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Mazda SUVs have earned plenty of praise, especially the CX-5 and all-new CX-50. Most automotive experts include the two models high on best-of lists. So Kelley Blue Book’s recent roundup is surprising. Both the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50 rank at the bottom of KBB’s “Best Compact SUVs of 2023.” They barely made the cut. What happened?

KBB’s ‘Best Compact SUVs of 2023’ list puts Mazda SUVs at the bottom

Mazda SUVs: Mazda CX-5
2023 Mazda CX-5 | Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some might say being included is all that matters — but landing at the bottom of a list means competitors scored higher. The 2023 CX-5 and CX-50 are featured in KBB’s “Best Compact SUVs of 2023,” but they barely made it. The two Mazda SUVs rank in 10th and 11th place, and only 11 models are on the list. Take a look at which models ranked above Mazda:

  1. Honda CR-V
  2. Honda CR-V Hybrid
  3. Audi Q5
  4. Kia Sportage
  5. Kia Sportage Hybrid
  6. Toyota RAV4
  7. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  8. Kia Sportage Plug-In Hybrid
  9. Toyota RAV4 Prime
  10. Mazda CX-5
  11. Mazda CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 is a ‘superb choice’ and feels luxurious to drive

The 2023 Mazda CX-5 ranks toward the bottom of KBB’s “Best Compact SUVs of 2023” list. Although it’s 10th, it’s still one of the finest compact crossovers and a best-seller among Mazda SUVs.

It looks and drives like a premium SUV, according to Kelley Blue Book, which calls it a “superb choice.” Its luxurious details include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and reclining rear seats.

The base price is $26,700, and the popular 2.5 S Preferred trim starts at $30,190, but there are eight trims to choose from. All-wheel drive is standard on all trims, and the 2023 CX-5 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. 

In addition, this Mazda SUV offers two engine choices. The 2.5-liter inline-four makes 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. It gets an EPA-estimated 24/30 mpg city/highway. And the upgraded engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 227/256 hp and 310/320 lb-ft of torque. It gets 22/27 mpg city/highway. But both boast Mazda’s signature zippy handling.

So why the low ranking on KBB’s list? The CX-5’s biggest drawback is its subpar cargo space compared with most rivals.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is stylish and sporty

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 finishes dead last in Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Compact SUVs of 2023” — in the eleventh spot. This all-new Mazda SUV is based on the subcompact CX-30’s chassis.

Compared to the CX-5, the CX-50 is “slightly bigger and more adventurous,” KBB says. It has a sleek yet rugged exterior, while its interior is sporty yet upscale. Like the CX-5, it accommodates five riders, and the second row’s folding bench seat has ample legroom.

One of the most notable cons KBB notes is this new Mazda SUV is so similar to the CX-5. It’s also not really an off-roader despite its robust design and AWD, but an upgraded turbocharged engine is available.

The 2023 CX-50 starts at $27,550, and many trims and optional upgrades are available, including an off-road trim. Prices steadily increase to $42,300 for the range-topping 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus.

Under the hood, the base model’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. But the turbocharged option produces 227 hp (256 hp with 93-octane gas) and 320 lb-ft torque. All trims have AWD.

In addition, the CX-50 is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick. And notable amenities include adaptive front lighting, an active driving display, and a 360-degree-view monitor. An 8.8-inch infotainment screen comes standard, but buyers can upgrade to a 10.25-inch display.

So, are the 2023 Mazda CX-5 and CX-50 worth considering?

Seeing the 2023 Mazda CX-5 and the CX-50 at the bottom of KBB’s list, one might wonder if other reviews were inflated. But we think these two models are still worthy of topping roundups — and a bottom ranking on one list still means both are among the best.

It’s just there are so many new SUV models and upgrades, especially in the compact SUV segment, that there’s a massive number of new rivals in a class that was already crowded. 


Mazda Makes 2 of the Best Compact SUVs of 2023