Mazda’s first electric vehicle, the MX-30, left much to be desired with its limited driving range and cramped interior. However, Mazda is on a mission to electrify its entire lineup by 2030, and its second electrified model, the CX-90 PHEV, is a significant improvement. While the MX-30 was designed mainly as a small commuter EV, the CX-90 PHEV caters to a larger audience.
The 2024 Mazda CX-90 now replaces the CX-9 and serves as Mazda’s flagship SUV. Apart from the name change, the CX-90 stands out in the three-row SUV segment with its rear-wheel drive platform and longitudinal engine setup.
The standard CX-90 features a turbocharged inline-six engine, while the plug-in hybrid version combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. In this review, we will focus on the CX-90 PHEV, which generates up to 189 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque from its four-cylinder engine, along with 173 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque from the electric motor. Combined, the CX-90 PHEV offers 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, putting it in a similar performance range as the turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted to the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a wet clutch
Equipped with a 17.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, the CX-90 PHEV can travel up to 26 miles on electric power alone. This means you can easily navigate through city streets in all-electric mode before relying on the engine once the battery is depleted. The battery can be fully charged in approximately two and a half hours using a Level 2 charger. While the CX-90’s electric range is shorter compared to competitors like the Kia Sorento PHEV (32 miles) and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (38 miles), it compensates with more interior space. Additionally, the CX-90 PHEV offers a driving range of up to 490 miles, allowing for long family road trips without worrying about finding charging stations along the way.
On the road, the CX-90 PHEV accelerates impressively for a large SUV, with a 0-60 mph time in the low six-second range. While EV mode may offer slightly less power, it is sufficient for urban driving. Mazda’s focus on creating a more luxurious experience is evident in the CX-90’s interior design, but the four-cylinder engine could sound better under hard acceleration. The transition between gas and EV modes may not be as seamless as expected. It may also take some time for drivers to get used to the shifter’s unique pattern, where pushing up and to the left engages Park, and simply pushing up can result in reverse gear.
Mazda is known for producing enjoyable-to-drive cars, and the CX-90 PHEV is no exception. It offers a sportier feel than rivals like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, with minimal body roll and responsive steering. Overall, the CX-90 maintains the fun-to-drive character of its predecessor, the CX-9, with a slightly more family-friendly design.
Although the CX-90 PHEV has up to eight seats, the third-row legroom and headroom are limited compared to its rivals. Getting in and out of the third row can be cumbersome, and the luggage space behind the third row falls short of competitors as well.
Instead of only competing with brands like Honda and Toyota, Mazda has boldly expressed its intention to move upmarket. Mazda’s lineup stands out with its more luxurious and stylish designs compared to their rivals.
Inside the CX-90, the interior is impressive. It exudes a more luxurious and stylish feel compared to the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander. High-quality materials and a minimalist design contribute to a more upscale experience, bringing the CX-90 closer to the realm of entry-level luxury SUVs. Leather seats are standard, with Nappa leather seats and a fabric-wrapped dashboard available on higher trims. Depending on the selected trim level, there is either a 10.25- or 12.3-inch infotainment display, which can be operated using either a rotary dial or touchscreen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also available, and the CX-90 PHEV comes standard with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV starts at $49,415 and is available in three trim levels: Preferred, Premium, and Premium Plus.
In summary, Mazda has taken what we loved about the CX-9 and elevated it with more style, luxury, and performance. The 2024 CX-90 successfully fulfills Mazda’s goal of moving upmarket, as it feels and looks more premium than its competitors. The availability of a plug-in hybrid powertrain sets it apart from rivals like the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander, making it a winning option for families.
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