Built for America: Stylish and Capable, the New 2022 Mazda CX-50 First Drive

Mazda Cx 50 Featured Image

This is a welcome addition to the evolution of Mazda.

Off-road capable, fluidly designed, inspired by Mother Nature and equipped with the chops to pull whatever adventure toy you can gather (up to 3500 pounds), the 2022 Mazda CX-50, an entirely new model from the Japanese carmaker with a thoroughly loyal customer base in North America. To deliver what Americans and Canadians need, the CX-50, priced from $26,800 to $41,550, is slightly larger and lower to the ground than the Mazda Cx-5, offering an inviting addition to the crossover/SUV space.

Rather than marking a departure from the sophisticated minimalism that Mazda is known for, the CX-50 delivers more, giving the sense that Mazda is putting down roots in American culture with a beautiful fusion of active life-proof styling combined with the elegant efficiency that Mazda buyers adore.  

Related: Mazda’s All-New 2022 CX-50 Is Built for Outdoor Enthusiasts and On-Road Drivers Alike

While It'S Larger Than Its Cx-5 Sibling, The Mazda Cx-50 Doesn'T Look Oversized Photo Teia Collier

While it’s larger than its CX-5 sibling, the Mazda CX-50 doesn’t look oversized. Photo: Teia Collier

Life at the Intersection of Beauty and Function

Walk around the Mazda CX-50. 

Take in the lower roof line, wider wheels and the sculpted seams that draw the eye around the doors, across the hood to the grille and ultimately to the Mazda logo. It feels smart and clean but hints at rugged and expensive with an embodied sense of laid back luxury.  

Related: A Torque Story Part Deux: The Mazda CX-30 Turbo SUV Is Designed to Make Your Soul Soar

The Whipstich Detail Unifies The Interior And Lends An Elegant Touch

The whipstich detail unifies the interior and lends an elegant touch. Photo: Teia Collier

The Minimalist Edit Mazda is Known For

Then open the driver’s door. 

The action is almost silent, leaving you in peace to absorb the interior.  In classic Mazda styling, the interior is a minimalist’s dream, accented by a single row of whipstitching across the dash and around the steering wheel, the same shade as the seating, that bisects the vehicle and carries the eye around the cockpit. The cockpit is elegantly simple and focused on the driver, uncluttered with unnecessary dials, knobs or buttons. 

Related: The 2021 Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD: A Compact SUV For all of Life’s In-Between Moments

The View From The Driver'S Seat

The view from the driver’s seat. Photo: Teia Collier

Elegance, No Matter the Trim You choose

Then settle into the driver’s seat. 

Buyers can choose leather-inspired upholstery or leather (though the entry level model comes with cloth seating), all with a blend of pebbled and smooth textures, depending on the amount of use the space will receive. The frequently used spaces, like the steering wheel and gear shift are finished with pebbled texture.

Then, thoughtful details began to show themselves. The ease of a push button start. Heated and cooled seats to create comfort regardless of the weather. Alerts in the driver dash and in the head up display. The air-conditioning system has a pollen filter to improve air quality and the vents are placed along the sides for rear passengers so that the cooling of the vehicle is even and direct. 

I noticed that the center arm rest is a pebbled leatherette cargo console to store goodies, and it has a dedicated rest with wireless charging technology. Your phone is within easy reach of your hand, but not in direct view to eliminate distractions.

Mazda has for the first time added a touch-capable media screen, though only Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are touch-capable. You’ll need to use the CX-50’s commander dial for any other functions like built in navigation or the radio. This is because the screen, which is about 10 inches wide, is fairly set back from the driver to allow for the driver’s eyes to easily shift between the road and the screen without having to greatly refocus.

But don’t get caught up all the technology at your fingertips; glance around the interior.  

The Center Console With The Command, Still A Necessary Function Despite The Touch Screen

The center console with the command, still a necessary function despite the touch screen. Photo: Teia Collier

There’s Room For Everyone to Relax

With a slightly larger interior, the easy seating for 4 (or 5 in a pinch) offers lots of space for long legs, plenty of cup holders in door packets or the foldable center console, which has space for water bottles and USB charging ports, so all are in easy reach of all passengers.

Passengers who look up will see the first panoramic moonroof for the Mazda family. It is expansive and lets light and nature in and yet still keeps you protected from the elements. And when gear or cargo take precedence, the rear seats fold flat making space for everything your lifestyle demands.     

The Mazda Badge And Grille Are Not Just Sharp, They Camoflauge The Car'S Tech Sensors

The Mazda Badge and Grille are not just sharp, they camoflauge the car’s tech sensors. Photo: Teia Collier

Capability (and All Wheel Drive) Comes Standard

Looks can be deceiving, but the CX-50 is fully capable of handling life, regardless of whether or not the road ahead is easy. Product Engineer Dave Coleman says that the CX-50 was designed to “create confidence that the car will do what it is supposed to do and that the driver can focus on the road… not worry about the car.” 

And it does just that, with three drive modes (Normal, Sport and Off-Road) designed to take give the driver command of the vehicle for a consistently smooth or and exhilarating drive. Dave notes that the Mazda  CX-50 drive “shouldn’t feel different;” it should simply perform beautifully, regardless of whether you are towing a 3,500 pound trailer or exploring wine country in pursuit of your next favorite Pinot. 

To achieve this, team at Mazda took the very best of technology from some of the most performance-focused vehicles on the planet including the Porsche 997 and Subaru BRZ and applied it to this vehicle, giving it design and engineering specs for modern American life, which can often be as much indoors as out. I could see that evidenced in the way that the CX-50 responds and provides feedback, either through camera views or by tightening up suspension, as we took the curves on our drive or crawled up hills. It’s as well suited for your grocery store errands as it is for wandering into the wilderness for a weekend getaway.  Add that to the Mazda Safety Suite that includes blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and rear cross traffic alert, the CX-50 is a partner in every journey.

You'Ll Get A Notice In The Driver'S Information Screen When Towing

You’ll get a notice in the driver’s information screen when towing. Photo: Teia Collier

Purpose-Built for North American Buyers

To allow US buyers the CX-50 of their choice, it’s available in 9 trims, 7 colors, 4 interiors and two power train options. Built in Mazda’s newest assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama, a facility that is shared with Toyota, the options allow buyers can get the car they want. With a starting price of $26,800, the entry model has 187 horsepower and 186 torque and comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and adaptive cruise control.

There are 5 additional trims with the less powerful engine, but buyers who want to ramp up the power can choose one of the turbo models. Priced form $36,400 to $41,550, this line takes the power up to 256 horsepower and 320 torque (when using premium fuel; using regular will reduce the horsepower and torque slightly).

And not to be outdone, Mazda will introduce an even higher-end trim next year: Meridian will cater to those with a taste for luxury in their outdoor pursuits. Just to keep the evolution moving. 

Disclosure: I was Mazda’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

Getting Dirty Is Half The Fun (Washing The Car Is The Other Half, Of Course!)

Getting dirty is half the fun (washing the car is the other half, of course!). Photo: Teia Collier

Teia Collier is a mother of three, educator, social journalist, advocate for women’s and children’s issues and lover of... More about Teia Collier