When it comes to crafting engaging, driver-focused vehicles, Mazda has always been a strong contender. As many of you know, I was a Mazda CX-5 owner for many years and can personally attest to how solid and trouble-free these cars are. In fact, when my little bro was looking for a new car, I steered him right over the Mazda3 (which he loves, by the way).
Mazda recently loaned me one of their newer vehicles, the Mazda CX-50, to test drive for the week. And it was… well, kinda weird. There were a lot of quirky things about the CX-50 which I highlight in my video review, but the biggest question is where this fits into their SUV lineup.
Here’s a quick comparison of two of their SUV offerings: the brand-new 2023 Mazda CX-50 and the tried-and-true CX-5. Each brings its unique flavor to the table, but how do they compare? Let’s dig into the specifics.
Mazda CX-50 Video Review
Let’s start with a detailed look at the Mazda CX-50 including what I loved and what had my head scratching.
Styling and Design
Starting with appearances, both vehicles bear Mazda’s “Kodo” design language. Mazda has been rapidly advancing into the luxury vehicle space, at least in terms of design. The CX-50, however, takes on a slightly more adventurous edge with rugged styling cues such as black wheel arches and a chunkier grille, aiming to appeal to the outdoor-oriented crowd.
The CX-5 retains a more refined, clean look that leans towards sophistication, with smoother lines and a less aggressive front end. This design makes it a perfect choice for someone seeking a more traditional yet upscale crossover aesthetic.
From my perspective, it feels very much like a mom vs dad car. Dad would be drawn more toward to muscular CX-50 while Mom would probably like to soft comfort of the CX-5.
Performance and Off-road Capability
Under the hood, both the CX-50 and the CX-5 share similar engines. You have a choice between a 2.5L naturally aspirated engine or a 2.5L turbo, but it’s in their driving dynamics where they begin to diverge. (When given the choice, GO TURBO!).
The CX-50 introduces Mazda’s new “i-Activ” all-wheel drive system with enhanced off-road capabilities, designed to tackle rougher terrains. Paired with its increased ground clearance, the CX-50 edges out the CX-5 when it comes to outdoor adventuring.
In contrast, the CX-5 excels in delivering a comfortable, well-damped ride quality suited for city and highway driving. While it might not boast the same off-road credentials as the CX-50, it’s no slouch and provides a balanced, engaging driving experience.
Interior Comfort and Tech
Inside, both SUVs share a lot in common. Each features a well-appointed cabin with quality materials, Mazda’s infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a host of driver-assist features. However, the 2023 CX-50 incorporates the latest version of Mazda’s infotainment system, promising a more intuitive user experience.
While I’ve always been a fan of Mazda’s infotainment, I’m not sure I felt the differences here.
While the CX-5 offers ample interior space, the CX-50 provides slightly more room due to its extended length. This gives passengers a bit more legroom and increases the cargo space, making it a potentially better choice for those who frequently carry large items or travel with a full load of passengers.
Oddly enough, even though the CX-50 is longer and wider, it feels smaller on the interior.
Final Thoughts on the CX-50 vs the CX-5
Deciding between the 2023 Mazda CX-50 and the CX-5 comes down to understanding your needs and lifestyle. If you frequently venture off the beaten path and crave for a touch of rugged style, the CX-50 is your go-to. But if your drives typically involve city streets and highways, and you value a refined, balanced driving experience, the CX-5 remains a stellar choice.
Remember, whichever Mazda you choose, you’re investing in a brand known for blending performance, style, and comfort in a unique package. You can’t go wrong either way!