The carmaker says the two serve completely different buyers - but industry experts aren't convinced.
If you're in the market for a compact SUV, you could do a lot worse than a Mazda. The CX-5 is not only a svelte-looking crossover but a solidly-built one too. What's more, with a starting MSRP of $26,250, it represents ridiculously good value. But if it's a touch too demure for your tastes, Mazda will be all too happy to point you in the direction of the CX-50. It's undeniably handsome, with rugged styling add-ons and superior off-roading capabilities.
Mazda is adamant that the two similarly priced SUVs appeal to different audiences and, as such, don't capitalize on each other's sales. However, some industry insiders seem to disagree with the Hiroshima-based brand. Speaking to Automotive News, AutoPacific's president reckons the CX-5 won't be around for much longer.
"Mazda is spinning it as having two models in the same segment for different buyers ... it's just like what happened when they introduced the CX-30. [The] CX-3 stuck around a couple of years and then was gone," said Ed Kim.
Mazda has just refreshed the CX-5, so we're guessing it won't disappear as quickly as the admittedly long-in-the-tooth CX-3 did. At first, the CX-30 was positioned as a slightly larger, more refined alternative to the CX-3; now it's the brand's entry-level crossover. Kim's opinion is seconded by Ivan Drury of Edmunds, who believes the CX-5 may be around for up to three years "after CX-50 sales pick up."
However, cutting the CX-5 from the lineup also poses another problem. The popular crossover managed to muster strong sales last year, with Mazda shifting 168,000 examples. Interestingly, the CX-50 faces a production cap of 150,000 units per annum. The carmaker has said CX-5 sales would be even more successful if the brand has more inventory, but noted the CX-50 will remove some pressure from its more road-biased sibling. "If you were a customer, it would make no sense to pick the CX-5 over the CX-50 - unless you got a discount," added Drury.
It gets trickier when you look at the respective pricing. Yes, the CX-5 offers phenomenal value but the more desirable CX-50 is priced not much higher, at $26,800. For the extra outlay, you get more rugged styling and an arguably more modern interior. Things are only set to get trickier for Mazda with the introduction of the upcoming CX-70 and CX-90 models. With ambitions to rebrand itself as a luxury carmaker, does the CX-5 have a place in an increasingly premium lineup?
The aforementioned CX-90 will serve as the company's halo model in the USA and therefore supplant the aging CX-9. As talented as it may be, it would make sense for the CX-5 to be pushed out of the family. It would certainly be a pity as the CX-5 is a delightful car to drive daily and not everybody wants the rugged styling afforded by the CX-50. Still, from a business perspective, it would make sense.