After a ton of anticipation and rumors on the web, the all-new 2024 Mazda CX-90 has finally dropped cover, and it does not disappoint. Mazda's first rear-wheel drive-based platform vehicle for the states is going to make a big splash stateside as it replaces the much-lauded CX-9. Mazda's intent was to go upscale and premium, and it looks like the CX-90 will fulfill those intentions and then some.
Not only does it showcase a new design, but it's also bigger, more powerful, and more efficient. The CX-9 that it replaces has been on the market largely unchanged since 2016. That vehicle was not only wonderful to look at but also remarkably impressive to drive. The only real issue consumers and critics had with it was the lack of third-row space. That, and more, get addressed in the new CX-90. Let's take a closer look.
The Next Generation of Mazda Style
We happen to think that the current stable of Mazda vehicles is collectively the best-looking mainstream. automobiles made today. Their design language has held up well over time (except for the now-gone CX-3, replaced by the much better-looking CX-30). The CX-90 doesn't completely depart from Mazda's Kodo ("Soul of Motion") design language but evolves it. The nose is long and houses the longitudinally-mounted engine. Overhangs are short, and both front and rear fascias are blunt and vertical. The angle of the front windshield is aggressive. The greenhouse is definitely longer and bigger than before, making even more room for occupants in row three.
The grille is beautiful with a brand new and more intricate vertical mesh pattern in black, framed by chrome with outer edge detailing. It's flanked by deeply recessed headlights that give the front end more dimension. The lower fascia has deep intakes at the edges and a chrome bar at the base of the large center intake. Mazda has given it just enough style to look premium without overdoing it. Very nice, indeed.
Although there is more adornment on the body (a front fender badge with the engine denoted and chrome trim on the rocker panel), there are no overdone styling elements like deep cut lines or creases. That chrome trim is totally international, as CX-90's designer was clear that "it's elegant styling." While we're not huge fans of chrome, it's tastefully done here. The taillights are more ornate versions of the ones found on the CX-60, and we'd also go so far as to say the back end looks somewhat BMW-ish, not a bad thing at all.
Not to be upstaged by the excellent exterior design, the powertrain details are pretty impressive. The CX-90 gets two available powertrains, the most prominent of which is a plug-in hybrid that pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor. The second is a turbocharged 3.3-liter inline six-cylinder with a 48-volt mild-hybrid assist motor.
The PHEV four-cylinder delivers 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque, and the six-cylinder is good for 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. Both of those figures are significantly more than the current CX-9's turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 227 horsepower. We don't think it's a stretch to say that the CX-90 will be truly rewarding to drive because we love the CX-9. Hell, we own one, so we should know.
The Interior is Premium and Truly Unique
As good as current Mazda interiors are, the CX-90 levels them up to the Nth degree. The linear and detailed dashboard and the wide infotainment design carry over from the excellent CX-60. Instead of a giant, distracting and control-heavy touchscreen, Mazda continues to go with more physical controls and a simple but large screen. It's a smart approach for a company that focuses more on driving than on massive screens.
The top trim CX-90 gets fancy gray fabric on the dashboard and door panels that employ a hanging stitch pattern that's inspired by traditional Japanese weaving and hand book-binding. The 12.3-inch instrument panel is fully digital with an analog look. The infotainment system uses a center console-mounted controller, and the screen uses touch controls for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The interior on higher trim levels also has fine wood trim that departs from most wood types we've seen in most other premium vehicles. It's reflective, light in color, and textured, and it appears to mate very well with the CX-90's grey fabric. The presence of physical controls like a traditional gearshift knob and infotainment controller are well-integrated into those wood trim pieces.
In terms of space, we don't have dimensions yet, but Mazda promises that it will be more spacious than the current CX-9, especially with improvements in the third row. While it's probably not as big as a Kia Telluride or a Volkswagen Atlas, it should give Mazda buyers what they've been waiting for. In terms of fuel economy, details are forthcoming. We do know that the six-cylinder will provide better gas mileage than the outgoing CX-9's 23 mpg combined, and the plug-in hybrid should be even more efficient. The 17.8-kWh battery pack comes from the Mazda MX-30 R-EV and provides between 20 and 40 miles of all-electric range.
The CX-90 benefits from new independent suspension with double wishbones in front and multilink in back. It also gets what's known as Mazda's "Kinematic Posture Control" that applies a well-timed and specifically targeted brake pressure to keep the CX-90's body roll under control. Towing capacity also jumps and significantly so. The CX-9 could tow 3,500 pounds, but the new CX-90 will increase that by 1,500 pounds to an even 5,000. That's on par with the Acura MDX, the Infiniti QX60, and the Hyundai Palisade.
The CX-90 will debut in showrooms as soon as this spring, but no pricing has been announced. It should start above $40,000 and approach $60,000 in higher PHEV trims. We can't wait to experience it.