Home » 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Review: A Big SUV Takes A Big Swing At Luxury

2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Review: A Big SUV Takes A Big Swing At Luxury

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I had a moment when I was unloading this white 2024 Mazda CX-90 outside my place when I noticed a couple—older than me, maybe mid-50s, stylishly dressed—kind of hanging around and staring at it. Now, here in New York, you have to call your shots carefully when you talk to strangers on the street, because we’re predisposed against that sort of thing. Evidently, they decided it’d be worth it. “Say, what is that thing?”, the man asked me.

I told him. And what followed surprised even me: “Can I take a look inside?”

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Being the gregarious Texan import and evangelist for Good Cars that I am, I, of course, obligated. “Say, this is nice,” he said, drawing out that last word while he hooted and whistled. “I have a Land Rover but it’s in the shop all the damn time. I didn’t know these existed. I should take a look at this instead.” (Mazda, if this interaction did in fact turn into a sale, you’re welcome.)

This, reader, is what’s known in the business as a “conquest.” And it’s exactly what Mazda hopes to do with its newest, biggest, most expensive and most luxurious SUV ever. The CX-90 is Mazda’s most important car in a long time, a demonstration of where it wants to go with style and technology—especially in plug-in hybrid form like my tester—and most crucially for the Japanese brand, price.

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Will Mazda’s luxury push actually work? It’s too early to call it based on one car, but the CX-90 is good enough that it proves the concept. Now, we just need its vibes to trickle down to the rest of the lineup.

[Full Disclosure: Mazda loaned me this CX-90 PHEV with a full tank of gas for a week.] 

The Basics

The CX-90 is a large crossover SUV that’s new for the 2024 model year. It replaces the old, similarly sized CX-9, and follows a similar concept to that vehicle with the “luxury” dial turned way up.

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It used to be that when a car brand wanted to launch an “upscale flagship” vehicle, it was a big luxury sedan (or maybe some kind of supercar.) We live in an SUV world now, so increasingly the standard-bearers are large crossovers like this one.

The CX-90 isn’t just a big car; it’s a big deal for Mazda. After years of fits and starts, it represents the actual execution of the small, independent Japanese brand’s longstanding plan to become more premium. See, Mazda can’t compete with the likes of Toyota and Honda on volume, so it’s going to try and compete on profit margins instead. Its last few crop of cars started moving this way (see the turbocharged Mazda 3 hatch, for example) but as nice as they were, they were a bit lacking in the powertrain department. The inline-six is meant to fix that, and the plug-in hybrid tech tested here should build a bridge to a more electrified future.

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So the CX-90 is the coming-out party for a Mazda that offers nicer everything: interiors, paint, engines, tech, you name it. It’s going to be more focused on America with lots of crossover options. So far, the approach seems to be working. Great. Whatever it takes to pay for the next Miata.

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In America, the CX-90 can be had with two different engine options (a new 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six or a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated hybrid four-cylinder) across a staggering 11 different trim levels. This tester was the PHEV Premium Plus, sitting at the top of the PHEV range. All-wheel-drive is standard on the CX-90 and the only gearbox option is an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Price: $47,445 starting for PHEV; $56,950 for Premium Plus

Power: 323 hp and 369 lb-ft

Battery (Hybrid): 17.8-kWh

EPA Fuel Economy: 25 MPG (Mazda estimate)

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Drive: All-wheel drive

Curb Weight: 5,243 pounds

Body Style: Five-door SUV

How Does It Look?

On the whole, the CX-90 is seriously Not Bad. It’s tough to make a big crossover look like anything; most of them end up being just blobs. (If you lopped that enormous grille off the BMW X7, for example, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from anything else in that class.) The big Mazda ends up being handsome, if indistinctive; it’s not as bold as the current Mazda 3 hatch, for example, which is deeply polarizing but a win in my book.

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The greenhouse is big, the proportions are balanced enough and the accents over the front wheel arches are a nice touch. My tester’s bland white color didn’t really do it any favors. Mazda offers some far more interesting options for the CX-90, like two shades of red (including Soul Red Crystal Metallic, one of the better reds anyone’s making right now) and Platinum Quartz Metallic, which is a really unique and understated choice. Any of those are better. I dunno, “white three-row crossover” just screams “minivan” to me. And you’re buying a car like this explicitly because you don’t want the minivan. 

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The point is, the CX-90 is visually appealing enough, even if it can’t match the Kia Telluride, arguably the reigning design champion in this segment. I think a lot of the CX-90 is aimed directly at that car, in fact, since that’s been an upmarket game-changer of its own for the Korean brand.

