Susan Frissell, Editor,

Feeling the need for some R&R and leaf peeping, we headed up to Door County, WI for a week. Played tourist in a place we know well having spent a fair amount of time in Sister Bay and the other beautiful communities. We could have used a few more days of sun, but instead made our way around in the rain that often hangs around this time of year. In all its seasons, there is much to do in Door, including taking a scenic boat tour, trying out the great restaurants, stepping into a state park or two, and of course sight-seeing on the Door County Trolley.

Frosting on the cake just happened to be in the form of the new 2023 Mazda CX-50 SUV in Machine Gray Metallic we test drove. The CX-50 2.5 turbo is a great road car and handled the 4-hour drive quietly and comfortably. There were four of us, each with his/her own seat providing a comfortable drive. As with most vehicles today, the CX-50 seats come with several ways to adjust, accommodating all size passengers. The ride was smooth with minimal road noise, and we averaged just under 25 mpg at speeds of 70 mph.

Handling well, our test CX-50 was equipped with 20-inch tires, resulting in a somewhat stiffer ride. This writer appreciated the tight feel and handling of this medium sized SUV. This new Mazda nameplate is set to take on other compact crossover rivals including the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. The CX-50 has earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

Available in several iterations, the CX-50 starts at $27,550. Our fleet car carried an MSRP of $42.300; top of the line. Different drive modes including the i-Activ AWD, and the available turbo engine. The 2.5 turbo offers plenty of power and although a tad noisy, feels just right. Built in Huntsville, AL, the new CX-50 comes well-equipped, but not all buyers will opt for the top-of-the-line.

The interior of our test car was leather with 60-40 folding bench seats, eat back rear seat and power windows. For those having trouble deciding which trim level to choose, Mazda offers several-11!

The new CX-50 has quick acceleration with its turbocharged engine, sharp handling and although we didn’t have the opportunity to try it out, a decent off-road capability. It looks the part.

At first we found the ride somewhat stiff, but after time adjusted to it and actually preferred it. The interior although attractive, has stiff seating and after several hours, this writer found herself trying to get comfortable. Although several versions are available, the new CX-50 top-of-the-line isn’t cheap at close to $45,000. For an SUV this size, paying close to $45,000 may take some consideration for the average SUV driver.

Cargo capacity isn’t the best in class, but we managed to load enough stuff for 4 passengers in the luggage area, with a little room to spare.

The CX-50 does provide sharp handling and a solid ride. The first of a new generation of SUV, the CX-50 is available as an all-new for 2023 vehicle, and new category for Mazda to compete in. The bigger CX-5 is larger but similar and may confuse buyers as Mazda tries to grab them from the same class of SUV. The CX-50 has an off-road look to it and resembles the competition: Subaru. It sports a handsome shape and offers a much improved off-road and towing capabilities compared to its stablemate.

Buyers can go off-road and can expect to tow which will appeal to those who often go toward the Subaru SUV’s. This all-new offering will sell alongside its stable mate the Mazda CX-5. When you see them together, it’s more obvious they do have their own look. Not only are they similar, they compete in the same class, with differences. It becomes clear the new CX-50 is off-road inspired.

The CX-50 combines the steering and traction control system to act more like an off-road vehicle. Staying on its path, the CX-50 has either 8.3 or 8.6 inches of ground clearance (think Subaru Forester). The Meridian Edition adds all-terrain tires.

Again, the new CX-50 is the first vehicle to be made in the new Huntsville, AL plant; a joint venture with Toyota. Available in the base edition (187-hp, 4-sylinder) and the turbo version (out test vehicle) with 256 hp (using 93 octane gas). The same engines found in its stablemate, the CX-5, is the one with the towing capacity.

Spacious and well-appointed, the new CX-50 is fun to drive, feels heavy and firm and a firmer ride than in the CX-5. Handling is unique and promises a fun driving experience for cars in this category.

One of the irritations for the sports fans riding with us was getting the right station to follow sports of the day. After finally figuring it out, it didn’t seem so forbidding, just in need of a little patience.

There is a lot to like about Mazda’s new edition to the fleet and other than some rather high pricing for the turbo, it should be sought after by those looking for something out of the Mazda lot.


Pricing: $26,700-$39,650. Test car: MSRP $42,300,handling fee $1,275, Full price $44,170
Engine: Skyactive 2.5L with twin scroll turbocharger, 227 horsepower, 310 lb-ft torque
Transmission: Automatic with manual mode mode
Tires: P245/45 R20 all-season
Length: 180.1 in.
Width: 72.6 in.
Height: 66.1 in.
Doors: 5
Wheelbase: 110.8 in.
Payload: 2118.6-2195.8 lbs.
Towing: 2000
Fuel tank capacity: 15.8 gal.
MPG up to 24/30
Weight: 3706-3728 lbs.
Height: 63.5 in.
Small SUV 4-wd
Wheels: 17x7J aluminum Alloy-inc Gray metallic finish
Options include Mazda nav system, Active Driving display, Traffic sign recognition, Frameless auto driving rear view mirror/homelink, Wireless phone charger

ABS · Air conditioning · Android Auto compatible · Apple CarPlay compatible · Apps control · Auto-dimming rear view mirror · Automatic high beams · Blind spot warning sensor · Bluetooth music streaming · Bluetooth phone connection · Brake assist · Cargo area light · Center console storage · Coming home device · Compass display · Day Time Running Lights · Digital radio · Dusk sensing headlights · Electronic brake distribution · Electronic parking brake · Electronic traction control · External temperature display · Front fog lights · Front sunroof · Garage door opener · Heated rear seats · Heated steering wheel · Lane departure warning · LATCH system · Low tire pressure warning · Memorized adjustment · Multi-function steering wheel · Navigation includes traffic info · Navigation system · Overhead console storage · Pedestrian avoidance system · Power adjustable steering wheel · Power door locks · Rain sensing windshield wipers · Remote trunk/hatch release · Roof spoiler · Satellite radio · Smart key · Spare/Temporary Tire · Speech text messaging · Subwoofer · Surround sound · Telematics · Trip computer · Voice activation · Wifi network · Wiper de-icer · Wireless charging pad
Radio: AM/FM Audio System -inc: 8-speakers, 8.8″ full-color center display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, audio menu voice-command, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio capability, MAZDA CONNECT infortainment system w/in-vehicle Wi-Fi, vehicle finder/send to car/map online update, infotainment system voice command, radio broadcast data system program information, Pandora, multi-function commander control and 2 USB audio inputs