Navigating the Great Outdoors in the 2024 Mazda CX-50

Nicely engineered with plenty of 'zoom-zoom' and standard AWD, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 stands out from the crossover crowd. It's a rugged ride with rewarding luxury.

Soul Red Crystal Metallic On The 2024 Mazda Cx-50 Is Hard To Photograph, But It Is Stunning In Person. Photo: Cameron Aubernon
Soul Red Crystal Metallic on the 2024 Mazda CX-50 is hard to photograph, but it is stunning in person. Photo Cameron Aubernon

A Winding Road Leads to History… And Fun

I have to confess. I’m a NASCAR fan. So, when I had the luck to be present as NASCAR Cup star (and future legend) Ross Chastain performed “a video game move” piloting his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 along the wall from Turn 3 to the checkered flag of the 2022 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway and landing a spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Championship, I knew it was a moment to celebrate. I was among the eyewitnesses the now-famous (and completely banned by NASCAR) “Hail Melon.” 

Any chance to catch a repeat performance, or anything nearly that spectacular, would be a must-attend. Thankfully when the next year’s race at Martinsville arrived, I was ready to make the trek in the 2024 CX-50, the top-tier 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus trim, in the automaker’s signature Soul Red Crystal Metallic. The 90-minute trek through the winding state roads to Ridgeway, Virginia would be a delightful trip.

Related: Mazda CX-5 vs. Mazda CX-30: Which is Right for Me?

The 2024 Mazda Cx-50 Is Made For Days Like This. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 is made for days like this. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Who is this Outdoorsy Crossover For?

While most automakers focus on building crossovers for the every day, Mazda builds theirs with a little more fun in mind. After all, the Japanese company is still all about that “zoom-zoom,” from the beloved classic MX-5 all the way to the all-new family crossover, the CX-90. The CX-50 is no exception, though those of you who are shopping the new compact crossover alongside the CX-5 (which Mazda is not replacing the CX-50, by the way) may wonder what that extra “0” in the name entails. So, here’s who the CX-50 is for:

  • Those who spend more time out in the great outdoors than the city center
  • That’s it!
You Can Fit All Of Your Camping Gear Back Here. It_S What The Cx-50_S Made For, After All - Cameron Aubernon

You can fit all of your camping gear back here. It’s what the CX-50’s made for, after all. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Built for All-Time Outdoor Adventures

Assembled in the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Plant in Huntsville, Alabama, alongside the Toyota Corolla Cross (though the two don’t share anything with each other; the CX-50 is based on the same platform underpinning the Mazda3 and CX-3), the CX-50 is positioned as Mazda’s outdoor adventurer.

To that end, the compact crossover was designed to haul all sorts of outdoor gear and equipment, including high-strength roof rails to carry kayaks, pop-up tents, bikes, and more; and a deeper cargo floor to fit all of your favorite coolers, packs, and gear. And to truly emphasize how much the CX-50 is for the great outdoors, all eight trim levels (four with naturally aspirated gas engines, four with turbocharged power) come in all-wheel drive only.

Related: Mazda Goes Electric with the MX-30 EV Crossover

On The Wings Of A Goodyear Eagle. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

On the wings of a Goodyear Eagle. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Heading Down to Martinsville on the Wings of a (Goodyear) Eagle

There are a handful of ways to reach Martinsville Speedway from my home in Virginia’s New River Valley, the most direct of which is around 90 minutes through a handful of state roads leading to the grass-covered parking lots surrounding the track. These two-lane roads have more than a few slow-speed curves that demand all of your attention.

And you don’t want to take a turn too fast, especially if your car can’t handle it… like the time I rented a 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T to take down to Martinsville for the 25th anniversary of the Hot Rod Power Tour. We both survived the slide into a wet, muddy patch of grass, but I did need to find a car wash to get all the mud off the Challenger afterward.

Leaving-The-2024-Mazda Cx-50 In The Lot For The Day. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Leaving-the-2024-Mazda CX-50 in the lot for the day. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Twists and Turns are No Problem

Thankfully, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 was designed to handle those twists and turns, beginning with the company’s Mazda drive mode selections, or as Mazda calls it, Mi-Drive. The system presents different drive modes to handle most driving conditions with the proper response, from the base Normal setting for a balance of performance and fuel economy to Off-Road to make the most of the available torque and horsepower for maximum traction. The i-ACTIV AWD system adds its skills to the pile, bringing more “zoom-zoom” to any road.

