Made in America, the CX-50 is not coming to Australia – but this rugged midsize SUV gives a first look at the future of Mazda’s crossovers
Mazda has unveiled the 2022 CX-50 midsize SUV that is set to go on sale in the United States early next year.
Produced at the company’s new Huntsville, Alabama factory it shares with Toyota, the CX-50 becomes the third “Mazda Premium” product in the brand’s lineup – following the latest Mazda 3 small car and CX-30 small SUV.
Despite the similarities in size, the CX-50 is not designed as a replacement for the CX-5 – which Chasing Cars understands will live on for several more years. Instead, the CX-50 adds a more ruggedly-styled and premium-appointed option to the brand’s SUV portfolio.
In its US home market, the CX-50 will compete squarely with the Ford Bronco Sport – another rugged midsize car-based SUV that does not come to Australia – plus the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.
Mazda Australia has already ruled out the CX-50 for Australia – but the CX-60, which sits on the brand’s new longitudinal large-car platform, has been confirmed for Australian release with an expected release date of late 2022.
Mazda sets the tone of the CX-50 but fitting all-wheel drive as standard and offers a choice of either a naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with both paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Specific power and torque outputs are not yet confirmed, but it is likely they will be close to those produced by the same engines as found in the existing CX-5.
In the US, the CX-5 makes 140kW/252Nm from the 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol ‘four, while the turbocharged version of the same engine makes a stout 186kW/434Nm.
The turbocharged unit is likely to be paired exclusively to an AWD system, while the naturally aspirated version could offer a choice of front-wheel drive or optional AWD.
Mazda says that a hybrid engine will be offered on the CX-50 at a later date, with signs pointing to the CX-50 picking up a hybrid powertrain shared with Toyota.
This is due to the fact the CX-50 will be built at the shared Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) plant in Alabama, which would make the transfer of hardware far easier.
It is possible that the CX-50 will use a version of Toyota’s 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrids. The 1.8 hybrid is currently used in Toyota’s C-HR Hybrid and Corolla Hybrid locally, while the 2.0-litre is found in the Lexus UX.
A Toyota-sourced hybrid system could also provide Mazda with an additional AWD option while cutting fuel bills.
We are used to Mazda releasing curvy SUVs with organic lines, but the CX-50 represents a notable break in this philosophy with the midsizer picking up a rugged aesthetic
Mazda has evolved its Kodo design philosophy by adding a rugged edge for the CX-50 by adding chunky wheel arches, a front bash plate and flared vents on the rear bumper.
The Japanese manufacturer also offers a range of off-road accessories including a roof-mounted cargo holder and CX-50-branded decals on the bonnet.
Mazda has fitted strong roof rails to hold the weight of cargo and strengthened the b-pill to increase the load capacity, though an official rating has not yet been stated.
A choice of two wheel options are also offered, giving buyers the choice between larger wheels with a spiked design or a smaller, more utilitarian design with a square look.
The interior of the CX-50 takes notes from the CX-30 but offers a slew of unique touches including vertical air vents on either side of the driver and near the passenger side door.
Mazda has integrated a widescreen display that is controlled by the dial in the centre console which is flanked by some tasteful brown leather seats and interior trim.
Assisting the outdoor theme is the addition of a panoramic sunroof that spans across the front and back seats with a partition in the middle.
Production of the CX-50 will begin in January 2022 and will likely go on sale sometime between March and May that year.
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