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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. 

2022 Mazda CX-50 on Trail

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.

Mazda CX-50 Tail Rear Hatch

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). 

Mazda CX-50 2022

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. 

2022 Mazda CX-50 in Forest

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.

2022 Mazda CX-50 Interior

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. 

2022 Mazda CX-50 Rear View

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.

2022 Mazda CX-50 Interior

Fierce Competition

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. 

2022 Mazda CX-50 on Trail

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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