Car Overview: New CX-50 adds turbo power | Business

There’s a new Mazda on the block and while it shares much with the sibling CX-5, the all-new CX-50 has more glitz inside and more zoom outside.

Both are compact crossovers and are sold side by side in showrooms with one important difference. The CX-50 sits lower, is wider, longer and carries a bigger stick in the form of a turbocharged engine that’s good for up to 256 ponies compared with the non-turbo’s 187 horsepower.

In Sport driving mode, we managed a track time of 6.8 seconds in the runup to 60 miles per hour.

However, stomping on the pedal, the turbo howls and groans as it reaches speed. We found it best to drive practically to achieve EPA combined fuel rating of 25 mpg.

All 10 trim levels come with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. To keep the Mazda feeling lively, the CX-50 shares its underpinnings with the company’s subcompact crossovers and cars upholding Mazda’s tradition of sporty handling.

Worth noting, the CX-50 is assembled at a new US based Toyota-Mazda partnership manufacturing facility in Alabama.

With room for five passengers, the CX-50 is offered base S, Select, Preferred, Preferred Plus, Premium, Premium Plus, Turbo, Turbo Meridian (our tester) Turbo Premium and Turbo Premium Plus with prices ranging from $28,825 to $43,575 before freight charges.

Handling reminded us of some European models that are known for their firm suspension and heavy steering. While not the quickest horse in the barn, we found the CX-50 fares best as an all-around crossover with city and highway adeptness.

However, it does have the off-road chops of a Subaru Forester with similar ground clearance. Our Turbo Meridian tester was equipped with all-terrain paws to handle light off-roading — just enough to enjoy the experience.

Our near mid-range tester offered up comfortable seating front and back featuring contrasting and stitched seating surfaces. Rear leg and shoulder room is adequate; however, the CX-5 gains headroom over the CX-50.

An upgraded center console infotainment screen is easy to manipulate controls and there are knobs and dials for adjustments without the need for drilling down. A nice touch. Instrument gauges are partially digital. We were disappointed to see more than half of the trims lacking in-car navigation, instead referring owners to purchased Mazda hardware or, lacking that, the use of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto maps.

Rear cargo space ranks below most rivals with 56 cubic feet behind folded second row seats and 31 cubes with second row seats in their upright position. Fortunately, door pockets and front console bin make up for ho-hum storage. Still, we managed to pack four large golf bags in the cargo area without bulging at the seams.

One bright spot with the CX-50 turbo is a near class leading 3,500-pound towing capacity and 2,000 pounds with the base engine. All CX-50s include automated emergency braking, lane departure warnings with lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control as standard equipment. Automatic headlights, 360-degree camera overview, rear cross-traffic alert and pedestrian detection, available on many rivals, are optional in the Mazda.

Aside from its deficiencies, the CX-50 is a likeable SUV worthy of a test drive.

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