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Mazda CX-50 unveiled, what this means for CX-5

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Mazda officially revealed its first of three all-new SUVs, which will be launched by 2023. And the name? Well, Mazda is calling it the CX-50 — which is not to be confused with the popular CX-5. They are not the same vehicle and, in theory, should not attract the same customer.

“Mazda plans to sell both the CX-50 and CX-5,” said Tamara Mlynarczyk, manager of public affairs for Mazda North American Operations.

But we’re feeling some deja vu, here, because Mazda said the same thing about the CX-3 when it revealed the CX-30.  Now, the CX-3 is gone after the 2021 model year, so the two vehicles co-existed for just two model years.

So, what is the Mazda CX-50?

In a nutshell, the CX-50 is a midsize SUV that puts more emphasis on adventure and mild off-roading.

“The CX-5 is designed to meet the demand for driving in city area whereas the CX-50 is for people who want outdoor capability in their vehicles,” Mlynarczyk said. “In other words, each model has different target customers, so we think we can have them together in our lineup.”

While we haven’t seen the CX-50 in person, you can tell from the photos there’s extra cladding and even an (available?) anti-glare decal on the hood that we see in more off-roady kinds of vehicles.

“This new Mazda vehicle has been developed for North America, particularly to support the active and outdoor lifestyles of customers in this region,” Jeff Guyton, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations said. “The CX-50 encourages people to immerse themselves in nature without compromising on the premium design and outstanding on-road performance Mazda is known for.”

What we know about CX-50

Mazda hasn’t released too many details about the CX-50 just yet, so all we know for sure is some basic powertrain info. This new SUV will have two familiar engine options: the Skyactiv-G 2.5 naturally aspirated engine and Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo engine. These engines currently appear in the CX-30, and both will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Mazda will equip the CX-50 with its latest all-wheel drive (AWD) technology and its Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (known as Mi-Drive). The Mi-Drive system will bring a rugged performance to the CX-50 and allow it to be driven in a variety of condtions including off-road terrain.

Mazda says that in the coming years, the CX-50 will also be offered with electrified powertrains, including a traditional hybrid model.

Hopefully, those future EVs will have more range than the MX-30.

Those looks, though

While we have a lot of unanswered questions about the CX-50 and what it truly means for the CX-5, we are impressed with the looks of the CX-50. The two-toned hood with CX-50 emblazoned on it is sharp. Plus, the sleek, long silhouette and wide stance definitely separates itself from the more conservative-looking CX-5.

The adventuring vibe carries over to the inside, including a panoramic moonroof, which is a Mazda-first feature. Materials and details are inspired by outdoor gear and are well-suited to someone with an active lifestyle.

You’ll also see some new color options, including Zircon Sand exterior paint and an available terracotta interior color — both of which which are a stark jump from the otherwise conservative color schemes you see on other Mazda vehicles.

Which one of these is not like the other?

If you haven’t paid attention to the Mazda lineup for a while, the CX-3 and CX-7 are gone, and the CX-9 will be departing after the 2023 model year. Plus, as previously referenced, two new additional SUVs, the CX-70 and CX-90, are coming. So, after 2023, this is what Mazda’s SUV lineup will look like:

  • CX-30 – sub-compact crossover
  • CX-5 – compact crossover
  • CX-50 – midsize crossover
  • CX-70 – wide-body, two-row SUV
  • CX-90 – wide-body, three-row SUV

So, yeah, the CX-5 becomes the odd man out.

The bottom line on Mazda CX-50

We are digging the looks of the CX-50 with its more distinctive and rugged styling, and we hope this overlanding, off-road craze isn’t just a passing fad — otherwise it may date Mazda’s new SUV rather quickly.

We hope the CX-5 sticks around, although its presence adds confusion to the lineup not only because it’s the only one without a “0” but also because it appears similarly sized to the CX-50 — even if Mazda is calling one compact and the other midsize.

Consumer confusion, especially with bizarro name changes like this can often go wrong for an automaker. Frankly, it’s a risky proposition for Mazda, especially considering how well the CX-5 sells.

The CX-50 will go on sale in early 2022 as a 2023 model.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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