2024 Mazda CX-90 Aims High with a Powerful Inline-Six, Elegant Looks
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 U.S. this spring, though pricing is not yet available.
A shift is officially underway at Mazda. While the new 2024 CX-90 would appear to be a mere replacement for the existing CX-9 three-row SUV, this new model represents a bigger change in terms of its underpinnings, its powertrains, and its appointments. A new 340-hp inline-six and a larger footprint take Mazda's SUV lineup into a new realm 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 Powertrains
While Mazda has been pushing upmarket for a while, the CX-90 clearly sets its targets 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 "Large Platform," to the U.S. market. This platform supports a new range 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 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 is not 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 in that it swaps out a 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 the transmission, but the plug-in hybrid has a more powerful electric motor and its battery pack should provide somewhere around 20–30 miles of electric range (Mazda isn't releasing detailed specs quite yet).
This combination of mechanical components sounds much more BMW X5 than Toyota Highlander, and that's entirely the point of the CX-90. It establishes a clear difference 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 instance, has a transverse-engine layout and front-wheel-drive roots, like many of its mainstream competitors, and its turbo-four engine is considerably less powerful than the CX-90's inline-six. Even still, Mazda promises that the CX-90's six-cylinder will provide better fuel economy than the CX-9's 23 mpg combined EPA rating thanks to its hybrid system.
Elegant Exterior Design
The new platform also changes the CX-90's look. The dash-to-axle ratio—that is, the amount of bodywork between the front axle and the dashboard—is commonly viewed as a differentiating characteristic for luxury cars. This may sound like a subtle change, and Mazda had previously done a good job of styling its cars to disguise their humble transverse-engine layouts, but you'll know as you look at the CX-90's long hood that its new stance suggests something a lot more elegant and upscale.
The CX-90's grille detailing is a bit different than on Mazda's current models, and its wheel designs (up to 21 inches on the top model) and chrome trim on the lower body further the luxurious vibe. The top trim, which we assume will be called Signature (Mazda hasn't detailed the pricing or packages), has body-colored trim around the wheel wells, while the lesser models have black plastic cladding. A few new colors will be offered, including Rhodium White and a special new hue 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 extra interior room for all three rows. Mazda will offer three different seating configurations with space for either six, seven, or eight passengers. The extra width allows for the third row to accommodate 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 in the middle, or as captain's chairs with a fixed console between them.
The CX-90's third row is definitely more spacious than the CX-9's, but the floor is still high, meaning adult passengers riding back there 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 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 inside. Fabric dashboard trim, intricate stitching, light-colored wood trim, and soft leather combine for a remarkably upscale environment. A lesser PHEV model we looked at wasn't quite as rich but still had nice leather upholstery and carbon-fiber-look trim on the center console.
Pricing and Availability
Lots more information is still to come on pricing, features, and trim levels, but if Mazda prices this as competitively as we think—possibly in the low-$40,000 range to start—the CX-90 could offer a real value equation, too. It will go on sale in the U.S. in the spring of 2023, and top models may approach $60,000.
The CX-90 appears to deftly straddle the middle ground between transverse-engine offerings such as the Acura MDX and Infiniti QX60 and longitudinal-engine players 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 are promising for Mazda's new mindset.
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