Is Mazda Going Full Subaru? The New 2022 CX-50 Soft-Roader Takes the Brand in a Rugged New Direction
If there's one thing that's been more popular than crossover SUVs themselves in recent years, it's crossovers that are specifically aimed at the outdoorsy crowd, positioned as being more rugged and more capable than your typical pavement-dwelling CUV.
Overlanding Compact SUV Market Share
Subaru is a company that's perfected this market, and it's led the relatively small Japanese automaker to massive success in North America. And now Mazda, another smaller automaker from Japan is trying to capture some of that formula with its just-debuted 2022 CX-50.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the CX-50 for the existing Mazda CX-5. Not only are their names similar, but they share a lot of DNA in their platform and shape—but the CX-50 is a new model designed for North America that will be sold alongside the CX-5 (for the time being at least).
And while the CX-5 is known for its handling and classy, understated styling the CX-50 takes all of that and pulls it in a slightly more aggressive, off-road direction. The shape is familiar, but more upright, with fenders that bulge and more pronounced cladding.
To back up the rugged looks, Mazda says it's outfitted the CX-50 with an updated i-Activ all-wheel-drive system with new drive modes for off-road driving and for towing.
Familiar Engine Options
Powertrains carry over from the CX-5, with a base 2.5 liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and an optional 2.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder for higher trims—both connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Additionally, Mazda says in the future it will be offering the CX-50 with a hybrid powertrain and perhaps even a full electric version in the coming years.
With newcomers like the Ford Bronco Sport and the aforementioned Subaru models, the "active" crossover segment is a very competitive one, but if Mazda can deliver on its promise of an enthusiast-grade driving experience with a nice dose of ruggedness, the CX-50 could build a nice niche for itself in this growing market.
Pricing info hasn't been released, but we should know more when production begins in January at the new Huntsville, Alabama factory that Mazda is sharing with Toyota.
Made in America for America. It's a fitting birthplace for this new crossover aimed at one of the country's hottest vehicle segments.
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- Want to see what the new CX-50 is going up against? Here's a look at some of Subaru's most capable offerings.