How About The Inside?

Okay, now we’re talking. The “understated” vibe carries on inside the CX-90, but this is where it really feels like Mazda did its homework.

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It’s a very nice interior, and extremely convincing for this price tag. Lots of soft-touch materials across the dash, high-grade leather, brushed aluminum and nice attention to detail on the switches and buttons—which it does have. If that’s less your jam, other options have maple wood accents and a fabric-stitch pattern on the dash; I’d go with that, and a lighter color, over the dark leather in my tester, but only out of personal preference.

It’s refreshing, in 2023, to sit in a car where the design ethos wasn’t just “Screen.” Sure, the CX-90 has one of those, but it’s a tastefully done landscape 12.3-inch infotainment setup that emphasizes functionality over screen supremacy. (Lower trims feature a similar 10.3-inch screen.) Also appealing on my tester was the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster; tastefully done, all of it.

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Seating is a big deal on the CX-90. If you’ve got kids to haul, Mazda’s got options for you. It only comes in three-row form, but the way it does it varies from model to model. It’s so complicated that I’m going to cheat here and just show you Mazda’s description instead:

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See? I’m not writing all that out. I have other stuff to do today. If you get the second-row captain’s chairs, like my tester had, they can be heated and cooled. I told you this thing was nice! I will say I didn’t care for the little mushroom-toggle that passes for a gear selector; park is up and to the left and reverse is the top gear when you move it over. It’s needlessly complicated and set me up to rev in neutral a few times.

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Now, the CX-90 has been dinged in some reviews for not being quite as spacious as some three-row crossover competitors, or for having as much legroom as some testers would like. And it is true that the CX-90 doesn’t have as much cargo space or rear headroom as several three-row rivals. I suppose this question depends on your needs; I sat back there and while I can’t say I had an amazing time, I didn’t think it was terrible at all. I’m kind of baffled at people who say the CX-90 isn’t “big” enough, but everyone’s needs are different.

Granted, I didn’t test the CX-90 the way some did, like by taking five other passengers on a road trip to a Taylor Swift concert. And I’ve found that most third-row seats on these SUVs are almost always best used in a pinch anyway, like when the kids have their friends over or you need to travel short distances with a bunch of people.

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But if you’re really in the market for a three-row and you’re worried about space, make sure to test this against a few other options like the Kia Telluride, Toyota Grand Highlander and Jeep Grand Cherokee L. And remember, there’s no shame in getting that minivan; frankly most people would be happier in one anyway, but they just won’t do it. I suspect Mazda will remedy this criticism by making the next CX-90 even bigger, and of course, more expensive. 

Overall, there’s not a ton to complain about inside. The CX-90 doesn’t push the envelope of tech and design; instead, it’s very contemporary, upscale and comfortable.

How Does It Drive?

What that new turbo inline-six and a rear-wheel-drive setup, the term “Japanese BMW” got tossed around a lot to describe Mazda’s transformation. In truth, it’s as hard to make a three-row crossover drive in a compelling way as it is to make it look good. Most of these kid-hauler SUVs inherently won’t be known for their sporty dynamism.

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So even though I’m a believer in Mazda’s athleticism—it’s why my daily driver is a last-generation 3 hatchback—my expectations were low with the CX-90. It’s definitely a big car; I can’t imagine driving a three-row crossover where I live. Brooklyn parking was a bear in this thing. (Then again, I saw a few stroller-toting parents staring at this thing longingly as I drove past; people make it work when they have to.)

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In practice, the CX-90 is more like a Japanese Volvo than anything else, or one that hits the gym a few times a week. It’s actually pretty solid to drive, and even fun at times—for this class, anyway.

The hybrid is a pretty refined powertrain overall; 323 HP and 369 lb-ft is nothing to sneeze at from a four-cylinder engine. Granted, it has more than 5,000 pounds to move around, but I never found it wanting for acceleration. Motor Trend’s instrumented tested ranked its zero to 60 mph dash at 6.2 seconds; again, really not bad.

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Mazdas seldom disappoint on the handling front and the CX-90 proved to have the taut steering and planted handling I’d expect from this brand. It’s predictable at high speeds and comfortable on the highway. I did find the suspension to be overly firm, especially on New York’s battered roads both in the city and upstate; and at the end of the day, a major infusion of athletic prowess is just kind of wasted on a car this big and heavy.

