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2023 Mazda CX-50: Go on an adventure

Special Collaboration, Marc Bouchard, Automotive Journalist

Mazda SUVs are real urban cars, and no one doubts that. Mazda wants to push things a little further, though, and offer motorists a more adventurous option. That’s exactly the mission and personality of the all-new Mazda CX-50, which has just arrived at dealerships.

Let’s solve this right away: The CX-50 joins other members of the Mazda family. No doubt, at least for now (I admit to some long-term skepticism) to replace the CX-5 with this newcomer.

It was shown that the CX-5 has a more refined and sophisticated side, while the CX-50 looks like a group athlete. This is not entirely wrong, when we look, for example, at the slightly modified front part, at the plastic covers that protect the wheel arches, or at the dimensions of the car itself. Because if the length of the two SUVs is about the same, the CX-50 is aerodynamic, lower and wider than its brother.

The idea is to offer an SUV that’s improved off-road capability, but one that can particularly appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, a growing breed. So we’re betting on a passenger cabin similar to that of the CX-30, but on better-thought-out cargo space.

It’s actually built to length, allowing in particular to skate, hockey or kayak (although they can’t be oversized). The threshold is also lowered, making it easier to use the entire space without having to pollute yourself to slide to the bottom.

more refined cabin

Since Mazda has been offering for a few years, the interiors of these vehicles are much more successful. Better quality materials, a bigger screen, flawless assembly, and even the multimedia system continues to be controlled by a wheel in the middle to avoid taking your eyes off the road. It’s not necessarily faster (I’m not a huge fan of the Mazda system), but it’s efficient and simple.

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The seats provide good support, even in the most dynamic driving, and the clearance, without excessive, is well suited for adults. The list of extensions is long, even in the basic versions. In short, there is not much to be said about this novelty.

Another novelty is the standard presence of a panoramic roof that literally illuminates the passenger compartment. We should have thought about it before, we appreciate it so much!

Question about engines, we’re not reinventing the wheel: These two, 4 cylinders with 187 hp and a turbo version with 256 hp (if you’re using ultra gasoline), equal what’s found throughout the range, all paired to an automatic transmission. Good news, because these engines have proven responsive and reliable, without being an amateur in terms of consumption.

Integrated and smart

The Mazda CX-50’s true discovery is MI-Drive, an intelligent, responsive driving mode management system. In Sport mode, while the display turns red in the cabin, a change in engine speed is felt, and throttle reactions are sharper. Even the transmission reacts abruptly.

New is the off-road mode. Don’t look here to lay mud, gravel or deep snow. Mazda chose to select one mode, increasing performance. The idea is that we want minimal driver involvement. The whole thing proved to be effective on muddy tracks. The good news is that this system does not erase Mazda’s driving character. Which, let’s remember, is one of the main reasons for buying a Mazda.

A towing mode is also offered, which is activated as soon as a trailer is attached to the vehicle. Testing, done with a 3,200-pound trailer, quickly showed the package’s limits, even if Mazda told us the limit was 3,500 pounds (only on the turbo. Regular versions are limited to 2,000 pounds). Suppose that if work is done, it will not be necessary to add extra baggage in the trailer to go beyond the safe limits.

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So is the Mazda 2023 CX-50 worth driving? No doubt. Despite its tougher suspension (and perhaps that much stiffer when Meridian shows up, with 20-inch tires), I definitely preferred it over the CX-5. But this is a matter of taste.