Compact SUV buyers have more choices than ever before, and the 2023 crop of small sport utilities has more variety than buyers might expect. Some meet different needs than others, and some defy what you might expect from them based on their badges.
For instance, the 2023 Mazda CX-50 and Hyundai Tucson check many similar boxes. But they bring such different personalities to the market that they’ll each be right for a different set of buyers.
Let’s explore these two very different compact crossovers.
2023 Mazda CX-50
Mazda has long been known for crossovers that handle with a precision normally reserved for sporty sedans. But this year, it’s branching out. The 2023 Mazda CX-50 is a rugged new model with genuine off-road skills. It’s still as crisp and fun as the usual Mazda entry, but higher ground clearance, a firmer suspension, and an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system with an off-road mode mean it will get you to the campsite, too. Prices start at $27,550.
Mazda CX-50 Highlights
Standard AWD: Every CX-50 ships with a standard i-Activ AWD system, including an off-road mode. Hyundai will sell you an AWD-equipped Tucson, but it adds $1,500 to the price. Buying it negates the Hyundai’s price advantage.
Optional turbocharged engine: The CX-50’s standard 4-cylinder engine has the same output as the Tucson’s — 187 horsepower. But at higher trims, Mazda gives its compact SUV more power with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that produces 227-horsepower (or 256 with 93-octane gas). You’d have to change to a pricier hybrid or plug-in hybrid model to get that much power in a Tucson.
Fun to drive: Yes, the CX-50 is something new for Mazda. But it still does well in the things Mazda vehicles always do well. G-Vectoring Control adjusts the power output at each wheel in turns to create a more engaging driving experience than most affordable compact SUVs can manage.
Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the CX-50 models for sale near you
2023 Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson is a refined small crossover with as much power as the CX-50 and a longer warranty. It’s unusually spacious for a small crossover and comes with three years of free regularly scheduled maintenance. Hyundai offers it in a fuel-sipping hybrid or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 33 miles of all-electric range, though prices climb quickly for those models. The basic Tucson has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $26,700.
Hyundai Tucson Highlights
Ten years of warranty coverage: Mazda offers a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty on the CX-50. Hyundai counters with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The comfort of knowing major repairs are covered for up to twice as long is worth a lot.
Three years of free maintenance: Hyundai includes the first three years or 36,000 miles of regularly scheduled maintenance in the price of each of its 2023 vehicles. No other mainstream manufacturer matches that month-to-month expense predictability.
Two hybrid options: They cost a fair bit more, but Hyundai’s two hybrid models are something Mazda can’t match. The Tucson Hybrid gets up to 38 mpg, while the model with the plug-in it can travel 33 miles on electric power alone.
Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Tucson models for sale near you
Identical base power figures, similar mileage with base engines, similar passenger space
The Mazda CX-50 offers a great combination of fun driving on pavement and capable driving off of it. Its available turbocharged engine is more powerful than what’s typical in this class, and its rugged attitude gives off a cool, capable vibe. The Hyundai Tucson is a refined small crossover that’s kind to your monthly budget with its exceptionally long warranty and complimentary maintenance schedule.
They’re very different approaches to the small crossover category and should appeal to different types of shoppers.
|2023 Mazda CX-50||2023 Hyundai Tucson|
|Engine||2.5-liter 4-cylinder||2.5-liter 4-cylinder|
|Horsepower||187 hp @ 6,000 rpm||187 hp @ 6,100 rpm|
|Torque||186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm||182 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Fuel Economy||24 city/30 highway/27 combined mpg||25 city/32 highway/28 combined mpg|
|Also Available||2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder||Hybrid; plug-in hybrid; AWD|
|Basic Warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||10 years/100,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||TBD||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||110.8 inches||108.5 inches|
|Overall Length||185.8 inches||182.3 inches|
|Width||80.8 inches||73.4 inches|
|Height||63.5 inches||65.6 inches|
|Turning Diameter||36.0 feet||38.6 feet|
|Headroom, Front||39.1 inches||40.1 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||38.6 inches||39.5 inches|
|Legroom, Front||41.7 inches||41.4 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||39.8 inches||41.3 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||55.9 inches||57.6 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||53.6 inches||56.0 inches|
|Cargo Volume||31.4/56.3 cubic feet||38.7/80.3 cubic feet|