6 Things Consumer Reports Likes About the 2023 Mazda CX-50

It’s no secret Mazda has been upping its SUV game. The automaker has become especially adept at coming up with stylish crossovers, with more aggressive designs popping up every year. The latest in its CX series, the 2023 Mazda CX-50, is a prime example.

The small crossover boasts a longer, wider, and squarer body than its sibling the CX-5. It also offers more rugged styling to rival adventure-driven crossovers such as the Subaru Forester and Ford Bronco Sport. And after taking a spin in the 2023 Mazda CX-50, Consumer Reports testers found several other things to like about it.

2023 Mazda CX-50 overview

2023 Mazda CX-50 Consumer Reports
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda North American Operations

Upon first driving the 2023 Mazda CX-50, Consumer Reports testers said the new crossover SUV was most comparable to the CX-5 — but about 10 times better.

Mazda also paints the CX-50 as a more powerful, higher-end version of other SUVs in its lineup. And going by that, you can expect more capability out of this model than the CX-30, with which it shares a platform.

1. Agile handling

When it comes to handling, the 2023 Mazda CX-50 performs exceptionally for a crossover SUV. According to Consumer Reports, it performed better on pavement than dirt roads, but it still makes for a delightful drive. Its capabilities can be seen especially on twisty roads, where it effortlessly navigates curves while maintaining grip. This can be attributed to its responsive and quick steering.

Drivers can select from normal, off-road, and sport modes, allowing the CX-50 to retain the same feel in various driving situation. As a result, it moves smoothly, at fast and slow speeds and on dirt and paved roads.

2. Optional turbo powertrain

Consumer Reports testers also like that the 2023 Mazda CX-50 offers buyers a choice between the entry-level 187-hp 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and a 256-hp turbocharged engine. The turbo, in particular, delivers power linearly and responds well to throttle input. Additionally, its shifts are swift and smoothly executed.

Both engine options pair with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission, which should be adequate for most drivers. But at the same time, it might come off as underwhelming if you’re already accustomed to the eight-, nine-, or 10-speed transmissions that are becoming increasingly popular.

3. Ideal driving position

Every element in the 2023 Mazda CX-50’s cabin is symmetrically and intuitively placed, including the pedals, armrests, and left footrest. That ensures the driver is always in a comfortable seating position. Its side-view mirrors are also placed close enough that they allow a great view of the sides and corners. 

One complaint is that the cockpit feels a bit narrow, mainly because of the plastic center console that takes up some of the driver’s knee space, Consumer Reports notes.

4. Well-designed seating

Based on feedback from Consumer Reports testers of different physiques, the seats in the Mazda CX-50 are comfortable enough to accomodate people of all shapes and sizes. The combination of soft synthetic leather (on higher trims) and firm but cozy cushions allow for long-distance comfort that will stand the test of time.

The front seats have a fair range of tilt options for the bottom cushion and adjustable lumbar support.

The rear seats are equally well designed. They have a nice shape that cradles passengers. There’s also plenty of room for feet, knees, and shoulders.

5. Excellent interior fit and finish

Another feature Consumer Reports appreciates is the 2023 Mazda CX-5’s cabin quality. Families will be especially pleased that it’s roomier than its siblings, fitting up to four tall adults comfortably. Its rear doors open out to an almost 90-degree angle, so siding in and out of the vehicle is a breeze.

The compact crossover also has rather opulent and contemporary finishes. According to Consumer Reports, it offers luxury at an affordable price. Its dashboard and door panels are composed of soft material and quality plastics, topped by polished metallic accents and premium-feeling synthetic leather upholstery for the premium version (the base version comes with cloth upholstery).

CR also notes pluses such as chrome and glossy black accents, heated and ventilated rear and front seats, and a tastefully integrated infotainment display.

6. Physical climate controls

Borrowing from German luxury cars, the CX-50’s climate control system is located on the center stack in a driver-focused manner. It features a mix of digital and analog instrumentation in a way that’s familiar and easy to spot.

The controls are physical buttons, which are appropriately large and feel high-quality. They also give a solid click as they rotate, allowing the driver to confirm their selection while keeping their eyes on the road.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50’s rugged design sets it apart

We couldn’t go without acknowledging the 2023 Mazda CX-50’s rugged design. To put it into perspective, imagine a bulkier, sportier, and wider CX-5. Its wheelbase is about four inches wider than its sibling. Add to that a lower roofline and a longer length, and the CX-50 has a sportier appearance.

The CX-50 isn’t as tall as the CX-5, but with 8.6 inches of ground clearance, it’s still higher off the ground, giving it more off-road prowess.

Other sporty features you’ll appreciate are the headlights and taillights, a hexagonal grille with black and silver accents, and a well-positioned roof spoiler. It also has air vents, well-defined character lines, and a panoramic sunroof (on higher trims), which goes miles in enhancing the vehicle’s character.

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