2024 Mazda CX-50 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus

The best small crossover under $50k

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Excellent driving manners, superb steering, handsomely styled exterior stands out in the crowd, premium interior, great all-wheel drive system.
Negatives: Premium fuel required for the horsepower bump.
Bottom Line: The CX-50 is one of Mazda's best. Although it might not seem much bigger than a CX-5, it feels like a very different flavor. Some of the best driving dynamics of any crossover at this price, the CX-50 also looks and feels premium. We'd own this ourselves for our next vehicle.
The CX-50 slots in pretty much right next to the top-selling CX-5, w which doesn't seem to make much sense. But it looks nothing like the CX-5 because it has a more SUV-like exterior, fancier interior appointments at the higher trim levels, and it actually is a tad wider, giving the CX-50 more interior volume than its sleeker sibling. Every trim level shares the same 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's surprisingly capable. Additional standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise control, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus is the top trim level for the CX-50. We drove it for a week, and you can read our detailed review below.

Driving Experience



Mazda really cares about the driving dynamics of every car it makes, and that even includes its first off-road-leaning crossover. The CX-50 exhibits excellent control, good acceleration, and superb braking. Under the hood are the same powertrain choices as the CX-5: the base engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder good for 187 horsepower. Upgrade to the turbocharged 2.5-liter and you get 227 horsepower (256 with 93-octane gas) and excellent torque. The suspension is firmer in the CX-50 than the CX-5, but the ground clearance is higher. The CX-50 also happens to have an impressive all-wheel drive system known as i-Activ. AWD system and a unique off-road driving mode.

Ride Quality: The CX-50's ride is on the firm side, but it's never upsetting and manages bumps and gaps well.

Acceleration: The CX-50 is more than adequate when it comes to thrust, and throttle response is excellent, as is the 6-speed automatic transmission. 60 mph arrives in 6.6 seconds, which is pretty good.

Braking: The brakes have great feel, progression, and modulation. Stopping distances are at the top of the segment.

Steering: Steering effort is good, as is responsivenss and precision. It's one of the better steering setups in the segment, and Mazda continues to prioritize it unlike just about every other mainstream manufacturer.

Handling: Body control is very good with mild roll and excellent balance. You can drive it pretty hard without upsetting it in the curves.




Mazda doesn't make the biggest, brightest screens with the fanciest graphics. That's actually intentional so as not to distract from driving. They used to shy away from touchscreens, but the CX-50 has them on every trim level but the base. You can even use it while driving, but you have to activate it via the settings.

Infotainment System: The 10.25" touchscreen works well, but it's pretty hard to reach from the driver's seat. We like the fact that it doesn't dominate the dash. Graphics are better than the last generation infotainment system, but it won't win any design awards despite its clean aesthetic.

Controls: Mazda does superb physical controls ranging from the climate controls to the steering wheel controls and the infotainment controls. The screen is actually hard to reach, and we believe that's intentional so that you defer to the excellent Commander control knob between the seats.




We love the looks of the CX-50 because you can spot it a mile away but it still looks like a Mazda. The more rugged styling doesn't make it look stilted and awkward. Instead, it still bears sportiness and delivers a hunkered-down stance. The cabin is also one of the best in the business in terms of materials and looks.

Front: There's a lot of black on the front end, but that's a good thing when it's so tastefully don't. The black mesh grille and frame mate nicely with the black headlight surrounds. The vertical intakes also look good. You won't notice the thin LED foglights during the day, but they're brilliantly sandwiched between the black cladding on the lower fascia and the body-colored bumper trim.

Rear: Mazda thought the CX-50 taillights looked so good that they put them on the 2023 CX-5. The back end of the CX-50 is clean and unobtrusive with some tasty twin round tailpipes.

Profile: We love the profile of the CX-50 with its long low hood, black fender trim, and the cases at all four corners. We could do without the chrome trim bits on the rocker panel and the side rear window.

Cabin: The CX-50 has the second most beautiful Mazda interior (second only to the new CX-90). The lines are clean, and the detailing like the "X" stitching on the leather dash and door panels is like nothing else we've seen. The Terra Cotta leather is also stunning and provides a nice contrast against the black plastic, which is also of very high quality. Nobody does interiors like Mazda at this price. Nobody.




The CX-50 is very similar in size to the CX-5, but its interior offers a more comfortable experience due to its wider body. There's more width, more legroom, but less headroom. The seats are also some of the best in the segment for this size.

Front Seats: We love the seats in the CX-50. They're supportive, well-cushioned, and situated well in the cabin for optimal views and driving position. The leather is also soft without feeling mushy.

Rear Seats: Legroom and hip/shoulder room are plentiful, but the sloping roofline cuts down on headroom. The outboard seats are excellent, but the middle position makes the occupant suffer a tad due to the fold-down armrest that causes a bulge in the seatback.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Noise levels are low, but you do get a modicum of road noise from the all-terrain tires. Build quality is top-notch, and there are no errant cabin noises.

Visibility: Visibility all around is pretty good with only mild obstructions from the D-pillar. The sloping hood allows for easy placement of the CX-50 in tight spots.

Climate: The climate system is effective and moves good volumes of air quickly. The CX-50's heated seats are also great, and there's noticeable variation in the three adjustment levels.




The CX-50 doesn't score quite as well as the CX-5, but it's still a very safe automobile. In terms of standard safety features, there's a lot to love, and there's are no optional features to upgrade to at this Meridian trim level.

IIHS Rating: The CX-50 earns the Top Safety Pick award, only getting dinged on the side impact test and headlights (depending on trim level).

NHTSA Rating: It earned five full stars from the Federal government in crash testing.

Standard Tech: The CX-50 Meridian Edition comes with a big set of features including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning system, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera, and adaptive cruise control.

Optional Tech: None.




The CX-50 benefits from its wider dimensions by offering a smidge more cargo room than the CX-5 sibling. In terms of interior storage options, the CX-50 is one of the better vehicles for smaller gear items, especially in the front row.

Storage Space: There's quite a bit of storage space with a small tray in the center console, big cupholders, and a deep armrest. The door pockets are also long and deep.

Cargo Room: The CX-50 offers 31.4 cubic feet behind row two and 56.3 cubes with the seats folded flat. It's a tad more than the CX-5 but a little bit less than the Toyota RAV4 and substantially less than the newly redesigned Honda CR-V. That said, the load floor is nicely flat, and there are some great side compartments behind the rear wheels to prevent items from sliding around.

Fuel Economy



We drove mostly in Sport mode to maximize the Mazda driving experience, so our numbers were not close to the EPA estimates. Our time in the CX-50 was a mix of highway and local driving. For the segment, it's actually decent for a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Observed: 18.5 mpg.

Distance Driven: 183 miles.




The 12-speaker Bose premium audio system is excellent and delivers tons of rich, bass-filled sound. It comes as standard equipment on the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus, a huge plus. We enjoyed cranking up the tunes while driving, and we didn't experience any distortion even at higher volumes.

Final Thoughts

The CX-50 proves once again that Mazda really knows what it's doing. Okay, so it's similar in size to the CX-5, but it's a flavor that distinct enough to separate it from its best-selling sibling. The CX-50 is a delight to drive, as it is to look at and sit in. The fact that it gets so many great standard features even in base trim is a boon for buyers, but it's the top trim that makes it feel truly premium. You'll never grow tired of driving it, and it might just be the best crossover at its price point.

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