Road Test: 2023 Mazda CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is an interesting new entry from the automaker into the crossover segment. Unlike some of its other models, this one is designed to be a little more rugged, both in how it looks and how it drives.

Our tester for the week takes that even further. The CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package is the top trim in the model’s lineup and it has a unique set of features to make it stand out.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

That starts with 18-inch black alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, black wheel locks and lug nuts, and side rocker garnish, a new headlamp finish and a unique branding on the hood. The Apex Package includes roof-mounted crossbars, a roof platform, and front and rear splash guards.

As tested, the CX-50 will cost $51,200 with freight included, but you are getting a fully-equipped vehicle for that price with no need for any additions.

Powertrain: The CX-50 has the same engine found on some of the other Mazda crossovers, but with some additional tuning for additional power.

The 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder comes naturally aspirated with cylinder deactivation, or with a twin scroll turbo found in our tester.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

With the turbo, engine output is 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque when you fill the 60-litre tank with premium fuel. Opting for regular does lower the power output a little.

Either engine is paired to a six-speed automatic, and while you may think those six gears are outdated compared to other gearboxes in the market, it works really well.

During my week with the CX-50, I failed to come close to the estimated fuel efficiency numbers, returning 13.4 litres per 100 kilometres compared to the 9.4 L/100 km listed.

Exterior: I have appreciated the Mazda design language over the last number of years, and the CX-50 takes that styling and adds some ruggedness.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

The first thing I noticed are the pronounced haunches over the front and rear wheel wells, giving off a clear signal that this crossover is meant for more than city cruising.

The front end is a very typical Mazda look, and there’s an abundance of black cladding around the wheels and door bottoms for protection should you go off-road.

The Polymetal Great Metallic is a very nice colour for the exterior, and the Meridian Edition graphics on the hood is a cool feature.

The two-tone black/silver wheels are a nice touch to finish off the exterior.

The roof platform, well, that I am not sold on having – at least not permanently attached to the top of the vehicle. Mazda says it is designed to support rooftop tents, but also allows more loading options to increase the CX-50’s versatility.

Interior: Let me get the bad out of the way right away. While the front seats look fantastic, I found them to not be very comfortable. Especially the positioning of an accent piece and stitching up the middle of the seat cushion. It’s a real pain in the butt!

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

That being said, I actually really like the cabin of the CX-50.

The Terracotta coloured leather seating and trim pieces gives it a rather upscale and luxurious feel to it.

The orange stitching throughout, including in the dash, is another nice touch.

Overall, the layout and design of the cabin is very well thought out and the quality of materials are excellent.

Rear passengers have a good amount of leg and headroom, while the cargo space on the CX-50 is quite generous.

Infotainment: The CX-50 has a few extra tricks up its sleeve when it comes to the infotainment system when compared to other recent models tested.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

For starters, it comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless device charging.

And the 10.25-inch display has touchscreen capability – but only when using the Apple CarPlay function during our test.

The Meridian Edition comes with a 12-speaker premium Bose sound system, featuring Bose Centerpoint 2 Surround Technology with noise compensation technology.

The interface for everything other than with the CarPlay (and presumably Android Auto) remains through the dial on the centre console, which did get more intuitive after my third straight week of testing various Mazda models.

Drive: While I didn’t get to test the CX-50 in any off-road conditions, I did put the all-wheel drive system to the test while driving a fairly long distance in challenging conditions. Even with the roads heavily covered in snow, the CX-50 always kept straight and true, with the AWD system ensuring optimal traction at all times.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

You can adjust the drive settings of the CX-50 through the MI-Drive switch in the centre console to match the driving dynamics to road conditions . The settings are Normal, Sport and Off-Road.

I was quite pleased with the overall feel and performance of the CX-50, delivering what I have come to expect from Mazda: A solid, well put together package that handles well, excellent steering feel and a good amount of fun quotient when behind the wheel.

Conclusion: It was an enjoyable week behind the wheel of the CX-50. I found it to be a rather handsome design, and the Meridian Edition add-ons definitely give it a more unique flavour.

And with a very elegant cabin – uncomfortable seat trim aside – this is a very nicely packaged crossover from Mazda.

With the addition of the CX-90, the Japanese automaker now has six crossover/SUV models it its lineup. While that might seem like overkill, they all seem to fulfill a distinct role. The CX-50 is the one you want if you plan to be a weekend warrior and head out of the city for adventure.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package
Price as tested: $49,250.00
Freight: $1,950.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre turbo 4-cylinder/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 256 horsepower/ 320 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular or Premium (60 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.4 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/unlimited km (basic)
Competitors: Ford Bronco Sport, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Toyota Rav4

Links: Mazda Canada

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