By Cars.com EditorsMay 23, 2023
The Mazda CX-50 is an all new for 2023 Compact SUV and we recently tested it as part of a multi-vehicle comparison. Here's what we thought. Let's start with the biggest win, the powertrain. It's a great powertrain.
It feels great, it's strong, it sounds great. It really gives this vehicle a sporty feel. <v Brian>Absolutely, the handling is Mazda signature great, steering feel is fantastic. This was the most fun to drive once we got up into the canyons, but there's a penalty for that. It was the least fun to drive around town. <v Damon>20 inch wheels, sporty suspension tuning take a toll on everyday ride quality. And this was the stiffest rider of the group. <v Brian>Absolutely, I thought it was just brutal. You hit a pothole in this and you feel it. (Damon groans) But one thing that does feel nice, just to transition back to that is the interior. The interior quality is fantastic. The materials are just great. Everything feels nice and premium. Mazda is trying to be more of a premium brand and I think they really nail it here. <v Damon>Absolutely, leather upholstery, nice stitching. It really is in keeping with their aspirations to take the brand upscale. Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this interior. Let's start with the biggest, this central display. I don't even think we can really call it a touchscreen. <v Damon>No, it's simply behind the times. There's touchscreen functionality in limited situations but it's almost a moot point because the screen itself is so far away that it's an uncomfortable reach so that means you're stuck using a console mounted knob and it's just not up to snuff with the rest of the class. It's absolutely distracting, I would much rather have a reachable touchscreen given the choice. Also because of its sporty nature, you get a couple penalties both to visibility and interior room. The front windshield is super raked, very low roof line. The back windscreen is also very small and the headrest get in the way. It's hard to see out of, it's also not very roomy. <v Damon>Yeah, I fit okay in the front seat, but the back seat room is kind of a deal breaker for me 'cause I just don't fit, my head hits the headliner, I don't have enough leg room. Smaller adults will probably be okay, but this is at the back of the pack in terms of rear seat space. And it's not just for adults. It got the lowest car seat score in the test. Overall, we do really like to drive this. This has the looks of a sports car, wouldn't you say? <v Damon>Oh, it's lovely. The low stance, the bold shelf fenders. If you can call a compact SUV sexy, I would call this sexy. Yeah, this is a great driving vehicle. If that's what you're looking for in a compact SUV, have at it, this is a fantastic choice. But if you're not, if you're looking for a more practical family-oriented vehicle, this is probably not for you. <v Damon>If you'd like to read more and see how it did in a comparison test with other compact SUVs, you can find it all on cars.com.