Its goal: help double US sales.
Mazda is on a mission to increase its market presence in North America and has been updating its lineup accordingly. Gone is the relatively slow-selling CX-3 subcompact crossover, which was deemed too small for American tastes. Although not a direct replacement, the all-new CX-50 debuted last November with a rugged new attitude. And now it's officially begun series production at the Japanese automaker's new Huntsville, Alabama plant, a $2.3 billion joint venture with Toyota.
"This is an exciting day for both Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) team members and Mazda North America employees to celebrate the first CX-50 to roll off the Discovery Line at MTM," said Mazda North America CEO Jeff Guyton. "The production of the CX-50 here signifies the importance of the North American market to Mazda and our commitment to investing in the US."
With the goal of being a sincere Subaru Forester rival, the CX-50 comes standard with the latest version of the i-Active All-Wheel Drive system and the new Mazda Intelligent Drive Select. The CX-50 will initially be offered with a choice of two 2.5-liter engines: the SkyActiv-G naturally aspirated four-cylinder with an expected 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, or a turbocharged version that produces up to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of twist. The outdated six-speed automatic will route power to all four wheels. Hopefully, this gearbox will be replaced with a more advanced unit in the near future.
Speaking of which, Mazda says electrified powertrains will arrive "at a later date," including a hybrid model. Like all new Mazdas, the CX-50's interior is a lovely place to be.
Fit and finish are expected to be excellent overall and, for the first time ever in a Mazda, a panoramic moonroof is available. There are also high-strength roof rails, reinforced B-pillars, and door jambs to help secure equipment, like bikes and skis, on the roof. Think of the CX-50 as the CX-5's off-road-focused corporate cousin. Both crossovers share a platform and drivetrain.
In a previous interview, Mazda's global CEO, Akira Marumoto, expressed his high expectations for the CX-50. The goal is that it'll help double the automaker's North American sales within the coming few years. Official pricing has not been announced but we expect it'll begin at just below $30,000. An on-sale date should be provided in the very near future.