After weeks of dropping teaser pics and videos, Mazda finally lifted the covers on the CX-90, the new three-row SUV set to serve as the brand’s new flagship.
The 2024 CX-90 rides on an all-new Mazda large vehicle platform that will anchor a handful of other upcoming products — including the CX-70 that will follow it into U.S. showrooms. And it provides a glimpse at the brand’s updated design language.
“We’ve been on a journey, the last few years, to completely change the face of Mazda,” U.S. brand boss Jeff Guyton said during a media backgrounder in Malibu, California, ahead of today’s official public unveiling.
First-ever Mazda PHEV
From the large vehicle platform on up, pretty much everything about the CX-90 is new. That covers everything from the updated infotainment system to the choice of powertrains. Unlike some competitors who offer just one engine package, Mazda has two options here, including its first-ever plug-in hybrid.
That package uses a 2.5-liter inline-4 SkyActiv gas engine paired with an electric drive system — which, Mazda claims, has been “tuned specifically for the U.S.” It has, so far, been selective when it comes to releasing specs, but says the package makes up to 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Depending upon how it’s tuned, that could be quite peppy, Mazda officials pointedly referencing the way electric motors deliver essentially instant torque.
The electric side of the PHEV draws power from a 17.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. That’s expected to deliver somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 miles in EV mode.
Mild hybrid will be Mazda’s most powerful engine ever
The other package makes an identical 369 lb-ft but slightly more ponies, 340 hp, to be precise — making it the most powerful engine Mazda has ever offered.
It’s a mild hybrid, meaning there’s a small motor assist system mounted between a 3.3-liter I-6 gas engine and the X-speed automatic transmission. Again, the “hybrid boost” should translate into reasonably quick off-the-line acceleration. The downside is the need for premium fuel to achieve maximum performance — though the CX-90 can be operated on cheaper regular unleaded.
All versions of the 2024 Mazda CX-90 will feature the automaker’s iActive all-wheel drive. It’s a rear-biased system that will deliver “a sense of control and confidence,” promised program chief Mitsuro Wakiie
Showing off the curves
During the Malibu preview, Mazda made a point of showing off the new CX-90 in its signature Artisan Red. It’s notably darker than the Soul Red Mazda has long preferred. It’s something of a chameleon color, changing its shade depending upon the light and your viewing angle. It can go from a rich, metallic red to near black. And it helps highlight the curvaceous look of the new SUV, according to design director Takanori Tsubaki.
Mazda fans will notice the Japanese automaker is migrating to a slightly different alphanumeric nomenclature as it introduces new models lately. That includes the CX-50, replacing the old CX-5. And the CX-90 is, more or less, a replacement for the old CX-9.
Make that “more,” as it stands taller, wider and longer than the outgoing three-row model, finally providing the sort of room buyers have been seeking in this segment, Mazda officials acknowledged.
“A sense of motion”
It doesn’t entirely abandon the familiar Mazda Kodo Design language, with a bit of a coke bottle shape to the doors and fenders. But CX-90 adopts a more ruggedly upright grille, similar to what the automaker has shown off in Europe with the CX-60, one of the four models that will be based on Mazda’s large vehicle platform.
The three-row crossover’s long hood and “rear-focused cabin” give it a sense of muscularity and, in the words of design chief Tsubaki, “a sense of motion.” Distinctive chrome garnishes on the rockers, along with the black garnishes on the 21-inch diamond-cut wheels add to the feel of luxury.
The overall appearance is much more upscale than the old CX-9 and could help position the CX-90 against more upmarket brands, such as Volvo.
That’s carried over into the cabin, where Tsubaki’s team borrowed from classic Japanese design to create distinctive fabrics and accent materials. There are a variety of subtle details that enhance the feeling of luxury, including the vertical stripe on the ventilated seats shown during the CX-90s media preview.
The broad, horizontal layout of the instrument panel enhances the interior’s feeling of roominess. A new twin-screen display helps add a high-tech touch. But, as with other models in the Mazda line-up, the automaker opts for knobs, buttons and other physical controls, rather than turning everything over to a touchscreen for the infotainment system.
Mazda promises an array of high-tech features, including its advanced driver assistance system, though it’s again saving details, apparently, for the CX-90’s formal public introduction.
Pricing and availability
While the three-row model is the first of the new products based on the large architecture set to reach the U.S. market, it will be followed by a downsized two-row CX-70. American buyers won’t get two other models off that platform, said Guyton, the CX-80 and the CX-60, the latter already available in Europe and some other markets.
Expect the 2024 Mazda CX-90 to formally go on sale in the States this spring. The starting price is expected to come in somewhere in the $40,000 range.