- Mazda has revealed the 2024 CX-90, a new three-row SUV with standard all-wheel drive.
- It rides on a new longitudinal engine platform and features either a turbocharged inline-six or a four-cylinder plug-in-hybrid powertrain.
- The CX-90 will go on sale in the US this spring, although pricing is not yet available.
A shift is officially underway at Mazda. While the new 2024 CX-90 appears to be just a replacement for the existing CX-9 three-row SUV, the new model represents a bigger change in terms of its underpinnings, its powertrain and its appointments. A new 340-horsepower inline-six and larger footprint take Mazda’s SUV lineup into new realms of power and size, and the CX-90’s design and available features lend even more credence to the brand’s premium aspirations.
New Platforms and Hybrid Powertrains
While Mazda has been pushing the upmarket for a while, the CX-90 clearly sets its sights higher than the CX-9 ever did because of its new platform. It introduces Mazda’s new longitudinal engine architecture, which the company simply calls the “Large Platform,” to the US market. The platform supports a range of new electric powertrains, including a turbocharged 3.3-liter inline-six with 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque that also includes a 48-volt hybrid system. There’s also a plug-in-hybrid setup that produces 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with a 2.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine and a 17.8 kWh battery pack.
All-wheel drive is standard, but Mazda isn’t shy about mentioning the CX-90’s “rear-biased” layout and “rear-wheel drive proportions.” A new eight-speed automatic is standard with both powertrains and is unconventional as it swaps the torque converter for a multi-plate wet clutch setup, an arrangement AMG also uses. With both the inline-six and the PHEV, the electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and transmission, but the plug-in hybrid has a more powerful electric motor and the battery pack should provide a range of around 20–30 miles (Mazda hasn’t released detailed specs yet).
This combination of mechanical components sounds more like a BMW X5 than a Toyota Highlander, and that’s exactly what the CX-90 is all about. It creates a clear distinction between this model—and the two-row CX-70 that will follow on this same platform—and Mazda’s older SUVs. The CX-9, for example, has a transverse engine layout and front-wheel drive roots, like many of its mainstream rivals, and its turbo four engine is less powerful than the CX-90’s inline six. Even so, Mazda promises that the six-cylinder CX-90 will deliver better fuel economy than the CX-9’s EPA-rated 23 mpg combined thanks to its hybrid system.
Elegant Exterior Design
The new platform also changes the look of the CX-90. The dash-to-axle ratio—that is, the amount of body work between the front axle and the dashboard—is commonly seen as a distinguishing feature for luxury cars. This may seem like a subtle change, and Mazda has previously done a good job of styling its cars to disguise the simple transverse engine layout, but you’ll know when you look at the CX-90’s long hood that its new stance suggests something far more elegant and luxury
The CX-90’s grille detailing is slightly different from Mazda’s current model, and its wheel design (up to 21 inches on the top model) and chrome trim on the lower part of the body further emphasize the luxury atmosphere. The top trim, which we assume will be called Signature (Mazda hasn’t detailed pricing or packages), has body-colored trim around the wheel wells, while smaller models have black plastic cladding. Several new colors will be offered, including Rhodium White and a special new shade called Artisan Red that we assume will be an extra-cost option like Mazda’s current Soul Red.
Luxurious Interior Layout
The CX-90 is longer and wider than the CX-9, providing additional interior space for all three rows. Mazda will offer three different seating configurations with room for either six, seven or eight passengers. The extra width allows the third row to fit three people in certain models, and the second row will be offered either as a three-person bench, as two individual captain’s chairs with a pass through the middle, or as a captain’s chair with a fixed console between them.
The CX-90’s third row is certainly more spacious than the CX-9’s, but the floor is still high, meaning adult passengers riding there will find their knees on their chests. There also appears to be more cargo space behind the third row than before, and the rearmost seats fold flat into the floor to expand the cargo area.
Mazda has filled this spacious interior with luxury-grade materials, especially in the top-trim model we sat in. Fabric dashboard trim, intricate stitching, light wood trim and soft leather combine for an ultra-luxurious environment. The lower PHEV model we saw wasn’t quite as opulent but still had nice leather upholstery and a carbon fiber-look finish on the center console.
Pricing and Availability
More information is to come on pricing, features, and trim levels, but if Mazda prices this as competitively as we think it will—perhaps in the low $40,000 range to begin with—the CX-90 could offer the equivalent of real value, too. It will go on sale in the US in the spring of 2023, and the top model may approach $60,000.
The CX-90 seems to fit nicely in the middle between transverse-engine offerings like the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 and longitudinal-engine players like the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE. We look forward to learning more about the CX-90 and, of course, getting behind the wheel, but early signs are promising for Mazda’s new thinking.
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