2024 Mazda CX-50 Proves That A Rugged Look Always Works

By June 13, 2024Mazda
2024 Mazda CX-50

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 is what happens when a carmaker realizes that one of its popular models is losing steam. In this case, I’m talking about the Mazda CX-5, an SUV I personally adore, but that’s getting a bit old and slowly being eaten alive by its ferocious competition. Mazda, then, reacts by doing what any good carmaker would do: it adds body cladding and a more rugged look to its breadwinner model, fiddles with its name and calls it a day. But is the CX-50 really any different than the CX-5 on which it’s based, or is just some marketing ploy to keep customers inside a Mazda showroom?

2024 Mazda CX-50 Review: What If A CX-5 And A Subaru Outback Had A Child?

2024 Mazda CX-50Let’s begin with the way this thing looks. I quite like what I’m looking at here as the 2024 Mazda CX-50 looks basically like a CX-5 that has spent a bit too much time at the gym and drinking creatine shakes in the morning. It looks more muscular, meaner and more purposeful, because, you know, it’s an adventure vehicle now. It’s what would have happened if the CX-5 and the Subaru Outback had a baby.2024 Mazda CX-50But there’s a lot more going on here than a fancy stripe on the hood (as tested) and a slick desert camo paint job. From a dimensional standpoint, the CX-50 is 1.4 inches lower, a full three inches wider and 5.7 inches longer than the CX-5 on which it’s based. It also rides on a wheelbase that was stretched by 4.6 inches.2024 Mazda CX-50This therefore gives it somewhat wagon-like proportions, similar but not identical to the Outback and, more recently, the Toyota Crown Signia.2024 Mazda CX-50The sole engine choice is, unsurprisingly, identical to a CX-5 and basically everything else that Mazda sells these days. It’s the tried and proven 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that requires 93 octane fuel to develop its claimed output of 256 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive technology, which is sort of a neat cross between a predictive and a reactive system.2024 Mazda CX-50Here in Canada, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 kicks off at $39,300 for a base GS-L. There’s then the GT, the most popular trim level Mazda sells here which costs $44,250. The one I was driving, of course, was a top-of-the-line Meridian model. That one will set you back $49,250. That hood livery is part of the $1,400 Apex package, which normally also includes a roof platform which wasn’t installed on my tester.

There’s A Mazda3 Somewhere Inside

2024 Mazda CX-50Mazdas are generally fun, dynamic and well-handling vehicles, but for some odd reason, the CX-50 doesn’t quite match that tradition. Then again, due to its outdoorsy vibes, it was never truly meant for canyon carving, but rather help transport a pair of mountain bikers up a mountain for some good-old downhill sessions.The main problem with this thing is that you feel that its platform was stretched and fiddled with. The CX-50 feels long, heavy and exhibits quite a bit of body roll when thrown hard into a corner. But at the same time, there’s a solid core, this desire to do more, but that’s sadly overlapped by a thick layer of fat. In many ways, this feels like an overweight Mazda3. When you stop to think about it, that’s basically what a CX-50 is.There are, however, some neat qualities in the way this crossover drives. The steering is light, precise and well weighted. Its skinny nature also felt fantastic in my hands, and the entire thing drives smooth, exhibiting a pleasant sense of maturity and refinement.That turbocharged mill also remains a wonderful piece of internal combustion. It’s a torque monster, this, activating most of its twist as low as 2,500 RPM. It allows this 3,800-pound, go-anywhere apparatus to pick itself up and go in a jiffy.And while six gears is definitely prehistoric in this age of 10-speeds and dual-clutch units, this remains one of the best automatic transmissions currently on sale. I’d know, because it’s essentially the same one as in my own 2015 Mazda6. It shifts fast and knows what your next move is as if it were employing telepathy. Mazda’s target in recent years of leaning its products towards the premium category is really beginning to shine through. The CX-50, while aimed out the types of people who would prefer being covered in mud rather than wearing a pair of shiny white Pumas, is all rather posh inside, especially in this Meridian model.Build quality is great, materials are amazing and seat support is up there among the best that Germany will sell you these days, although I’m not convinced this is what outdoorsy type of individuals actually want. Mazda should take a lesson out of Subaru’s Wilderness playbook.What I do like, though, is how this dashboard design is unique to the CX-50. There’s a clean, uncluttered horizontal space dead center that connects to two very blocky vertical air vents. Brown stitching, to mimic the brown leather seats, crosses the dashboard and door cards, while Mazda’s infotainment system elegantly protrudes from the top of the dashboard. It’s all rather well presented.There’s a nice blend of old and new in the CX-50, like the analog gauges that also employ digital readouts for more detailed information like fuel economy. Climate control settings are all physical, the way they should be, and Mazda still offers you the possibility to select a gear with a shifter instead of buttons or paddles (although paddle shifters are also available).Mazda’s latest infotainment interface is a mixed bag for me. I like that you manipulate it through a central knob dial like you would in a BMW, but once you activate Android Auto (in my case), it suddenly makes more sense to use its touch controls. There’s an ergonomic inconsistency here that rapidly gets annoying.And while elegant and relatively easy to operate, the interface is slow to react at times. It also requires you to dig into some menus to remove some crucial features like adaptive cruise control. Since it doesn’t’ remember your preferred settings,  you’ll need to go back into it each time you turn the car back on.Rear seat room in a CX-50 is ample thanks mostly to its stretched wheelbase. Tall passengers will therefore have no problem squeezing their legs behind a front seat that’s also been adjusted for a tall person. Headroom is fine, but tall people could feel their head rubbing the ceiling due to the way Mazda designed this thing.Finally, total cargo space in a CX-50 (when the rear seats are lowered flat) remains on the small side, even with Mazda’s attempts at making it larger than a CX-5. For reference, it’ll engulf up to 1,594 liters of your gear. That’s seriously behind its main competitor, the Subaru Outback with its 2,140 liters of maximum cargo space.If you’re arriving at the end of this review wondering what the CX-50 does different than a CX-5, that’s precisely the point. It does nothing more rather than make its owner believe that it can bring them to places no other SUV has gone before. It’s this idea of off-roading that Mazda is capitalizing on with the CX-50. Should we blame for trying? If it helps get more people into their showrooms, then so be it. But if you want my honest opinion, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 is nothing more than a CX-5 wearing a North Face jacket.

Clavey's Verdict

Review of the 2024 Mazda CX-50 Meridian by William Clavey
Midsize Crossovers

  • Interesting looks.
  • Put together like an Audi.
  • Great engine and transmission combination.
  • What can it do that a CX-5 can’t?
  • Smallish cargo hold.
  • Requires 93 octane fuel to unlock its full output.

7.5 / 10

Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.

Special thanks: Mazda Canada

Photography: Guillaume Fournier

Contact the author: [email protected]

William Clavey

About William Clavey

Automotive Journalist from Canada. Active collaborator at mainstream media outlets across Canada.

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