Mazda CX-5 vs. CX-50: Which One Should You Actually Buy?

The CX-50 is a bit larger, but not much more expensive

Hmm…which of Mazda’s mid-range crossovers deserves your attention (and cash)?

In the past few days, TFL Studios finally had the opportunity to put the venerable Mazda CX-5 together with that is ostensibly it’s big brother: the new CX-50. The two cars share powertrains and certain elements of their styling. However, the CX-50 aims itself more toward the rugged, outdoorsy crowd, while the CX-5 still carries a great reputation for its on-road sportiness. In this video, Tommy and Kase take a look at each car from two different locations.

Yes, we had to get a bit creative in making this happen. Mazda invited Kase out to sunny Santa Barbara, California to test the CX-50. The CX-5, for its part, arrived at TFL HQ in Colorado, and Tommy saw fit to take it over to Tumbleweed Ranch to try it out. Now, the “original” CX-5 is a huge deal for the brand: This is their best-selling model, by far. So how exactly does the CX-50 set itself apart (or does it?) and which one is the better spend?

What these two share in common

We’ve seen Mazda’s strategy at play to some extent with the CX-30. In this case, the 2023 Mazda CX-50 brings a longer, lower, wider and fresher design to the table. The brand’s cash cow did receive some smart updates for the new model year, but we’re still in the midst of a five-year-old generation, as the second-gen CX-5 debuted back in 2017. Side note: I was a bit miffed about that because I just bought a “2016.5” CX-5 in mid-2016, right before the current model’s launch. That’s what you get for not paying attention, so make sure to keep an eye on TFLcar for more updates!

So, should I consider swapping into the CX-50? Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about powertrains choosing between the two. Both cars get the brand’s ubiquitous 2.5-liter SkyActiv engine, with or without turbocharging depending on the trim. The naturally-aspirated versions put out 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. You do get a bit more power this year with the turbo option, as it now puts out up to 256 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. However, the caveat is that you have to run it on premium fuel (93 octane) to get that sort of power. If you don’t and run it on 87 instead, your power output will be 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft.

The good old (and at this point, I use “old” with a more exasperated tone) 6-speed automatic transmission continues as the workhorse of the CX-50 lineup. Good news in that Mazda’s had plenty of time to hammer out the details — the company literally uses this transmission across its entire portfolio, at least for now. If you’re looking for more gears, you’ll have to wait for the larger SUVs. The European CX-60 previewed what’s to come, including a plug-in hybrid powertrain and an 8-speed automatic ‘box. Hallelujah on that last part, I say.

The pricing isn’t really all that different, either

While Tommy and Kase go into further detail on what separates these two (more on that in the video below), both stick around the same price point to start. The 2022 Mazda CX-5 does come in a bit less expensive, at $27,125 for the base 2.5 S, including destination. The CX-50 2.5 S, on the other hand, is $900 more expensive, with a starting price of $28,025.

Check out more on which one is right for you below!