Well, we’ve come to the end of our long-term test with the 2023 Mazda CX-50. Over the past three months, we’ve really gotten to know this vehicle’s pros and cons, as well as how it compares to other popular SUVs in the segment.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of the last couple months (if you’ve already read it, then just skip down to my final thoughts on the CX-50):

Introduction to the 2023 Mazda CX-50

In our initial introduction, I immediately noticed the wide back seat with adequate space for three car seats, as well as a generously large trunk that would satisfy any Costco shopper. The infotainment was a bit annoying at first without the touch option enabled, but I quickly learned there’s an option to activate it.

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

An update on the new SUV

With the help of two of my fellow Millennial moms, we put the family hauler to the test in this update. We discussed the screen’s functionality, its difficulties and its similarity to a tablet. The dial in the centre console has become more intuitive as the weeks pass, as Mazda intended. The cargo space really is a huge plus! There’s sufficient legroom in the back and an awesome surround view camera that makes it super easy to park the CX-50.

2023 Mazda CX-50 vs 2022 Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 is Mazda’s best-selling SUV and fourth best-selling SUV in Canada. In this comparison, we found the CX-50 and CX-5 have a handful of similarities such as housing the same engine, a 2.5L inline-four, a bunch of similar safety features, as well as being a five-seat family vehicle. The CX-50 is slightly longer and wider making it slightly easier to fit my car seats, while the CX-5 is taller and has a bit more headroom. While I do prefer the CX-50, the one thing I wish the CX-50 would copy from the CX-5 is the 40/20/40 split back seat; it’s so practical for families.

Compare Mazda’s CX-5 and CX-50 specs to the CR-V and RAV4

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

2023 Mazda CX-50 vs 2022 Toyota Venza

You’ll have to stay tuned for the upcoming comparison to find out which five-seater came out on top, but when Elle Alder and I compared the CX-50 to the 2022 Toyota Venza, it wasn’t quite the runaway win that we initially assumed. The Venza has a hybrid powertrain, which automatically gives it bonus points, but it’s got that outdated infotainment system. Can Mazda’s new-for-the-American-market SUV best Toyota’s reliability?

Road trips in the CX-50

We’ve done a couple long drives over the summer, including a trip from Mississauga to a little beach near Georgina. The driver’s seat was comfortable for the journey and once the kids were comfortably seated, they lasted a whole four minutes before asking, “Are we there yet?” The trunk was filled to the top because a one-day beach trip with three kids tends to look like we’re traveling for an entire month — you never know what to expect with kids.

Amid a pretty heavy rainfall, we were able to take cover in the CX-50 where we ate our lunch and waited for the sun to come back out, which it thankfully did. Luckily, anything stuck in the trunk was also fairly easily accessible from the back seat. I’m not sure how this happened because I thought it was nearly impossible to lock yourself out of a car with the keys still inside, however, at some point someone must have hit the lock button which locked all four doors. Fortunately, the trunk was open and my six-year-old climbed in and hopped over the back seat then into the front to unlock the doors.

Clayton Seams strapped some kayaks to the roof of this Mazda and took it on a road trip with Jay Kana, and be on the lookout for a road trip from Jay, who took a CX-50 for a road trip through the scenic Rockies.

Day 2 kayaking to lighthouses with @CLAYTRON9000.#HotJaySummer pic.twitter.com/lGyyAcfvaN

— Jay (@JayKana) July 27, 2022

Adventurers extraordinaire #JayClay weren’t the only ones to snag the CX-50 for some summer fun. Managing Editor Jonathan Yarkony also stole it from us for a week for his cottage retreat, and found many of the same strengths and weaknesses: “I was really pleased with the trunk space and the rear seat width, because my mom joined us for this trip, meaning we needed all three seats in the back, with the trunk fully loaded with a week’s supplies. Even fully loaded with humans and supplies, the CX-50 had plenty of power to drive with my usual pace (let’s just generously call it extremely impatient…), and the car’s fairly wide and reasonably low profile for a crossover gave it steady handling in turns and a pleasant ride on the highway. We also really loved the 360-degree parking cameras, although the steering felt a bit too heavy for a family friendly crossover. Despite the touchscreen enabled by Renita (thank goodness you figured it out, I probably would not have thought something like that can be turned on and off), I still find Mazda’s infotainment system convoluted and unintuitive. The other thing I appreciated during this summer of high gas prices is that the CX-50 Turbo can run happily on regular gas or premium for a 30-hp/10 lb-ft boost (256 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque on 93 octane gas, or 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque on regular 87 octane). Normally I might spring for the extra power, but for a long, quiet drive to cottage country, I’ll take the 20-cent/litre savings between regular and premium and do my best to match its estimated fuel economy of 8.1 on the highway, but in reality, I landed closer to the 10.4 L/100 km city rating.”

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

Cottage life

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

Cottage life at Lake Dickie

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2022 Mazda CX-50

Final thoughts on the CX-50

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a great family car, but maybe not the family car for my family of five. It can more than comfortably fit a young family of three or four. But if you’ve got more than two car seats, then you’re heading into squishy territory and if you’ve got kids anything like mine, then you’ve most definitely heard complaints along the lines of, “But her arm is touching my seat!” That said, kids will eventually grow out of car seats and once their legs are long enough to not constantly kick the back of the front seats, we’re in a whole new playing field and this SUV is back in the game.

Time will tell whether the CX-50 will eventually outsell the best-selling CX-5 or potentially replace it, but it has the potential since it’s got a wider target audience with its off-road capability. Not to mention, Mazda said the “CX-50 will be available with a Toyota-sourced hybrid powertrain in a future model year.” My only concern with a hybrid model is cost. The base trim starts at $37,900, while this Turbo trim is $45,350 and the new Meridian Edition that goes on sale this fall will start at $47,850, which leaves me wondering which trim(s) will get the hybrid powertrain and how much extra will that cost?

long term test wrap-up: 2023 mazda cx-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 — road trip

Would I recommend the 2023 Mazda CX-50 to someone looking for an SUV? Ideally, yes. It checks a lot of boxes for a family vehicle and I’d definitely choose it over the CX-5, but that’s a preference based on my family size. Realistically speaking, I probably would not recommend the CX-50 as my first choice of five-seaters, but mainly because there’s just so much competition — the best-selling Toyota RAV4, the popular Honda CR-V, the off-road ready Subaru Outback, even its own sibling, the list goes on.

How does Mazda stand out in a crowd that’s so over-populated with similar SUVs? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not with that butterfly opening in the centre console — that’s got to go. However, another pocket behind the driver’s seat would be a great start, at least if it wants to keep up.

Keyword: Long term test wrap-up: 2023 Mazda CX-50

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