Related: Stylish Sophistication: The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Premium Plus Review

Here'S Where The Zoom-Zoom-Zoom-Happens. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Here’s where the zoom-zoom happens. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Mazda Lets You Choose Turbo, or Not

And, of course, the centerpiece of the CX-50’s turbocharged powertrain is this: a 2.5-liter inline-four cylinder engine with a turbocharger capable of producing up to 256 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque – depending on the fuel in the tank.

If you’ve got the money, premium fuel will give you everything this engine has. If things are tight, though, the compact crossover will still thrill on regular gas, though it’ll only deliver 227 HP and 310 lb.-ft. of torque.

Either way, the EPA combined estimate is 25 mpg; I managed 22.5 mpg due to taking Mom to work and other errands in my small Virginia town. All of that power finds the road or trail through a set of 20-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear Eagle Touring all-season radials.

Physical Buttons And Wireless Apple Carplay And Android Auto Mean It'S 2024. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Physical buttons and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mean it’s 2024. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Taking in the Falling Leaves from Behind the CX-50’s Dashboard

The Mazda CX-50 has room for five, though, for this journey, it was just me. Still, I got to enjoy the ventilated front seats in black leather with contrasting stitching while listening to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on the way to Martinsville through the Bose 12-speaker audio system. The 10.25-inch color center display is controlled through a dial behind the shifter and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless charging. And, of course, the CX-50 is the first Mazda to offer a panoramic sunroof to bring you and yours closer to the outside world.

And though no camping would take place during my week with the CX-50, there’s plenty of room for all of your gear in the back. With a rear seat that splits 60/40, 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space awaits your coolers, camping stoves, and sleeping bags. With the seat down, there’s 56.3 cubic feet of space to accommodate fishing poles, bicycle parts, and more camping gear.

The Cx-50 Is The First Mazda To Come With A Panoramic Sunroof. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

The CX-50 is the first Mazda to come with a panoramic sunroof. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Safety Features Are Standard

The CX-50 features a full suite of standard driver aides, including pedestrian detection, lane departure assist, blind spot monitoring, plenty of airbags, and even a driver attention alert so you can trade driving duties or take a break after a good stint of passing under the falling leaves through the wooded curves of a beautiful Fall drive.

The Cupholders Are Big Enough To Hold My Yeti Nascar Tumbler Though Taller Mugs Won'T Work Here. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

The cupholders are big enough to hold my Yeti NASCAR tumbler though taller mugs won’t work here. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

What the 2024 Mazda CX-50 Costs:

  • The 2024 Mazda CX-50, as-tested in its top-tier 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus trim with heated rear seats, 360-degree view monitor, and traffic jam assist technology, comes out to $45,270
  • The base 2.5 S Select trim, which includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Mazda Radar Cruise Control with start-stop technology, begins at $30,300
  • The top-tier non-turbo model, the 2.5 S Premium Plus with 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels and leather seating with ventilated front seats, has a base MSRP of $37,500
  • The base Turbo model, the 2.5 Turbo with the SKYACTIV-G turbo-four and 3,500-pound towing capacity, starts at $38,000
  • Mazda’s signature Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint is a $595 option on the CX-50, as is Machine Gray Metallic
  • Accent Package, including illuminated door sill plates and side rocker garnish, is $550
  • Premium carpet floor mats with contrast stitching are $150
One-Day-The-Cx-50_S-Friends-In-The-Mx-5 Global Cup Will Be Back At Martinsville For A Race. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

One day the CX-50’s friends in the MX-5 Global Cup will be back at Martinsville for a race. Photo: Cameron Aubernon

Taking the Race in the Outdoorsiest Mazda Yet

Though my Mazda CX-50 didn’t do a lap around Martinsville Speedway like its IMSA MX-5 Global Cup cousin did earlier this year for a possible race in the future, the compact crossover did not disappoint on the trip to Virginia’s Southside. While there are crossovers out there that could’ve made the trip just as well, Mazda’s racing heritage makes the CX-50 stand out from the rest of the competition as far as handling and performance go. If you need some “zoom-zoom” in your everyday, plus the ability to get away into the wide open spaces, this is the crossover for you.

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Cameron Aubernon started her journey over a decade ago as an independent fashion blogger. Yet, they knew a bit... More about Cameron Aubernon