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SUVs are getting bigger and bigger. The Mazda CX-50 is one model that is specially made larger for the American market. After a week with the 2024 Mazda CX-50, I can conclude that bigger is better in most cases, but there are a few things you need to know. 

7 things you need to know about the 2024 Mazda CX-50

I spent a week with the 2024 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus model. It’s the top-spec model with an MSRP of $43,300. The $1,375 destination fee brings the starting price up to $44,675. The entry-level model starts at $31,675 with the destination fee included. 

I took the CX-50 through the entire gauntlet with road trips, city errands, and light off-roading around North and South Carolina to see how it holds up. 

1. The Mazda CX-50 has a fine start to off-roading 

I took the 2024 Mazda CX-50 out into the woods, where gravel roads turned to dirt before nearly disappearing in thick tree blinds. It only has an ‘off-road’ mode while rivals have options for snow, mud, and slippery conditions. 

The tires felt a little slick but the off-road mode optimized power to each wheel for plenty of grip. I’m not confident about this model climbing steep inclines, though. 

Also, it has a ground clearance of 8.3 inches. That’s a little short, most rivals like the Subaru Crosstrek have 8.7 inches. One day, I’ll finally review the CX-50 Meridian with its all-terrain tires and 8.6-inch ground clearance. 

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 Meridian off-roading
2024 Mazda CX-50 Meridian | Mazda

2. The CX-50 is better at heating than cooling 

It’s the time of year in the Carolinas when it’s 78 degrees one day and then 42 degrees the next. On hot afternoons the CX-50 took a few minutes longer than expected to cool off. Also, the ventilated seats have strong blowing power. 

You can feel your clothes flutter in the wind, but the cooling sensation is a little weak. You don’t really notice the ventilation after a few minutes. 

But on frigid mornings, the CX-50 is a great place to spend time. The heated steering wheel and heated seats are extremely toasty. 

Also, the CX-50 actually has rear air vents for passengers! This is an option that may press vehicles in my current fleet are lacking. 

3. The CX-50 doesn’t need a touchscreen 

Instead of having a traditional touchscreen, the CX-50 infotainment system is controlled by a rotary dial. It may be intimidating at first because our nation is used to touching pretty screens for instant results. Even babies can watch YouTube videos on tablets. 

But the rotary dial system is quick and easy to master. Using it to change podcasts, answer calls, and adjust settings is super convenient. It actually feels less distracting than touchscreen setups. 

You can use the infotainment system as a touchscreen with Wireless Apple CarPlay, but honestly, the screen is set pretty far back. It’s hard for shorter folks to reach, so I continued using the rotary dial. 

The 2024 Mazda CX-50  parked near foliage
2024 Mazda CX-50 | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

4. The tech is a little basic

My Mazda CX-50 had an analog gauge cluster, which is wild for this day and age. Even the Ford Maverick has a digital gauge cluster. An analog gauge displays how many miles per gallon you have left on a scale, so you don’t see the exact number. 

The average fuel economy is also on a scale. It was hard to see, but while squinting it seems like I hovered around 21 mpg. 

There aren’t any interior ambient lights and the 360-degree camera view is small and a bit blurry. It’s still helpful, though. Also, there are no USB-C ports in the cabin. This setup may be preferable for some people who want to focus on driving. 

5. The CX-50 turbo is designed to thrill 

The Mazda CX-50 has an available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with up to 256 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque with the use of 91 octane gas. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.0 seconds. 

It’s never short on power for merging into traffic and passing others. The transmission shifts smoothly and the steering is responsive as the body roll is well-controlled around sharp bends. Plus, the brakes are confident. 

Sport mode is more responsive than normal mode if you want to spice up your commute. Typically, I shrug off paddle shifters, but they’re extremely precise in the CX-50 to enhance control. 

6. You’ll enjoy the space 

While storage in the CX-50 for personal items is limited, there’s plenty of space for passengers. The front seats have tons of adjustment controls for various body shapes to find the perfect driving and riding position. 

The rear seat feels cavernous, with tons of space to scratch out. The rear seat has a relaxed incline and there is space for two average adults or three smaller folks. 

You can access up to 31.4 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats and up to 56.3 cubes overall. 

7. The ride is comfortable enough 

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 provides a pretty smooth ride over most surfaces. Its athletic nature means it’s a little stiff, so you do notice a few bumps in the road. However, disruptions are quickly dampened. 

There also might be a little more road noise than expected at highway speeds. But it’s easy to cover with music. 

The front seats are well-padded and supportive to keep you alert and focused on the road. However, the rear seats seem a bit stiff.