Consumer Reports Says the 2023 Mazda CX-50 “Isn’t as Adventurous as It looks”

Many carmakers have spent the last few years trying their best to make crossovers more like SUVs. Typically, the companies give it some cool, outdoorsy, vaguely mountaineering-esque name, followed by slightly more aggressive tires, slightly taller suspension, and maybe some cool new badges. I’m ain’t hatin’; I’m just sayin’… Granted, the new 2023 Mazda CX-50 isn’t really the same thing as some other examples; Mazda is still marketing the CX-50 as a Subaru-esque adventure crossover. Apparently, Consumer Reports isn’t falling for it. 

2023 Mazda CX-50 off-roading with tons of accesories
2023 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

2023 Mazda CX-50 specs

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is an all-new model based on the Mazda CX-30. According to Consumer Reports, Mazda has placed the CX-50 alongside the Subaru Forester and Ford Bronco Sport as a competitor. However, Mazda is marketing it as the more premium version of those adventure SUVs. Consumer Reports tested both the entry-level 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the 256-hp turbocharged version, both with the six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

After Consumer Reports spent some time with the Mazda CX-50, it found that the Mazda was still better suited to winding paved roads than the dirt. After all, this is Mazda we are talking about. 

Compared to its linemate, the Mazda CX-5, the new CX-50 is longer, wider, and taller than the CX-5 but with a lower roofline. These features clearly are meant to push customers to envision themselves with knobby tires, a roof rack, and maybe some rally lights. 

Is the Mazda CX-50 a good SUV? 

Consumer Reports says that despite Mazda’s marketing, the CX-50 is much closer to the smaller Mazda CX-5 than it is any Subaru or the Ford Bronco Sport. However, this doesn’t mean Consumer Reports didn’t like it. 

CR says that the CX-50 was at its best when roads looked like “a garden hose thrown into a basement.” The reviewer even goes so far as to say, “It carves corners as if it were a Porsche Macan. “ Maybe Mazda should go with that instead? 

The interior also follows this sporty theme. The tester says that the seat bolsters held him snug, forcing his body deeper into the seat the harder the corners got. However, at least one part of Mazda’s marketing of the CX-50 is accurate; the interior is something special. CR calls the interior design an “artfully crafted interior that gives a feeling of being a premium product without the premium price.” 

Are there any problems with the new CX-50? 

Other than it clearly not being well-designed for off-road use, Consumer Reports only found two things it really didn’t like. The first is the six-speed automatic transmission exhibited some jarring downshifts that were quite noticeable and uncomfortable. However, that only happens when the car downshifts, which, according to Consumer Reports, The second aspect CR didn’t love is the fact that Mazda’s infotainment system continues to be clumsy and unintuitive. 

Consumer Reports is showing a perfect example of manufacturers doing too much. Let the CX-50 be what it is. Not all SUV-shaped objects have to be earth-crushing off-roaders. Some are just for driving to work and running errands. And that’s cool.

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