- 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 is equipped with 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.
The shift is officially underway at Mazda. While the new 2024 CX-90 will appear to be merely a replacement for the existing CX-9 three-row SUV, the new model represents a bigger change in terms of its foundation, powertrain and designation. A new 340-horsepower inline-six and a larger tread 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 Platform and Hybrid Powertrain
While Mazda has been pushing upmarket for a while, the CX-90 is clearly setting its targets higher than the CX-9 because of its new platform. This introduced Mazda’s new longitudinal engine architecture, which the company calls “Large Platform”, to the US market. The platform underpins a new line of electrified 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 making 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with the 2.5-liter inline-four petrol engine and 17.8 kWh battery pack.
All-wheel drive is standard, but Mazda isn’t shy about calling out 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 arrangement, a setup that AMG also uses. With the inline-six and PHEV, the electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and transmission, but the plug-in hybrid has a more powerful electric motor and its battery pack should provide an electric range of around 20–30 miles (Mazda hasn’t released detailed specifications yet).
This combination of mechanical components sounds more like the BMW X5 than the Toyota Highlander, and that’s exactly what the CX-90 is all about. This establishes a clear difference between this model — and the two-row CX-70 that will follow the same platform — and Mazda’s older SUV. The CX-9, for example, has a transverse engine layout and front-wheel drive roots, like many of its main competitors, and its turbo-four engine is far more powerful than the CX-90’s six-cylinder engine. Even so, Mazda promises that the six-cylinder CX-90 will provide better fuel economy than the CX-9’s combined EPA rating of 23 mpg thanks to its hybrid system.
Elegant Exterior Design
The new platform also changes the look of the CX-90. Dashboard-to-axle ratio—that is, the amount of bodywork between the front axle and dashboard—is usually viewed as a distinguishing characteristic for luxury cars. This might sound like a subtle change, and Mazda has previously done a good job styling its cars to disguise their simplistic transverse engine layout, but you’ll know from the moment you see the CX-90’s long hood that its new demeanor says something. much more elegant and luxurious.
The CX-90’s grille details differ slightly from current Mazda models, and its wheel design (up to 21 inches on the top model) and chrome trim on the underbody further add to the luxury feel. The top trim, which we assume will be called Signature (Mazda hasn’t gone into details on pricing or packages), has body-colored trim around the wheel wells, while the smaller model has black plastic cladding. Several new colors will be offered, including Rhodium White and a new custom hue called Artisan Red which we assume will be a cost option like Mazda’s current Soul Red.
Luxury Interior Layouts
The CX-90 is longer and wider than the CX-9, giving all three rows extra interior space. Mazda will offer three different seating configurations with room for six, seven or eight passengers. The extra width allows the third row to seat three people in select models, and the second row will be offered as a three-person bench, as two individual captain’s seats with a central pass-through, or as captain’s seats with a fixed console between them.
The CX-90’s third row is noticeably wider than the CX-9, but it’s still floor high, meaning adult passengers riding in the back will find their knees in their chests. There also appears to be more cargo space behind the third row than before, and the rearmost seats fold flat to the floor to expand cargo area.
Mazda has filled this spacious interior with luxury-class materials, especially in the top-trim model we sat inside. Fabric dashboard trim, intricate stitching, light wood trim and soft leather combine for an exceptional high-end environment. The lesser PHEV model we saw wasn’t quite as rich but still had nice leather upholstery and carbon fiber look trim on the center console.
Pricing and Availability
There’s a lot more information to come on price, features, and trim levels, but if Mazda prices this as competitively as we think—probably in the low $40,000 range to start—the CX-90 could offer a real value equivalent as well. It will go on sale in the US in spring 2023, and the top model may be closer to $60,000.
The CX-90 seems to deftly straddle the middle ground between transverse engine offerings such as the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 and longitudinal engine performers such as 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 promise Mazda’s new mindset.