With Mazda being a relatively small automaker, prototype sightings are few and far between. The CX-5 is the most important Zoom-Zoom model of them all if we're strictly talking about the sales volume it generates. A total of 361,051 units were delivered in a pandemic-impacted 2020 when demand for the crossover dropped by 18.7 percent compared to the year before.
The second-generation model has been around since late 2016 and it appears Mazda is testing prototypes of the new model with the production body hiding under thing camouflage. Our colleagues at The Fast Lane received photos from a reader who stumbled upon the next CX-5 in southern California riding on large two-tone alloy wheels.
Some would be tempted to say it's more of a facelift rather than the next-gen model and that's understandable given the subtle design evolution. However, look closer and you'll notice the quarter glass is larger than before and the fuel cap is no longer positioned right next to the corner of the taillight. The rear doors look a smidge longer while the plastic body cladding on the wheel arches seems bigger.
Looking at the front fascia, the grille is less dominant than before and is flanked by slimmer LED headlights. The hood has prominent lines and a fairly chunky bulge, but the overall appearance hasn't changed that much. That holds true for the rear end as well, although the taillights seem to be extending more on the tailgate compared to the outgoing CX-5.
There's a lot of speculation surrounding the third-gen model, with some saying it will be renamed CX-50 to better reflect its increase in size. A juicy report originating from Japan suggests Mazda’s engineers are switching the crossover to the new rear-wheel-drive platform, with an inline-six engine to boot. One of the six-cylinder mills is expected to be a diesel, while smaller 2.5-liter powertrains are allegedly in the offing as well and at least one of them will be hybridized.
Take these details with a heavy dose of salt as Mazda hasn't said a word about the direction it will take with the CX-5 replacement. Since the camouflage doesn't appear to be extensive, a reveal could take place before the end of the year or early 2022. Chances are it will go on sale in the United States for the 2023 model year.