Mazda has just introduced a new crossover, but this one is a bit different than the rest of the brand's current lineup. Rather than sleek and stylish – like the CX-30 – the CX-50 boasts rugged looks and will extend the brand experience to off-road, according to the automaker. Arriving early next year and built at Mazda's new shared Alabama plant, Mazda says that it will offer "an off-road driving experience that is engaging, fun, and uniquely Mazda."

Blunted, squarish structures take the place of complex curves outside. The very wide and chunky grille gives the CX-50 an imposing presence. The lines are backed up with meaty grey cladding flares, gloss black exterior trim, and even a matte black hood decal as an available option. Up top, a massive roof rack platform sits above Mazda's first panoramic roof, meant to let you see even more of the outdoors. Mazda said that it will have a strengthened roof for gear on the top rack.

Inside, Mazda has kept most of its usual elements including the HMI controller for the infotainment system and horizontal slats running side to side on the dash. Shown during the reveal were dark saddle-coloured leather seats with matching trim on the dashboard while the seats themselves feature black contrasting accents.

Off-road drive mode features include automatically turning on the brake hold for hills as well as raising idle RPM so that when you hit the gas you don't roll back before getting into the engine's torque. Torque converter slip is also adjusted and Mazda says that tweaks to the same G-Vectoring that helps turn-in when cornering on pavement let the vehicle turn in with more confidence and less oversteer on slick dirt.

Mazda says that the CX-50 will deliver the brand's trademark feel on pavement in addition to its newfound off-pavement abilities. The reason for the split, Mazda says, is because it knows that most camping comes at the end of hundreds of km of pavement driving, followed by some mountain roads, and then a few final kilometres of trail.

A pair of 2.5L four-cylinder engines will be offered, one with a turbo and one without. Mazda didn't give power figures, but these are likely to be the same 187 hp with 186 lb-ft and 250 hp with 320 lb-ft that those engines offer in other applications. Electrification, including a traditional hybrid, will follow down the road. Expect more details, including pricing, features, and driver assistance, early next year.