Mazda CX-50 Debuts Soon, Allegedly Off-Road Friendly

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mazda has announced that the 2023 CX-50 will debut on November 15th, foreshadowing its production launch in January of 2022 at the Alabama plant it shares with Toyota. That means odds are good that the model will share more than a few components with the Toyota Corolla Cross. But Mazda has been adamant that CX-50 is a unique vehicle riding on its very own platform.

Unique is a relative term, however, when the upcoming model represents another “lifestyle vehicle” designed to convince consumers that a jack-of-all-trades crossover is ready and willing to drag them up the side of a mountain. Officially, Mazda is claiming this one caters to adults with particularly active lifestyles and has surrounded it with nature-themed marketing materials. That presumably has something to do with the CX-50 boasting “enhanced all-wheel-drive capabilities.”

Of course, we cannot confirm or deny those improvements until someone has actually slogged one through a swap or battered it down a dry riverbed. We don’t even know what the CX-50 looks like yet and only have the most basic details of its mechanical makeup. Mazda has only been willing to confirm that the mid-sized crossover will use the same platform as the current Mazda3/CX-30 and feature all-wheel drive.

That had us assuming AWD would be optional. However numerous outlets( e.g. AutoBlog) have suggested the CX-50 would not replace the CX-5 due to the former having made all-wheel drive standard equipment. We remain dubious, particularly because the CX-5 already offers i-ACTIV AWD and would undoubtedly exist in the same space. But the older crossover is an exceptionally good one and highlights how Mazda has managed to transform mainstream vehicles into something that feels (and looks) like something a little more premium.

The teasers don’t show us much of the vehicle and what we can see has it hidden behind some distant, moss-covered trees. But it appears to be just as curvatons as the current CX-5 with a touch more ground clearance. It’s also shown driving exclusively on a dirt trail, which could be Mazda’s way of telling us something.

Perhaps the CX-50 really is taking a more off-road focused approach and the updated AWD system is there to seal the deal. If Subaru can sell Impreza wagons alongside the Crosstrek, then there’s a case to be made for Mazda to have a second mid-sizer with some newer tech and more off-road goodies. But we remain convinced that this is a risk and the brand will dump the CX-5 the second it appears unprofitable.

As for the CX-50’s hardware, we’re expecting a standard Skyactiv 2.5-liter and optional turbo 2.5-liter inline-four found in other Mazda products. That means output somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 horsepower, with turbo-equipped models being closer to 250 hp. While early speculation had the crossover getting an inline-six Mazda’s longitudinal platform isn’t expected to appear until the CX-70 and CX-90 arrive sometime in 2023.

Speaking of which, we don’t currently know whether the brand plans on offering the CX-50 as a 2022 model-year vehicle or MY 2023. We’ve heard both and, while it’s sort of trivial since the number doesn’t really matter to anyone but regulators, expect Mazda to clear things up on November 15th when the crossover debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

[Image: Mazda]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Slavuta Slavuta on Nov 10, 2021

    Mazda is stupid. Take the Mazda6 wagon, stretch it a bit and elevate. Slap some plastic on the wheel wells and call it a CX-60. There comes your money, honey. And now with Mazda6 going to future RWD, there will be enough distinction between two.

  • AK AK on Nov 11, 2021

    There's already a lot of overlap in the CX30 and the CX5. I don't understand how they're going to jam another one of these things into the 30-35k price range. Also, Mazda is getting close to Infiniti levels of stupid with their naming scheme.

    • Slavuta Slavuta on Nov 11, 2021

      In price - may be. In size and interior setting - not at all. In CX30 there is no rear legroom and the rear seat is not reclining and is fixed in fairly uncomfortable upright position.

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.