A Master of None: The Recommended 2023 Mazda CX-50 Failed to Earn a Perfect Score in Any Consumer Reports Category

The 2023 Mazda CX-50, the newest SUV in the automaker’s lineup, can genuinely be described as a jack-of-all-trades. It has a stiffer suspension than many of its rivals, enhancing its sporty handling and improving its stability in off-road settings. It also comes with standard AWD (complete with an Off-Road drive mode), a competitive towing capacity, and spacious seating.

Consumer Reports was clearly impressed with the 2023 Mazda CX-50, as it received a Recommended badge. However, while the CX-50 does a lot of things well, it couldn’t get a perfect score in any of Consumer Reports testing categories.

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 has plenty of strengths

The Mazda logo, makers of the Mazda CX-50.
Mazda logo | Getty Images

Consumer Reports gave the Mazda CX-50 high scores for its transmission, braking, and emergency handling. Mazda supplied every CX-50 with a six-speed automatic and a 187-hp four-cylinder in the base trim. A 256-hp turbo-four becomes standard starting on the aptly-named 2.5 Turbo trim.

With the base four-cylinder, the Mazda CX-50 can brake from 60-0 mph in just 131 ft if the pavement is dry. Wet tarmac also doesn’t pose much of a problem: in these conditions, you can come to a complete stop in 142 ft. Consumer Reports deduced that this SUV could swerve to miss obstacles at speeds up to 53 mph.

Consumer Reports praised the Mazda CX-50’s accurate steering and satisfactory performance while turning corners. The CX-50 also got good ratings in terms of interior comfort and quality. In particular, Consumer Reports highlighted the impressive amount of front-seat headroom and backseat legroom available.

Here’s where the CX-50 struggles

The Mazda CX-50’s engine provides smooth power delivery, but its acceleration is merely adequate. It needs 9.3 seconds to reach 60 mph. That’s a full second slower than several of its biggest rivals, including the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4

Consumer Reports also would have liked to see better fuel economy numbers. According to Edmunds, the Mazda CX-50 is rated for 24/30 mpg city/highway (or 27 mpg combined). In real-world testing, Consumer Reports rental managed only 24 mpg overall.

Additionally, despite its high score in the transmission category, Consumer Reports still detected a few flaws with the gearbox. It tends to pause in tall gears and doesn’t work well with the standard four-cylinder engine. It gets the job done, but the shifts are sometimes unrefined and create audible shuddering noises.

Consumer Reports was disappointed with the Mazda CX-50’s ride quality, especially if it’s riding on the 20-inch wheels. Testers were jolted in their seats by pretty much every bump in the road, and the 17-inch wheels only provided marginal improvements. Despite its rugged black cladding and upgraded AWD system, Consumer Reports doesn’t think this SUV will be particularly off-road-worthy. 

Except for the ones for the climate system, Consumer Reports also hated many of the CX-50’s interior controls. Unless you’re using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the touchscreen won’t work. 

Instead, you’ll have to navigate through audio and other settings menus with the center console’s rotary dial. The number of controls on the steering wheel is also quite limited, a factor that only added to Consumer Reports frustrations. You can use voice controls instead of the rotary dial, but Consumer Reports says this function isn’t very reliable.

The CX-50 is still a great SUV

Despite complaints about the ride and specific controls, Consumer Reports didn’t give the Mazda CX-50 a bad score in any category. It still excels in the handling department and benefits from an attractive cabin with plenty of room for each rider.

Consumer Reports also predicts that the Mazda CX-50 is one of the most reliable vehicles in the segment. Since it’s already such a promising vehicle, we hope that Mazda will address some of the CX-50’s flaws in upcoming model years.

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