After the confusing launch of, but also riding high on its continued success , Mazda has just unveiled the latest member of its growing family of SUVs. Meet the new 2022 Mazda CX-50 with a focus on off-road performance that feels like a shot over the Subaru’s bow.
The CX-50 is visually and presumably physically taller than the CX-5 – Mazda has not yet released detailed specifications and dimensions. Mazda tells us that the CX-50’s low roofline and wide-open rear door provide easy access to the roof racks despite the increased ground clearance.
In front, you’ll find a darkened version of the carmaker’s wing-shaped grille and headlight combination that helps visually expand the SUV’s stance. Not that it needs much optical trick: the CX-50 riffs in Mazda’s design language with wider, more square shoulders and screen fades to accommodate its wider tracks. And, of course, because this is an off-road-focused vehicle, there is black plastic cladding that protects the wheel arches and lower body.
At launch, the CX-50 will be offered with both natural intake and turbocharged versions of the carmaker’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission and standard four-wheel drive. After launch, electrified powertrains will join the series, including a traditional hybrid model, but details regarding specifications and timing of this configuration have not yet been announced.
Mazda’s approach to the performance of the CX-50 is, in typical Mazda fashion, a little different from the rest. The automaker tells us that in their research on how motorists use off-road-focused SUVs, they learned that the majority of driving still takes place on paved roads before you reach the dirt. So it was meant to deliver a ride built around the amazing road driving dynamics we’ve seen in the rest of its roadsters, hatchbacks and SUVs – no, not you, the MX-30 – with a bit of extra capacity to driving.
The SUV has four Mazda Intelligent Drive Select, or MI-Drive, modes that adjust performance to different conditions: normal, sport, towing and off-road modes. Note that there is only one off-road mode instead of individual settings for gravel, sand, mud, etc.
“If you’re off the sidewalk, off-road mode is what you want,” says Dave Coleman, vehicle development engineer at Mazda R&D. “It’s that simple.”
“While [multiple off-road modes] seems exciting in the showroom, we found it confusing off-road, “Coleman continues.” The real conditions are always an ambiguous combination of surfaces that land somewhere between the settings you choose from. We are convinced that the most intelligent system in the vehicle is the driver. ”
Inside, you’ll find a driver-oriented cockpit in line with what we’ve come to expect from Mazda vehicles. Even the ventilation openings are arranged symmetrically around the steering wheel, perfectly directed towards the driver. The cabin can also be fitted with a new Terracotta interior motif inspired by modern outdoor equipment. The CX-50 also marks the debut of Mazda’s first panoramic moon roof.
The all-new Mazda CX-50 will begin production next year at the new Mazda Toyota plant in Huntsville, Alabama, in January 2022, and will arrive at dealers later this year.