Mazda has announced that the 2023 CX-50 will debut on November 15th, foreshadowing its production launch in January of 2022 at the Alabama plant it shares with Toyota. That means odds are good that the model will share more than a few components with the Toyota Corolla Cross. But Mazda has been adamant that CX-50 is a unique vehicle riding on its very own platform.
Unique is a relative term, however, when the upcoming model represents another “lifestyle vehicle” designed to convince consumers that a jack-of-all-trades crossover is ready and willing to drag them up the side of a mountain. Officially, Mazda is claiming this one caters to adults with particularly active lifestyles and has surrounded it with nature-themed marketing materials. That presumably has something to do with the CX-50 boasting “enhanced all-wheel-drive capabilities.”
Of course, we cannot confirm or deny those improvements until someone has actually slogged one through a swap or battered it down a dry riverbed. We don’t even know what the CX-50 looks like yet and only have the most basic details of its mechanical makeup. Mazda has only been willing to confirm that the mid-sized crossover will use the same platform as the current Mazda3/CX-30 and feature all-wheel drive.
That had us assuming AWD would be optional. However numerous outlets( e.g. AutoBlog) have suggested the CX-50 would not replace the CX-5 due to the former having made all-wheel drive standard equipment. We remain dubious, particularly because the CX-5 already offers i-ACTIV AWD and would undoubtedly exist in the same space. But the older crossover is an exceptionally good one and highlights how Mazda has managed to transform mainstream vehicles into something that feels (and looks) like something a little more premium.
The teasers don’t show us much of the vehicle and what we can see has it hidden behind some distant, moss-covered trees. But it appears to be just as curvatons as the current CX-5 with a touch more ground clearance. It’s also shown driving exclusively on a dirt trail, which could be Mazda’s way of telling us something.
Perhaps the CX-50 really is taking a more off-road focused approach and the updated AWD system is there to seal the deal. If Subaru can sell Impreza wagons alongside the Crosstrek, then there’s a case to be made for Mazda to have a second mid-sizer with some newer tech and more off-road goodies. But we remain convinced that this is a risk and the brand will dump the CX-5 the second it appears unprofitable.
As for the CX-50’s hardware, we’re expecting a standard Skyactiv 2.5-liter and optional turbo 2.5-liter inline-four found in other Mazda products. That means output somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 horsepower, with turbo-equipped models being closer to 250 hp. While early speculation had the crossover getting an inline-six Mazda’s longitudinal platform isn’t expected to appear until the CX-70 and CX-90 arrive sometime in 2023.
Speaking of which, we don’t currently know whether the brand plans on offering the CX-50 as a 2022 model-year vehicle or MY 2023. We’ve heard both and, while it’s sort of trivial since the number doesn’t really matter to anyone but regulators, expect Mazda to clear things up on November 15th when the crossover debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
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