muddy dirty or if your truck thinks forest roads are a good starting point. More respect if you can say; it’s a CUV, it hauls big boxes and has four-wheel drive for bad weather.

    What should be greeted with massive disrespect and heaped with scorn is some corporate PR person saying our newest vehicle helps our customers embrace their outdoor spirit and engage in rugged activities we can only imagine! Oh, this corporate-speak was not only approved; many many work hours were spent developing the PowerPoint deck that espoused all this.

    • 0 avatar

      I used to offroad alot. Most of what I went offroading with are pretty tame by todays standards (29-33″ tall tires 1-2 inches of lift rear limted slips). I haven’t been further offroad then some old access roads and fire roads in 5-6 years. But for some reason when ever I loook at cars anything with some offroad esthetic always appeals to me more then the ones without.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I certainly like the design, inside and out. But oh, wait! That infotainment setup! They’re still trying to convince people that a remote rotary controller is a better method – when we live in the world of touch screens? Apple doesn’t give me a rotary controller for my iPad or iPhone because touching and swiping DIRECTLY on the display works better.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      I’ve had cars with both, and I can’t say I agree. I find the rotary controller infinitely safer and easier to use, especially while driving. And I’m still young with good dexterity and eye sight. I can’t understand why touch screens have become the industry standard.

      • 0 avatar

        My parents have had 3 Mazda’s over the last 6-7 years, and I think the rotary is the better solution. Once you get the hang of it I think it’s so much easier then reaching over to the Touch screen on My wifes Honda. It’s actually one of the reasons I find my self browsing for a used 6 as a commuter car.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      JLGolden,

      Apple knows that when you use your iPhone, you are both staring at the phone and holding it with one or both hands. Meaning touchscreen is usually a good way to interact with your iPhone. But when you drive, you are looking at the road (I hope) and holding the wheel (I hope). Meaning, the use case is completely different.

      The rotary knob makes a lot of sense for a car application because it is always in the same place, and you always move it the same few ways. You don’t have to hunt around for the precise place to put your finger, which is one thing that makes touchscreens bad for cars.

      Also, please note that Apple provided you with physical button controls for volume. Because when you are on a phone call, you don’t want to be pulling the phone away from your ear and losing focus on your phone call. Driving is like that in a way. Simple, repeatable controls are important.

      Touch screens are common (I won’t call them an industry standard) because they have become cheaper than buttons. And because they help position your car as new and shiny. Not for functional reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      Touchscreens are garbage in cars; you have to support the weight of your arm stretched out all the way to make little precise inputs on an object with no physical reference points. A dial can be clunky but you don’t have to divert all attention from the road to use it.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      The question is – have you tried it?
      I have Mazda with it and I drove a Lexus with a touch pad, and I mean for good 8 hours. First, lets talk about touch screen. I believe, Mazda removed that now but in mine I have the touch screen and guess what? – Even at stationary I use the knob because I so used to it, it is natural.
      Lexus touchpad – garbage. At least vs Mazda knob.
      Verdict – may be for you it seem less intuitive but once you use it for 1 hour, it becomes so familiar, you just keep a hand on it because you always want to check something.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I really like the front end but man that’s a lot of front overhang. Nice clean interior design in spite of the trendy infotainment screen sprouting out of the top of the dash.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I’m still amazed by the first line of the story. Cornyfornya is allowing a live, in the flesh, car show?

    • 0 avatar
      Tirpitz

      Yes but it is in the city of LA so masks mandatory indoors and proof of vaccination required for entry. I don’t recall if the show is allowing recent negative test instead of vaccination.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        This is really cool, especially in the context of the latest study. You can be fully vaccinated by J&J with your QR code and all 9 yards. But if you did this 6 months ago, its effectiveness is about 3% now (read – ZERO). How to say this?…. what are they trying to achieve?

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    We have a CX-5 and Mazda 6. The 2020 CX-5 is just fine for the wife. I was driving around running errands and I bottomed out the suspension in the 6 because of how bad the roads are here. I really don’t want a CUV thing but this might be comfortable enough. The CX-5 seats are just a tad too narrow for me.

    Looking at reports this is wider and longer than the CX-5. My only concern is the rear torsion beam suspension vs the independent of the CX-5.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The controls are the most difficult part to integrate later, for a factory look, vs a The Home Depot dimmer switch. I’m sure the heat elements are there too.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    *extended groan*

    So much for the Kodo design language.

  • avatar
    Undead Zed

    all that hood and all they have available is a 4 pot? I get that it’s par for the course for vehicles of this size but I’d love to get one of these with an NA V6.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Personally I like the roatary control on my Miata better than the touch screen on my Toyota. Granted it was a bit of a learning curve with the twirling and pressing. Something about not having to take my eye off the road while I reach out to target a small area on the dash mounted screen is very satisfying.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve used both generations of Mazda’s rotary interface and find the updated interface to be miles ahead of the first generation in its responsiveness. There are very clear detents within the main knob, so if you hit your home button and count detents left or right it’s pretty easy to get to the right menu.

    A zonk that I have is within the native AM/FM/XM environment. It’s difficult to seek forward to a new station and you have to open a submenu. I wish Mazda had attached that to the rocker hooked to the volume knob, but they didn’t. With the decent voice recognition, I’d say it’s truly picking nits.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      This has always been my complaint with the Mazda system. It takes multiple clicks to scan radio stations. Obviously, the solution is to have all your favorites saved and then just cycle through them, but a quicker way to manually tune a station should be included.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    “…the active and outdoor lifestyles of customers in this region,” don’t they know everyone rides a Peloton indoors? When will this myth of outdoors lifestyle be put to bed? It should read, ‘the numerous trips to Costco made by customers in this region.’

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