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Mazda has released the new CX-50 compact SUV for the 2023 model year. It joins Mazda’s fleet of crossover SUVs as an off-road SUV option alongside the CX-30, CX-5, CX-9, and MX-30. Here are the five reasons why Kelley Blue Book (KBB) reviewers say the 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a trail-worthy compact SUV: 

1. The Mazda CX-50 has i-ACTIV AWD standard 

A 2023 Mazda CX-50 compact crossover SUV driving on a dirt road as dust trails around it

First, let’s talk about i-ACTIV AWD. After all, it’s at the top of KBB’s list for what makes the 2023 Mazda CX-50 a trail-worthy compact SUV. i-ACTIV AWD is an all-wheel drive system that measures multiple variables for maximum traction. Mazda states the system is “watching for tiny variations in wheel speed that a driver would never notice.”

Factors like weather conditions and steering angle are used to determine maximum traction. The effect is a better response on dry roads and traction in mixed conditions. The system in the smaller Mazda CX-5 crossover made it drive like a champion in the snow.

2. This SUV is standard with Mi-Drive driving modes

Most Mazda models come standard with the Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) system. It offers different driving modes to customize how it feels on roads. The Normal and Sport modes are standard, but the Mazda CX-50 comes with another: Off-Road.

This helps it as an off-road SUV. Mazda explains that this mode coordinates the brakes and engine torque to maximize traction. The traction control and i-ACTIV systems are prepared for slippery surfaces, the transmission is programmed for smooth torque output, and the engine’s idle speed is raised for better climbing.

There’s also a Towing mode for the Mazda CX-50. In it, you can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped with Mazda accessories.

3. A tougher suspension makes the Mazda CX-50 fun to drive

Kelley Blue Book points to the suspension as a primary reason why Mazdas are so much fun to drive. A carefully tuned setup makes a difference in each model.

The Mazda CX-50 is similar to the CX-5 with its front suspension. However, the rear suspension has a tougher torsion beam setup. This keeps the rear under control for the off-road SUV.

4. Added ground clearance makes hitting the trails easier

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a compact SUV, but the ground clearance is 8.3-8.6 inches, depending on the trim level. That’s an inch lower than a Toyota 4Runner but an inch higher than the CX-5 and half an inch taller than the Honda CR-V and Passport models. The larger clearance helps when you leave the road, and the CX-50 takes that into account.

5. Enjoy scratch-proof, glare-proof styling

KBB notes the bits of black plastic trim on the exterior are typical for off-road SUVs. When you’re going off-road, that means there’s less paint that the terrain can scratch. It is a small way to maintain the investment you made. Specific locations for the plastic trim – the wheel wells, side skirts, and bumpers – are common targets for scratches.

There’s even an option for a matte plastic patch on the hood of the CX-50. This prevents glare from the hood from reflecting into the driver’s eyes as mixed conditions can provide odd angles. 

Is buying the Mazda CX-50 worth it?

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 adds a new off-road SUV focus to the brand’s fleet. It gives drivers plenty to take off the road with comfort, style, and technology to tackle different terrain. There are nine trims to choose from: 2.5 S, 2.5 S Select, 2.5 S Preferred, 2.5 S Preferred Plus, 2.5 S Premium, 2.5 S Premium Plus, 2.5 Turbo, 2.5 Turbo Premium, and 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus. This means there’s a trim option for buyers of different priorities.

Additionally, the CX-50 doesn’t come at a high price. The base CX-50’s MSRP starts at $26,800, less than other compact SUVs like the Ford Escape and the Nissan Rogue. The CX-50’s top trim – the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus – compares well to the Honda Passport’s off-road Trailsport trim. It also provides more torque, better clearance, and better fuel economy at a lower price. 

If you are looking for an off-road SUV at a great value, the CX-50 is worth it.


The 2023 Mazda CX-50 Has More Value Than the Toyota RAV4