When Did Mazda Start Making Subarus?

2024 Mazda CX-50 GT Turbo

Price as tested: $46,750 CAD

Colour: Polymetal Grey Metallic

Regular readers will know that I like Mazda vehicles a great deal. Yes, they stumble from time to time with the likes of the CX-30 but for the most part they make good vehicles and they build them well. When Mazda announced the all new CX-50 for the 2023 model year I admit to some confusion. Why did we need an all-new model that looked so close to an existing model (in this case the already excellent CX-5)? Wouldn’t they be cannibalising sales of one of their most popular vehicles for something so very similar? I was also a little put off by the looks. Why did it have to have so much cladding everywhere? What happened to painted metal? I like painted metal. As circumstances have it, I didn’t get to test the CX-50 until now. I went in wanting to dislike this car, I truly did. I fought hard in fact to take umbrage with anything about this scandalous interloper. The reality though is that I like it. Not only do I like it, but I finally understand the point of the whole thing. Mazda now has their very own Subaru.

Subaru has a legendary reputation for making solid, AWD adventure boxes. People love their Subarus. I love Subarus too. Mazda clearly decided they wanted to tap into this cult of personality with the all-new CX-50. It’s bigger, wider and far more rugged looking than its urban cousin the CX-5. The CX-50 would be quite happy to go anywhere a Subaru can. Mazda has even adopted Subarus recent love of excessive cladding. There is a lot of that sort of thing going on with the CX-50 and while the Polymetal Grey Metallic colour of this test vehicle goes a long way to softening the impact of this design choice, at least we can say Subaru did it first. What else was Mazda to do?

On offer with the CX-50 is the same powertrain options you get in all the other similarly sized vehicles in the Mazda lineup. A 2.5L 4-cylinder is all you can have. You do have a choice as to whether or not you want a turbo charger slapped on the side of it. The naturally aspirated offering delivers 187hp and 186lb/ft of torque. While not exhilarating this is sufficient for your daily drive and would deliver nice linear power should you decide to go scale a mountain in you CX-50. If you opt to live a little and go for the turbo charged version you get 227hp and 310 lb/ft with 87 octane and 256 hp and 320 lb/ft with 93 octane. I’ve never had the opportunity to test the octane differential so I can’t say if it’s accurate, but it’s written all over the Mazda promotional materials, so it has to be true.

AWD is standard on all Mazda SUV’s and an off-road mode is available for trailblazing purposes on the CX-50. A curious choice in the GT trim on this press vehicle are the 20” rims. If you’re going to go down the road less travelled, sidewall is your friend. It adds greater comfort and versatility that helps make rough roads less of a misery. I can’t imagine having much choice in reducing my tire pressure in this vehicle without running the risk of damaging the wheels when I go stomping over a particularly nasty pothole.

Another interesting choice on the CX-50 is the standard across the range panoramic roof. There’s nothing wrong with this roof. Quite the opposite as it’s a nice piece of equipment and a big advantage over the CX-5 in which you can only get the usual little porthole sunroof. But again, if going off-road is really your objective a very expensive glass roof that doesn’t take well to being showered in gravel or assaulted by low hanging tree branches seems counter-intuitive.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. While I didn’t think so when the CX-50 first came out, after spending some time with it I’ve come to admire just how pretty a vehicle it is. The CX-5 is a handsome thing, but the CX-50 is even better. It has wider hips and is far more curvaceous in all the right places. The best part is it isn’t ashamed of it. The CX-50 is living its best life and loving every minute of it.

My wife is currently in the market for a new car. So far, the only thing that has really piqued her interest is the Honda CR-V. No fault with that decision, it’s a great car. The CX-50 however has drawn her gaze. She likes the cut of its jib. While it doesn’t quite offer the interior space of the CR-V, it comes very close and is also competitively priced as similarly equipped. In fact, when you stack the CX-50 up to any of its competitors like the aforementioned CR-V or RAV4, Rogue, Forester or even the CX-5 it holds its own very well.  

There’s a lot to love for the 2024 CX-50. It’s a different direction for Mazda and is a wonderful first step. They’ve decided Subaru has had the everyday adventure vehicle market to themselves for long enough and they’re here to fight. Add to that the CX-50’s good looks, competitive pricing, good standard equipment and excellent build quality and this could be your next Subaru if Subaru just isn’t for you anymore.

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