The PHEV CX-90 can run in fully electric mode and offers up to 26 miles of range on that alone, so like a lot of these hybrids, you could run a ton of daily errands and very seldom use gasoline. It uses a 17.8-kWh battery pack and, like other hybrids, won’t add electrons any quicker on a fast-charging EV station because it doesn’t really need to.

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The PHEV’s gas mileage hasn’t been EPA-rated, but Mazda claims 25 mpg combined; not mind-blowing, but remember, weight cuts into fuel economy. And a PHEV will still create less emissions than a turbocharged gas inline-six, and I think that’s something more buyers should consider.

The PHEV will also fully juice the battery in about 2.5 hours on a Level 2 charger, which isn’t bad if you can find one while running your various errands.

How’s The Tech?

Much of the really notable tech on the CX-90 PHEV relates to that hybrid system. You can program it to use full-EV mode on startup, for example, so a lot of my around-town driving was all-electric from the outset. And you can hit a “Charge Mode” button to prioritize the engine’s ability to fully charge the battery.

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Mazda’s infotainment system is infamous for not using touch controls; the company thinks it’s safer, less distracting and more driver-focused to use a knob and some central buttons. Most of the time, it actually works great. The real hangup is when you go to enter addresses, which can be supremely annoying (though voice controls work pretty well these days.) Mazda, however, was smart enough to make the screen touch-compatible when you turn on wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so most of the time you’ll probably end up doing that.

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Oh, and one neat party trick? The Driver Personalization System, which sets the seat, steering wheel, mirrors and HUD based on your height and weight. It also stores your various settings that way.

There’s also the usual ADAS stuff you’d expect at this price, like a low-speed highway traffic system , but nothing extremely cutting-edge like Cadillac’s Super Cruise or Ford’s latest hands-off BlueCruise. Most of the focus on the CX-90 was on the powertrain and luxury, not on building up a cutting-edge software ecosystem.

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It certainly works fine here. But even that infotainment system is fairly dull. If you want mind-blowing tech, probably look elsewhere. Mazda can’t do everything.

Three Things To Know About The 2023 Mazda CX-90

  1. There are three-row crossovers with more legroom and headroom in the back than the CX-90 has, but this reviewer didn’t think it was bad.
  2. Since the CX-90 is never going to be a “performance” car, you may as well get the PHEV version to save gas and cut emissions, and it’s definitely not slow.
  3. It’s a very convincing, very well-executed foray into the luxury sandbox Mazda wants to play in.

Does It Fulfill Its Purpose?

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In a word: yes. There’s not a gigantic list of plug-in hybrid three-row SUVs these days, so Mazda’s now-flagship CX-90 is a strong contender in that space. And the non-hybrid, inline-six CX-90 is pretty compelling too.

I can’t say it was a car I dreamed about after it left my driveway, but I did find it very impressive on several fronts. I’m also not the target demo for a three-row luxury crossover, but I think anyone who is in that realm should give it a look.

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More crucially for Mazda, this is the sort of thing that needs to trickle down to the rest of the lineup. With the already disappointing MX-30 getting axed after approximately five minutes on the market, Mazda’s electric and electrified options are disappointingly thin. It needs to catch up on that front to show it’s ready for the way the future’s moving and what customers will increasingly want. As it is, I don’t love that to get an electrified Mazda I have to spend almost $60,000 on a huge SUV. 

But the CX-90 PHEV is proof that it can pull its future playbook off, and do so without losing its soul. It’s a great choice for parents who can’t (or won’t) spring for the minivan option and it’s already a sales hit. Just wait until Mazda starts applying the same hybrid tech to smaller stuff like the CX-50, which seems likely to happen soon enough

Now, is the CX-90 worth that hefty price? I think so, considering the style, hybrid tech and quality you seem to get here. It’ll take some work to convince people that Mazda can go premium, but hey—that has to start somewhere.

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What’s The Punctum Of The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV?

Mazda’s throwing punches as it enters new territory and the CX-90 hybrid is a convincing luxury option for all sorts of families.

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All photos by Patrick George

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Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
8 months ago

I want one of these in a PHEV luxury sedan or station wagon form, like Volvo does it.

Unclesam
Unclesam
8 months ago

It looks nice. I’m happy Mazda is taking big phev swings. However, the original Pacifica Hybrid is eight model years newer but gets 10+ more miles of all electric range, 5+ more EPA MPG when the battery runs out, and weighs many hundreds of lbs less. Yes it has 50 more horses, but so what? Will anyone notice? I’m skeptical. Not bloody good enough, Mazda

I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
8 months ago

Ah! there’s still a MUTE button! The best feature of the CX-9 we used to have was a steering wheel-mounted mute button. Good for quickly turning down the radio for commercials, language (think of the children!), or whatever. Looks like they moved it to the center console secondary dial thingy (volume + other stuff knob?). I’m glad they kept that function, it’s truly the best.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
8 months ago

Also still a feature on the current gen steering wheels, at least as of my ’22 CX-30.

