2024 Mazda CX-50 GS-L

Even in this base CX-50, Mazda's core values and design philosophies still shine brightly
Even in this base CX-50, Mazda's core values and design philosophies still shine brightly

by Rushabh Shah and Nathan Leipsig | July 8, 2024


It’s hard to get excited about crossovers these days. Take Mazda, for example: out of the 12 vehicles they sell, eight of them are crossovers, and the 2024 Mazda CX-50 GS-L is certainly one of them. But this particular CX-50 piqued my interest in one unexpected way: it’s a base Mazda.

We’ve previously delved deep into the CX-50 lineup, but between the GT and the Meridian trims, both with and without the Apex package, they’ve all been higher-spec models. This GS-L is the opposite: starting at just under $40,000, it’s the cheapest CX-50 you can buy. So with that in mind, I set out to find out if this crossover offers anything special over the CX-5, not to mention if I’d be equally impressed by this standard configuration as I’ve been by the more highly optioned models in the past.

The CX-50 represents Mazda’s participation in the “rugged” crossover fad; think Subaru’s Wilderness lineup, Honda’s TrailSport crossovers, and many more. But the CX-50 differs in that instead of being a rugged trim level on top of an existing model, it’s technically standalone product. That being said, strip away its emphasis on active lifestyles and outdoorsy traits, and it’s basically a re-bodied CX-5. That’s not a bad thing: from the outside, the CX-50 is handsome and undoubtedly Mazda. It also has the segment hallmarks, with extra body cladding and 17-inch wheels to finish off the package nicely.

The base CX-50 comes equipped with a normally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, rated at 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The mid-tier GT model and top-level Meridian offer a turbocharged version of this exact engine — which makes the CX-50 one of the most powerful offerings in this segment — but unfortunately the same can’t be said of the base unit. With its modest output, the base powertrain feels strained and because of that, it tends to feel unrefined as it grumbles under the load of day-to-day driving.

No matter what engine you choose, all CX-50s come with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel-drive. For daily driving, the automatic is fine, shifting smoothly and swiftly enough. The only trouble, is the somewhat long gearing almost always makes the CX-50 feel like it’s in the wrong gear. Having an extra gear or two would probably help.

What doesn’t need help is the CX-50’s handling. This crossover follows the same influences in all Mazda products; the steering is snappy, making it feel much smaller than it truly is. The chassis tuning is refined, offered a very compliant ride in most of the driving that you’ll find yourself doing with the CX-50. Should you dare to feel more adventurous with this imitation-rugged crossover, the Sport and Off-Road modes tailoring the CX-50’s throttle response and shift points accordingly.

Inside the CX-50, Mazda’s design philosophy prevails. Even in this base trim, all finishes feel high-quality and the rather simple layout overall is well thought-out. The clean and crisp typefaces, the cohesive blend of fabrics and finishes, and touches like the physical switchgear for the climate controls make this affordable mainstream crossover feel like it’s in a class above. Unlike the upper-trim CX-50s we’ve tested in the past, this base model has leatherette upholstery on the seats, and a textured, cloth-like material spanning the dash. Unsurprisingly, it feels cheaper than you’d expect for a Mazda, but then again, this is a base CX-50. Impressively, a much more high-quality leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard; it’s heated, as are the front seats. Infotainment is handled through a 10.25-inch display controlled by a rotary knob in the centre console, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard. However, in order to get wireless charging and the upgraded 12-speaker Bose sound system, you’ll have to step up to the GT model.

This base CX-50 also only offers a pared-down version of Mazda’s suite of driving assists, meaning features like traffic jam assist, cross-traffic alert, and emergency lane-keeping are locked behind the GT trim. However, the features that are standard — such as blind-spot monitoring and even adaptive cruise control — are standard. They work well, and it’s impressive how much tech Mazda offers at this price point, but it’s too bad more of this safety tech isn’t standard.

And now, the best part. This base CX-50 GS-L topped out at under $40,000 as-tested — $39,300, to be exact — making this variant a very affordable option for buyers looking to step into a genuinely nice vehicle without breaking the bank. If you want the turbo, you’d have to step up to at least the mid-level GT and add another $2,500 to the bill, meaning you’d be looking at a $46,750 outlay. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on your personal preference; I’m a fan of Mazda’s turbocharged engine, so that alone makes it worth it, not to mention the various other upgrades and niceties you get with the GT.

The CX-50 GT and Meridian trims really showcase the level of luxury Mazda is capable of these days, especially with the turbocharged engine. But if frills don’t excite you, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 GS-L is a solid option for budget-minded buyers. Even in this entry level model, Mazda’s core values and philosophies still shine brightly.


Vehicle Specs
Compact crossover
Engine Size
2.5L normally aspirated four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
187 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
889/1,595 (seats up/down)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Rushabh Shah

Staff Writer

Rushabh is an avid car enthusiast since the day he was born. He’s an experienced detailer and largely does his own vehicle maintenance. On the side, Rushabh can often be found tinkering on his classic Porsche 911SC.

Current Toys: ’97 F355 Spider 6MT, '79 911SC Targa, ’00 M5, '13 M5