2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition Adds Off-Road Capability & Tough Looks

CX-50 adds all-terrain tires for off-pavement driving, plus tough-guy cosmetic changes to look the part.

When Mazda launched the 2023 CX-50, it said the crossover was developed for North America and aimed at our rugged and outdoorsy shoppers. But you can’t have a crossover for the rugged and outdoorsy without adding a special off-road trim that combines a few useful mechanical changes with some tough and burly appearance tweaks.

So here’s the CX-50 Meridian Edition, Mazda’s own vision of an off-road-spec trim.

CX-50 Adds Rough Roads to Mazda Resume

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

When we drove the CX-50, our Motors Editor Bryon Dorr said that the Mazda “really shines” when you’re on the pavement, as you’d expect from a Mazda. The automaker has built its brand around that particular set of skills.

Off the pavement, he said that the off-road capability of the CX-50 suffered from a stiff suspension and not enough wheel travel.

With the Meridian Edition, the CX-50 could help remedy that first problem just a bit while adding to what the CX-50 offers in a few other off-road areas.

All-Terrain Tires Biggest Mechanical Upgrade

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

The main mechanical change is the addition of Falken all-terrain tires. Mounted to 18-inch alloys, these new tires should give the crossover more grip on the trail. With a zoom and enhance on Mazda’s photos, the tires look to be the Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail.

Falken says these tires are designed with a rugged sidewall to help protect the tire from damage on the trail. The tires also wear a three-peak mountain snowflake rating. That means they’re ready for driving in severe snow conditions, should you decide to head to ski country as part of your off-road adventure.

Where the new tires might help the ride is those stronger sidewalls. CX-50 Meridian Edition wears 225/60R18 rubber, while other turbocharged CX-50s wear 245/45R20 all-season tires. The extra sidewall height should work to cushion the ride when you’ve left the pavement, at the expense of some peak cornering ability.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

Standard AWD & Turbo Power

The Meridian Edition will come with Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system as standard. Along with a six-speed automatic transmission, it gets a 2.5L Skyactiv turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

That means 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque if you use 93 octane, or 227 and 310 on the more affordable 87.

New Trim, Special Interior

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

To make it look tougher, Mazda starts the CX-50 Meridian Edition with a new headlight garnish. It’s a small trim piece that goes around the light. The trim might give the CX-50’s lamps some extra protection against tree branches, but it’s likely minimal.

The matte black hood graphic is the off-road-special hot ticket this year, just ask Subaru. The purpose is to reduce glare into the eyes of the driver from the hood, and they do accomplish that while looking like a football player at the same time. Side rocker panel changes are also meant to give the CX-50 some extra protection.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition: Options & Pricing

2023 Mazda CX-50 Meridian Edition
(Photo/Mazda)

Mazda is offering the Meridian Edition with just two paint choices, Polymetal Gray and Zircon Sand. Both colors will get a new Terracotta leather interior with black accents.

An available Apex Package doesn’t refer to clipping corners on the way to the trail. It’s actually a set of roof rack crossbars and a new roof platform, along with splash guards at all four wheels. Mazda doesn’t advertise how much weight the new roof platform can hold, but they are selling a two-person roof-mounted tent to attach to it for camping your crossover.

The 2023 CX-50 2.5 Turbo Meridian Edition starts at $39,950, making it third from the top of the extensive CX-50 trim offering. The Apex Package adds $1,235 to that price. The CX-50 Meridian should arrive at dealers soon.

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Evan Williams
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Evan has been drooling over cars since the time he learned to walk. Since then he's worked on controlling the drooling and expanded his interests to include hiking, cycling, and kayaking. He went to school for engineering but transitioned into a more satisfying career and has been writing automotive and outdoors news for nearly a decade