2017~2023 CX-5 Vs CX-50

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N. California
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2022 CX-5 SG
The other day while having our 2020 CX-5 GT serviced I had the opportunity to test drive the new 2023 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 and then compare it with a used 2021 Signature CX-5, the only Signature available on the dealer’s lot. We have a 2022 Turbo Signature due to arrive late May and I wanted to make sure it was the correct choice for us. Our 2020 GT has performed flawlessly in the last 2 years but it lacks punch when passing and the Signature’s AWD system would be a benefit to handling and safety here in our mountainous region of N. California. The CX-5 has been a perfect size for us, and with no plans to go off-roading or roof-camping the 50 will likely be overkill, but I was offered a test drive from my dealer so why not?

The 50’s interior is a bit tighter due to the lower roof line and slimmer greenhouse, although the large glass moon roof keeps the interior bright. With the exception of leg room, the 5 exceeds the 50 in all other interior passenger dimensions. Headroom is greater by ~1.5” both front & rear. The Terracotta leather looks great with the Zircon Sand Metallic exterior but the Nappa Caturra Brown seats in the Signature were more supple and felt more upscale. I was comfortable in both although I think the 50 seat bolsters are larger and feel more on the sporty side. The leather & wood theme continues into the rear seating area in the 5 where the 50 has hard plastic upper door sills to match its cargo area sides, unlike the 5’s carpeting along the rear wheel wells. The 50’s advantage is in that cargo area’s length, but once again it losses out in height. Even though the 50 is longer, the 5 offers more passenger volume (103.6cf v 98.3cf) and total cargo volume (59.3cf v 56.3cf) but has less room behind the rear seats (30cf v 31.4cf.)

Both models have the 2.5 turbo engines with Mazda’s 6-speed autos so there’s no discernible difference in acceleration. The 50 model came equipped with 20” wheels and 45 series tires and it shows in the ride & handling. Mazda has tuned this for a firmer ride than the 5 and it felt more responsive to steering inputs on the smooth pavement of my test drives. The lower roof line and seating position also support that impression. The 5’s ride is smoother and more composed on its 55-series 19” tires. I couldn’t push either car hard enough to test out the rear suspension differences but I know the 5 can handle rough pavement well and I assume that’s where its superior rear suspension will prevail over the 50’s beam axle. Both cars were rattle-free but the 5 was quieter and felt more solid. Mazda has further tweaked this chassis on the current models so I’m expecting even more refinement from our 2022 Signature.

The CX-50 is a handsome vehicle and has the styling cues to match its intended function. Its wireless Car-play and vehicle lock button on the hatch will no doubt show up in the 5 eventually but for now they’re missing. The black plastic grill surround looks nice but feels cheap compared to the same part on the 5. It’s rugged and edgy compared to the 5, but lacks the Signature’s fine-tuning and feeling of quality. If I didn’t have my MX-5 the 50 would be a great choice, but for our use the more refined Signature CX-5 is a better complement.
 

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Mazda CX-9 Signature
Great initial impression review. Not sure why Mazda would put 20s + 45 series tires on a "off-road" oriented outdoorsy vehicle.
I'm sure the cx-5 signature is the right choice if you're looking for refinement.
 
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N. California
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2022 CX-5 SG
That button on the power lift gate closes and locks the hatch, the CX-50 has a dual-button module which allows you to lock the doors from the hatch with the second button.
 
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Phoenix
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2021 signature
OP, can you assess the overall ride as well as the comfort/cushiness/side-to-side roominess of the 50 compared to the 5?
 
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2019 CX-5 AWD
I couldn’t push either car hard enough to test out the rear suspension differences but I know the 5 can handle rough pavement well and I assume that’s where its superior rear suspension will prevail over the 50’s beam axle. Both cars were rattle-free but the 5 was quieter and felt more solid.

The lack of 4-wheel independent suspension compromises ride, handling and emergency maneuvering. KM77 tested both the CX-30 with the 2.5 NA and CX-5 with a 240 pound heavier diesel engine, and the results speak for themselves. Squealing tires on the slalom test with the torsion beam setup.


 
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2018 CX-9 GT
I love how everyone is extrapolating results from one car to others. The cx-30 did not succeed in the moose test so that obviously means that every other mazda with a torsion beam suspension will fail it.

No considerations at all for tire type, spring rate, suspension tuning, wheel size, center of gravity, brake strength, weight distribution, wheel travel, etc.

Most of the cars on the road shares the same independent suspension set-up, so that would obviously mean that most of the car should have the same result as that cx-5 did.

Case in point: the RAV4 failed the moose test with an independent suspension, but then did better with an update to its stability control.


I am not saying the Cx-50 will handle better than the CX-5, it likely won’t just due to the nature of « better off-roadness » tuning.

Great review from the OP though. Well written and really helpful. I wonder if there is more useable space in the cx-50 cargo area even though total volume is lower, with the wider floor from the absence of the wheel well intrusion.
 
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New York
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2022 CX-5 Turbo
Excellent review by OP. Sat in a CX-50 while I was shopping recently; while I fit at 6'1, it definitely felt more claustrophobic then the CX-5.

At the same price, it would have been a tough decision(increased towing capacity, slightly more usable cargo area, and AA touchscreen on the CX-50 vs IRS and roomier cabin in the CX-5).

