CX-90 Impressive Addition in Competitive SUV Market

CHATHAM, Mass. – I sampled the all-new 2024 Mazda CX-90v a few months ago during the annual #IMPA #2023SpringBrake and came away impressed following the 15-minute drive. Mazda calls the CX-90 its flagship, a title it deserves, especially the fully equipped PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) Premium Plus I recently drove for week.

The three-row, seven-passenger vehicle fits into the larger end of the medium sport-utility vehicle (SUV) segment where it is more than ready to do battle with the established brands (as well as acquitting itself well against premium/luxury medium SUVs!).

And like all Mazda vehicles, the CX-90 was designed and engineered with the driver in mind. Driving performance, which encompasses chassis prowess as much as powertrain oomph, is a company standard; the CX-90 delivers on this commitment.

Hybrid motivation

Under the hood is the new e-Skyactiv PHEV powertrain, tuned specifically for the North American market. Working in combination are Mazda’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine along with a 100KW electric motor and 17.8 kWh high-capacity battery.

The combined output of the engine and motor is 323 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque, with the engine providing 189 hp and 192 lb.-ft. and the motor adding its 173 and 199 respectively.

The roomy SUV can travel up to 26 miles on electricity alone, then switching to the gasoline-fueled engine (with modest recharging) to continue driving. Overall, the CX-90 is rated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency at 25 miles per gallon on gas, 56 MPGe (combination).

I routinely topped these figures, taking advantage of the level-2 charger Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox Home in my garage, to keep the CX-90 charged each day.

An eight-speed automatic transmission specifically designed to work with a hybrid powertrain backs up the engine/motor combo before feeding power into the standard i-Activ all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

The new platform is all Mazda

The CX-90 is built on an all-new large platform that features a front-engine, rear-wheel-bias (within the AWD’s electronics) longitudinal layout to emphasize the company’s commitment to driving performance.

The new vehicle is equipped with Kinematic Posture Control, which first debuted on the MX-5 Miata, a software feature that suppresses body lift on tight corners to enhance the grip and allows all occupants to maintain a natural posture.

The power-assisted anti-lock braking system (ABS) features ventilated rotors at all four wheels with 13.7 inches (340mm), the rears’ 13.8 inches (350mm). The system is aided by electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist.

The 21×9-inch machine-cut alloy wheels are shod with 275/45R21 M+S (mud and snow) tires.

All these components along with the e-Skyactiv powertrain translate into a large vehicle (200.8-inches long, 78.5-in. wide, 68.7-in. tall, 5,243 pounds) which drives smaller – a very good thing! The CX-90 is not a sports car, but despite its size and interior room, it handles roads – both twisting ones and bumpy ones – with aplomb. Again, just like all Mazda SUVs I have sampled (the CX-5,  CX-30 and CX-50).

The ride is very controlled, whether the SUV is empty or has four adults with 10-days’ worth of luggage in the back. And when I had this load, no one noticed or commented on how aggressively I drove the roads on Cape Cod, a result of Mazda’s commitment to making its new SUV something I wanted to drive.

All the ADAS you can imagine

The Mazda’s I have sampled during the past few years have impressed me with its inclusion of a comprehensive group of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) as well as a heads-up display which includes ADAS warnings like blind-spot intrusion (Mazda, Hyundai, Kia and Genesis being the only vehicle HUDs I have experienced with this safety feature).

The ADAS list for the new CX-90 includes: 360º surround-view monitor; blind-spot monitoring and warning; lane-keep assist with road-departure prevention; emergency lane keep; front cross-traffic alert with front cross-traffic braking; Mazda radar cruise control with stop&go; rear cross-traffic alert; back-up monitor; secondary collision-reduction system; smart brake support (Automatic Emergency Braking – AEB) with turn-across-path braking, and traffic-sign recognition.

Comfort, convenience and amenity-filled cabin

Inside the CX-90 is pure Mazda, instantaneously familiar to anyone who has driven the Japanese maker’s recent vehicles. This means well thought-out location of switchgear, displays (especially the 12.3-inch one mounted in the Mazda dashboard well to be less intrusive, yet still perfectly situated for the driver’s vision) and controls.

This also means the piano-key controls for the three-zone automatic climate-control system is in the center of the dash for intuitive, easy operation.

A large, rotary command control is abutted by specific buttons for navigation (standard on this model, radio/media, favorites — can be radio stations, satellite-radio channels, navigation locations) and “home” for the main display. In addition just behind these controls are a media-volume rotary knob and another switch to change media sources.

These are are within easy reach of the driver, sitting in the center console behind the transmission selector. all sit in the console behind the transmission selector.

The infotainment system, boosted by a 12-speaker Bose® sound system, in addition to navigation has Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Bluetooth mobile connectivity, voice command and AM/FM radio.

Seating, all covered in Nappa leather, features eight-way power adjustment (including lumbar as well as two-position memory for the driver) heat and ventilation up front; second-row captain’s chairs with heat, armrests, center walk through and reclining seatbacks, and room for three in the third row.

All of the seven occupants have cup holders and access to USB ports for powering their mobile devices.

It is an extremely comfortable and roomy environment, with lots of storage space (especially with the third row folded). I drove multiple groups of people during my time with the CX-90 and all commented positively on its comfort and ease of entry/egress.

Bottom line

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 range covers 11 different trims and three electrified (mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid) versions beginning with the CX-90 3.3 Turbo Select at $39,595 and progressing to the CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus at $59,950.

The version I drove, the CX-90 PHEV Premium Plus, totaled $58,920 which included $595 for the Rhodium White Premium paint, and a $1,375 destination fee.

A price under $60,000 for a vehicle of this caliber and this much standard equipment, is a tremendous value and a sure-fire challenger to the name brands in the medium-SUV segment.

Next week TBR Drives the surprising Chevrolet Trax sub-compact SUV.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.