Update: A Mazda representative confirmed that the switch to all-wheel drive for its 2022-model-year SUVs is only for the US market. Details for the automaker's upcoming large SUV platform will be shared at a later date.
Mazda is certainly in the news right now. The refreshed 2022 CX-5 just debuted for the US market with an extremely subtle facelift. Additionally, Mazda announced the CX-5 – and all its CX-branded SUVs – would feature all-wheel drive as standard equipment. So why is Mazda also announcing a rear-wheel-drive SUV coming for 2022?
That's the question we come to after seeing this report from Australia-based Drive. The outlet says the first of Mazda's next-generation SUVs will arrive next year, utilising a rear-wheel-drive-based platform versus the front-wheel-drive-based setup on current models. The word apparently comes from Vinesh Bhindi, managing director for Mazda Australia so it's not a sketchy source by any means. According to the report, Bhindi confirmed the first of the company's new large-platform SUVs was anticipated to arrive in 2022, but didn't mention a specific model. Drive speculates it will be the next-generation CX-5, possibly called the CX-50.
Gallery: 2022 Mazda CX-5
It's entirely possible that plans for Australia differ from those in the United States or elsewhere, though it seems very strange to release a facelifted model and a next-generation model in the same year. If CX-50 is the name for the new SUV, it's conceivable that Mazda could offer it alongside the CX-5. There's also the issue of Mazda announcing standard all-wheel-drive for its SUVs in 2022, but also announcing a new rear-wheel-drive model. We suspect there's some basic signal-crossing happening here, so we contacted Mazda USA for some clarification. We'll jump in with an update when we hear back.
Aside from adopting a chassis that's rear-drive based, Mazda's next-generation SUV platform will hold a new inline-six engine. Details of the powertrain are still under wraps, but with a north-south layout under the bonnet sending power to rear wheels, it sure sounds like Mazda is seeking to regain some of its zoom-zoom history. Whether or not it's enough to give the CX-5 a sporty reputation remains to be seen, but if this new report is accurate, we could get our first taste as early as next year.