That being said, between MSRP differences and dealer discounts, it ended up being a ~$5K difference between the two similarly equipped(CX-5 Turbo vs. CX-50 Turbo Premium). At that point, it was a no brainer for me.
 
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N. California
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2022 CX-5 SG
OP, can you assess the overall ride as well as the comfort/cushiness/side-to-side roominess of the 50 compared to the 5?
Since the 50's ride is definitely on the firm side with those 20" wheels, I'd be curious to drive one of the models with the smaller wheels to experience the difference. Hip room, shoulder room, and head room are all slightly greater in the 5. After driving my GT for 2 years I may be more sensitive to the 50's diminished space above the window line.
That function goes way back. My 16 Touring has it as well as our 19 GTR.
As stated above the 50 has an extra button next to the hatch switch that allows you to lock the doors.
Excellent review by OP. Sat in a CX-50 while I was shopping recently; while I fit at 6'1, it definitely felt more claustrophobic then the CX-5.

At the same price, it would have been a tough decision(increased towing capacity, slightly more usable cargo area, and AA touchscreen on the CX-50 vs IRS and roomier cabin in the CX-5).

That being said, between MSRP differences and dealer discounts, it ended up being a ~$5K difference between the two similarly equipped(CX-5 Turbo vs. CX-50 Turbo Premium). At that point, it was a no brainer for me.
Thanks, and the dealership I visited ended up with a similar price difference between those 2 models as well.... interesting as the Signature definitively felt like a higher quality vehicle throughout. I guess you are paying a premuim for that ruggedness and off-road prowess along with some buyers' desire for the newest model.
 
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Phoenix
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2021 signature
Thanks, and the dealership I visited ended up with a similar price difference between those 2 models as well.... interesting as the Signature definitively felt like a higher quality vehicle throughout. I guess you are paying a premuim for that ruggedness and off-road prowess along with some buyers'
Was that compared to the Turbo premium plus CX-50?
 
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N. California
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2022 CX-5 SG
Was that compared to the Turbo premium plus CX-50?
Yes, both top of the line models... there may have been an even bigger premium but I didn't pay much attention as the dealer had additional required items included in the 50 and only a $250 add-on for some clear protective door/handle film on the Signature I have on order.

Here in N.California there are currently no CX-5s in stock, all the inventory showing up when doing a search indicates an "in transit" status. Even though my dealer expected my car's arrival sometime in May, I found out through a Mazda connection that my VIN was scheduled to be assembled on April 22nd, but the system indicated that it had yet to be built... :oops:
 
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2020 CX-5 GT AWD
Thanks for your info. Although I've never driven a CX-50, you kind of confirmed my first impression, that the CX-5 is the finest.
 
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2019 CX-5 AWD
If anyone is interested in comparing these vehicles, I suggest watching the savagegeese reviews. They go into detail on engineering, ride, and drivability.



 
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Virginia
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2021 CX-5 White
...Our 2020 GT has performed flawlessly in the last 2 years but it lacks punch when passing and the Signature’s AWD system would be a benefit to handling and safety here in our mountainous region of N. California...
Although our mountains here on the east coast are no comparison to N. California mountains, but I will say that the sport mode makes a huge difference in curvy mountainous regions, affording you more control. The normal, non-sport mode, to me, seems to be highly biased toward optimizing mpg. Sport mode reacts faster to throttle inputs, changes shift points, holds the gear longer, before up shifting, keeping you more securely in the powerband.

What is your experience with CX5 sport mode vs the CX50 in normal and sport?
 
I considered buying the CX-50 when shopping for my CX-5, but it quickly became apparent the CX-50 wasn't worth the wait, or the extra cost. Dealership sold out of their first allotment and was waiting for a 2nd shipment to get it (or at least they told me).

First off, I'm OK with an older model car as long as it still drives well and has great safety ratings (crash tests, bright headlights, etc). Second, for the CX-50 you had to step up 1 trim level to get the same features that we wanted on the CX-5. That meant a $3-4K increase if we chose the CX-50 in our opinion. I liked the look of the CX-50 in general more than the CX-5, it wasn't by a huge margin. Ground clearance & interior volume wasn't a big factor for us either.
 
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N. California
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2022 CX-5 SG
Although our mountains here on the east coast are no comparison to N. California mountains, but I will say that the sport mode makes a huge difference in curvy mountainous regions, affording you more control. The normal, non-sport mode, to me, seems to be highly biased toward optimizing mpg. Sport mode reacts faster to throttle inputs, changes shift points, holds the gear longer, before up shifting, keeping you more securely in the powerband.

What is your experience with CX5 sport mode vs the CX50 in normal and sport?
It sounds like you are another fan of that sport mode Chas… pretty much my default mode when driving in our twisty and mountainous terrain. Unfortunately, my test drive was 2 hours away down in the flat lands of Sacramento and limited to level suburban surface roads and a short freeway stint, so I didn’t bother switching through the different drive modes. The freeway portion did give me the opportunity to test out the grip circling the on-ramp, and kick-down acceleration when traffic allowed, with both obviously more responsive than my 2.5 FWD GT, and the 50 feeling more planted when pushed around the ramp due to its slightly lower seating position and stiffer suspension. I’ve been a Miata owner since 1996 and am currently on my 4th one so my R & H preference would be more towards the CX-50 if it were an only car, but the Signature suits our needs better with its quieter cabin and more upscale interior. And although I think both are good looking, I do prefer the cleaner and more elegant design of the CX-5, especially with the new body-colored cladding.