Review: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: March 15, 2023


A brand new nameplate in the Mazda portfolio, the CX-50 is a compact crossover that rides on the same platform as the smaller CX-30, and is poised to take on the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4. But wait? Isn’t that what the CX-5 is for? You are correct - there’s a bit of overlap in the stable. While technically not a successor, the CX-50 is actually larger and more spacious, whereas the CX-5 sits on an older platform. The CX-50 is more expensive as well, ringing in at least $5,000 upstream. That extra zero at the end of the badge doesn’t come free afterall.



While the CX-30 and CX-5 failed to impress us with their odd exterior proportions and meager ride quality, the new CX-50 is exactly the Mazda we have always wanted: a rugged, spacious, and agile road companion with enough interior space to adequately seat five adults. Add to that the new Meridian Edition with Apex Package, and the CX-50 appears ready to tackle the outdoors, mirroring what Toyota does with the RAV4 TRD Pro. There will also be a hybrid version coming out soon to rival the RAV4 Hybrid and CR-V Hybrid.



The CX-50 carries very human-looking attributes, and can be a little unnerving at first glance. The headlights resemble human eyes, and staring too deeply into them will have you thinking its a sentient being. The muscular silhouette is equally sleek and purposeful, and we love how much more macho it is compared to the somewhat thin and skipped-leg-day CX-30.

The top-trim Meridian Editon throws in black alloy wheels, hood graphics, 18-inch Falken all-terrain tires, and darkened elements for the side rockers and headlight surround. Only two paint colours are available for it, Zircon Sand and Polymetal Grey, while the lower trims come with a more expansive palette. The optional Apex Package ($1,400) takes it one step further by adding a roof rack and front and rear splash guards.



As with all modern Mazdas, it’s the interior that continues to blow us away. The material quality is excellent, all touchpoints are nicely appointed, the leather dashboard is a beautiful addition, and the steering wheel is wrapped in some of the softest leather available. Every knob and dial is either metallic to the touch or a premium plastic, and each button offers that satisfying ‘clicky’ resistance, and wouldn’t feel out of place in a BMW or Mercedes. At this $40-50,000 price point, the CX-50 really does feel more upscale than its competitors. If Uniqlo or Muji designed a car interior, it would probably look something like this. Add to that the supportive seats and superb outward visibility, and we truly have no faults with the CX-50 cabin.



The CX-50 is jam-packed with features like wireless phone charging, a 360-degree view camera, and a heated steering wheel, but many of them are only found on the top Meridian Edition trim. Shame that the center display is somewhat diminutive as well compared to the RAV4 and CR-V, but the rotary dial works well to control the interface, and sports a relatively low learning curve.



The CX-50 comes in three trim variants: GS-L ($38,250), GT ($43,200), and Meridian Edition ($48,200). The GS-L receives a 187-hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that is equipped with cylinder deactivation, while the other trims get the same engine but turbocharged up to 227 hp and 310 lb-ft. It also drops cylinder deactivation and replaces it with a start/stop feature that Mazda calls i-stop. Mazda does note that if you put in 93-octane fuel, those outputs will be ramped up to 256 hp and 320 lb-ft instead, but we don’t think many owners will be spending an extra $10 per fill up just to squeeze out those extra horses, especially with vehicles at this price point. Still good to know. But no matter the powertrain, the CX-50 is mated to a 6-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.



We tested the turbo engine, and while it’s not the punchiest four-cylinder on the market, it’s polished and fun to wring out. The 6-speed is also a more engaging companion than the CVTs that its rivals use. Acceleration is decent in the mid-range when the boost picks up, and doesn’t run out of breath too quickly when it hits triple digit speeds. We achieved a yield of 12.3 L/100km with a heavier mix of city driving, meaning it’s not as efficient as we had hoped, but we can probably attribute at least 1.0 L/100km to the inefficient aerodynamics of the roof rack. On the plus side, we did not notice any excessive wind noise caused by the roof rack when travelling at speeds under 100 km/h. Above that and you will start to hear some turbulence.



The steering lacks life and connection and requires quite a bit of effort to rotate the wheel at low speeds, but it’s accurate and easy to place the front wheels where you want them. Heavy doesn’t always equate to better steering feel, but the stiff chassis makes up for it with a grounded and stable ride, and an agile front end. It neutralizes small and large impacts well, even on these optional all-terrain tires, and exhibit an exorbitant amount of grip in heavy snow conditions. Though it favours understeering, it feels safer and more predictable as a result.



The Mazda CX-50 is a welcome addition to the compact crossover segment, boasting rugged looks, an ample amount of creature comforts, and one of the most upscale interiors in its class. The turbo engine is an engaging companion and we wholeheartedly recommend it over the base engine if you like a bit of zest to your drive. And while we don’t expect it to outsell the popular RAV4 and CR-V, we think it genuinely deserves a spot on the shortlist.


Photo Gallery:









Model: 2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition with Apex Package

Paint Type: Polymetal Grey
Base Price: $48,200

Price as Tested: $49,850
Wheelbase(mm): 2,815
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,720 / 1,920 / 1,623

Curb weight (kg): 1,777
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 256 hp @ 5,000 rpm (with 93-octane) - 227 hp (87-octane)
Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm (with 93-octane) - 310 lb-ft (87-octane)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD

Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 10.4 / 8.1
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.3

Tires: 225/60R18





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