2024 Mazda CX-90
Mazda has produced a three-row family vehicle since the 1990s. From a minivan to the CX-9, families can get an enthusiast-bred vehicle that can take them places with plenty of their stuff to go.
However, there is a push at Mazda to go upmarket to capture a consumer looking to spend more for a better vehicle. The 2024 CX-90 is a step towards achieving this ambitious move towards a premium status.
It was announced recently that the CX-90 will replace the CX-9 in the lineup. While the move makes sense to retain one three-row vehicle in the Mazda lineup, we were wondering whether this is the right vehicle to fulfill that space in the market.
From outside appearances, it looks the part. Mazda’s KODO -Soul of Motion design language is apparent up front, but with a different approach. The front end is flatter than its stablemates, while exuding a luxurious texture in the grille and headlamp units. The profile is more formal with a longer roofline and gentler slope of the rear glass area. There is more glass overall, especially on the C-pillar. The rear end has larger taillamp units that stretch further horizontally towards the center of the tailgate. Each of these elements were designed for the CX-90’s upmarket ambitions.
Our tester is the Premium Plus trim package, which adds more chrome in the appropriate areas and set of 21-inch alloy wheels. The front fender badge also points to what lies underneath the hood. In our case, it is the PHEV driveline – the first plug-in hybrid offered by Mazda.
If you are looking for Mazda’s ambitions to move upmarket, step inside the CX-90’s cabin. Our Premium Plus tester offers the brand’s highest level of luxury in its history. You are treated to soft touchpoints, handsome black-and-tan leather, and an elevated feel overall.
It starts with a new 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster that is customizable in a few places. That also includes the Active Driving Display shown on the windshield. The transmission now uses a shift-by-wire method through its stubby actuator on the center console. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen now includes wireless smartphone mirroring. All of the switches and controls were also elevated to improve the overall user experience.
The front seats are supportive, but on the firm side. Most bodies will get comfortable up front. Our Premium Plus tester came with captain’s chairs for the second row. They fold and slide to make room for third row access. In all, seven passengers can be accommodated inside the CX-90.
Cargo space is generous behind the third row of seats, starting with 15.9 cubic feet. If you fold down the 60/40 split third row seats, that space expands to 40.1 cubic feet. With all seats folded down, you have a maximum space of 75.2 cubic feet.
Our particular tester is powered by the first plug-in hybrid driveline in Mazda’s history. It starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Combined, it yields up to 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission is connected both the electric and gasoline motors, as it sends power to all four wheels.
Power delivery is smooth no matter the source. You will find solid acceleration without any hesitation or unnecessary friction from the driveline. Cruising is smooth and quiet. As for fuel economy, we averaged 36.5 MPG.
In order for a vehicle to be deemed luxurious, the driving experience must match the owner’s expectations. In the CX-90, those expectations are matched with a smooth ride and excellent road behavior. Handling is very controlled with solid maneuverability.
The steering system is very good with a solid feeling on-center and in tighter turns. It might surprise how well it does in tight maneuvers. Brake pedal feel is solid with good response. The CX-90 turned in solid stops in normal and panic situations.
Pricing for the 2024 Mazda CX-90 starts at $39,595. There are three choices of engines, including the plug-in hybrid we reviewed here and two in-line six-cylinder engines. PHEV models start from $47,445. The CX-90 is available in eight trim levels, plus three PHEV models. Our PHEV Premium Plus came with a sticker price of $58,920.
The CX-90 is another addition to the growing mid-size three-row SUV segment. Its competitors include the Toyota Highlander and Grand Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Volkswagen Atlas, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Ford Explorer. You can also add more premium competitors, such as the Infiniti QX60, Acura MDX, Genesis GV80, Buick Enclave, Lincoln Aviator, Cadillac XT6, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi Q8, Defender 130, Volvo XC90, and BMW X5.
By including the more premium choices among all competitors point to one thing: Mazda is serious about positioning the CX-90 in a more premium vehicle space. If you are upwardly mobile and want to reward yourself with something for you and your family – this is your SUV!
Credits: CarSoup Editors