Home » The 38-MPG Mazda CX-50 Hybrid Gets A Toyota Heart For Only $35,390

The 38-MPG Mazda CX-50 Hybrid Gets A Toyota Heart For Only $35,390

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Hybrid compact crossovers are so hot right now, and it’s not hard to understand why. They’re practical, spacious vehicles that get outstanding fuel economy for their size and require nearly no changes in driving habits over gasoline-powered cars. That explains why almost everyone from Ford to Toyota has something in this segment, and now another manufacturer is throwing its hat into the ring with the 2025 Mazda CX-50 Hybrid.

Having been on sale for a few years in naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms, the Mazda CX-50 is one of my favorite compact crossovers. Sure, the torsion beam rear suspension might not be the most sophisticated setup in the world, but this CUV drives well, its inputs feel great, its styling is razor wire-sharp, and its cabin is actually quite lovely. It’s a great base to start with, although the engineering underneath the hybrid model isn’t necessarily what you’d expect.

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Under the hood of this new hybrid variant sits a rather different powertrain than we’re used to from Mazda. See, the hybrid CX-50 uses Toyota’s hybrid system, so you can almost think of this as filling in the mid-point between a RAV4 Hybrid and a Lexus NX when it comes to niceness. Combustion power comes from a Toyota-sourced 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, likely the exact same one as in a RAV4 Hybrid, seeing as the two share a bore, stroke, output, and compression ratio. Electrification comes from a two-motor eCVT on the front axle and an electric motor out back, fed by a 1.591 kWh nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Combined output? Identical to a RAV4 Hybrid at 219 horsepower.

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Fuel economy is rated at 38 mpg combined, one less than an all-wheel-drive RAV4 Hybrid and one more than an all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V Hybrid and a Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. That puts the electrified CX-50 in good company, right in the mix of the competition on fuel economy, all while offering convincing premium style. Mind you, there is a tradeoff for electrification — two inches of rear legroom simply evaporates along with nearly an inch of rear headroom, the rear seat squab sits 1.2 inches closer to a raised floor, and towing capacity drops to 1,500 pounds. On the plus side, cargo area length with the rear seats up grows by an inch, but it seems that hybridizing the CX-50 required some serious surgery. The whole vehicle itself sits between 1.4 and 2.3 inches taller than a base, combustion-only CX-50, which would explain the hybrid-specific cladding.

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The least-expensive CX-50 Hybrid, the Preferred trim, starts at $35,390 including a $1,420 freight charge, although it does include some decent equipment including half-leatherette seats, an eight-speaker audio system, heated power front seats, a power liftgate, and a wiper de-icer. Stepping up to the $38,820 CX-50 Hybrid Premium trim adds leather seating with an available hybrid-only red colorway, a panoramic moonroof, a Bose stereo, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and satellite radio. Finally, there’s the $41,470 CX-50 Hybrid Premium Plus trim level, which adds 19-inch wheels, a heads-up display, power-folding mirrors, and a few trim upgrades just to make it seem a bit nicer.

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While we’ll have to get our hands on the 2025 Mazda CX-50 Hybrid to see what effects the packaging changes have on the vehicle’s overall practicality, it looks like a more stylish, more upscale alternative to a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid on paper. Expect it to roll into showrooms across the country later this year.

(Photo credits: Mazda)

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BBecker
BBecker
1 day ago

I like the Rav4 styling, it reminds me of the “rugged” SUV look of the ’80s Cherokee with more of that last window and roofline going straight back and doesn’t have that weird boarded up look of the Honda CR-V.

Why would I want a Mazda over a Toyota if it already has a Toyota’s heart?

BobWellington
BobWellington
1 day ago

Now lower it down and make it get 50+ MPG!

Pajamasquid
Pajamasquid
2 days ago

With Subaru also bumming some motors and other bits off of Toyota for their hybrid Forester soon, I wonder what kind of price-gouging we’ll see. I’m thrilled to see tried and true hybrid tech going into vehicles that are less NPC-ish than the Rav and CR-V, anyway.

Chris
Chris
2 days ago

I don’t see Toyota’s hybrid system being a good fit for a Mazda. The way they drone at the same RPM like a CVT while accelerating is extremely irritating and not sporty feeling at all. I have a Honda Accord Hybrid which at least simulates upshifts to prevent that from happening. I hope Mazda at least retunes it to do something like that.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
2 days ago

Autopian if you get a chance to review this i would like to know the fuel tank capacity. Hopefully it is at least 13 gallons one thing that bugs me about hybrids is the gas tank is smaller. So while you are saving money at the pump you are still visiting the gas station just as often.

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
2 days ago
Reply to  Bassracerx

The tank in my 2017 Rav4 Hybrid (previous gen) is almost 15 gallons (56 litres). I don’t know to what extent this CX-50 was designed with the use of Toyota tech in mind from the start. If that is not the case, some packaging compromises might have been made.

Ppnw
Ppnw
2 days ago

Can anyone who has driven this eCVT tell me how it actually feels? You hear all over the internet that its “not a CVT” and actually feels pretty great.. but how does it feel?

Does it simulate gears? Does it feel like a normal torque converter auto?

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
2 days ago
Reply to  Ppnw

similar to a torque converter from a launch you have the electric motor assist so for the first 10mph you kind of get a bit of extra grunt/scoot/torque from the electric motor. Around town it keeps the rpms very low and it doesn’t feel like a rubber band. The transmission is relatively quick to respond to inputs but it depends on what “mode” you have the car in (eco/normal/power) You have to drive a hybrid with intent. Want to save fuel? Press the accelerator as little as you can get away with. Embrace accelerating slowly. Passing or merging? Put your foot ALL THE WAY to the floor, the rpms will climb to the highest and stay there until you let off.

Two things that make CVTs terrible is: lack of torque and slow response. The electric motor gives you the extra torque you need and the Toyota eCVT responds very quickly to even small changes in accelerator input. If you go from less pedal to full throttle the revs climb almost instantly.

Very hard to describe how the toyota E-CVT drives compared to say a nissan sentra/altima cvt but it does feel different. A bit more connected. Toyota has made millions of them so best thing to do is find one and go drive it for yourself.

Jonathan E
Jonathan E
2 days ago
Reply to  Ppnw

It’s a variable transmission. It generates ratio by spinning an electric motor on a planetary gear shared with the ICE. This hums at high throttle but otherwise just… sorta goes. Toyota has been doing these since at least 2004 and they are mechanically very simple, very reliable devices.

Keith Hunt
Keith Hunt
2 days ago
Reply to  Ppnw

@bassracerx said all very well, and I’ll second their take

We have a 2020 RAV4 Hybrid, my first CVT type transmission but the eCVT really is very immediate in response. If kept in “Sport” the throttle is surprisingly snappy

One personal measure of the more immediate response of the eCVT: I’ve largely owned manual transmissions, so prefer being able to keep to a set gear based on the situation. When driving conventional automatics, if I’m in a higher traffic scenario or some circumstance where I don’t want the hesitation of a downshift before it accelerates, I would keep the transmission in a set lower gear, keep the RPMs up so the car was ready to do what I needed it to do more immediately. In my parents CR-V 1.5T with a more conventional CVT, I’ll basically do the same and keep the transmission in a simulated lower “gear” as otherwise there is some hesitation before the vehicle accelerates.

But with our RAV4 Hybrid, I just leave it in general drive mode and don’t bother with simulated gear selections at all – I’ve found it always accelerates very immediately when I need it to, no need to force it to keep the RPMs up in a lower “gear”. The eCVT has the option of simulated gears, but I’ve found less need to really make use of them in day to day driving

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