I first saw that on a 3 a decade ago or so, it’s so handy!

Turkina
Turkina
8 months ago

Does it mute the children? That’s the important question!

LastNormalManual
LastNormalManual
8 months ago

Hyundai has that as well, but it’s a little less obvious. The volume rocker on the steering wheel is also a button, and you press it in to mute. Definitely handy.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
8 months ago

I keep rooting for Mazda and want them to succeed but my own experience with our 2010 Mazda5 will probably keep me from ever buying another. I love the 5, it has a 5 speed and is fun to drive, but has been a maintenance headache. Maybe it’s the rough New England roads and my wife’s driving but the thing had eaten suspension and brake components and is completely rusted out after 150k. I’ve replace all 4 wheel bearings, both front control arms, inner and outer tie rods, sway bar bushings and links, several broken rear shock mounts…. I think the problem with the 5 is that it’s basically a stretched and heavier 3 but they didn’t beef up the suspension.

Anyway, I hope their recent CUVs are better. For us, we’re looking at a Sienna hybrid to replace the 5.

Fletcher Smith
Fletcher Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

13 years and 150k miles rusts out pretty much anything in the northeast salt belt.

I’m not really sure what your other benchmarks are.

MrMcGeeIn3D
MrMcGeeIn3D
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Wrench

Yeah, it’s probably your New England climate that’s ruining the long-term experience. I have 2 Mazda 6s (2015 with 130k miles and a 2018 with 50k miles) and they’ve both been absolutely stellar. The only thing wrong with my older one was a rear brake caliper failure, which was an hour and $80 fix that only required 2 sockets, and the paint on the front bumper of the 6s made before 2018 are absolute garbage. I’ve seen quite a number of them (mine included) where the clear coat on the front bumper just completely disintegrates. The newer one has had a few glitches with the infotainment screen, but that has only happened in extreme heat and direct sunlight. The turbo engine is tuned for mid range torque, so it short-shifts at 5500 RPM, but that’s just an annoyance.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
8 months ago

My wife and I have a 2016 Mazda CX-5 and a 2016 Mazda6 right now. Previously, at the start of our marriage, we had a then-new 2013 Mazda CX-5 and a 2008 Mazda3. We experimented for a while with a 2019 Toyota Highlander and liked it but it was too expensive month-to-month with the economical conditions the way they are, hence our scaling back to a used 2016 Mazda CX-5 (my Mazda6 is paid off).

My dream-ish garage is for my wife to have one of these (she loves the idea of one – especially the hybrid as she can tool around our small town with the kids and not use any gas) and for me to have a CX-50. But that would require more money.

Maybe someday…but for now, we plan to ride out these 2016s until they become maintenance queens.

Jsfauxtaug
Jsfauxtaug
8 months ago

For those wishing for a smaller cx90, Mazda already offers a CX60 in PHEV and gas/diesel I6 in Europe. I wonder how hard it’d be to convince homologating that diesel ????

Park
Park
8 months ago
Reply to  Jsfauxtaug

I believe the CX-70 will fill that void.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
8 months ago

sporty dynamism

{ rage welling up from deep inside }

Greg
Greg
8 months ago

it looks like the telluride interior, the pre-refresh. At least from the drivers point of view. “Not Bad” is perfect way to describe this car. I dont think it will take many LR sales though.

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
8 months ago

These have a tax credit in Ontario currently. I’ve been looking at getting one in the next few years as a replacement for my wife’s RAV4 hybrid. Most of her driving is in town so it could be done pure electric, while our various family road trips would be utilizing the engine.

D0nut
D0nut
8 months ago

This is likely our next car. We currently have a 2016 CX-9 which has been pretty great. I with the article went a little deeper into the PHEV advantages and driving experience. The reason this car is at the top of our list is because of that PHEV drive train and the ability to do 90+% of our driving on electricity alone. But, I’m also interested in how it drives in pure electric and what the “transition” feels like as the gas kicks in.

Root
Root
8 months ago
Reply to  D0nut

I too wish the review got into this. Brake feel too.

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
8 months ago

I have a Land Rover but it’s in the shop all the damn time. I didn’t know these existed. I should take a look at this instead.

After I was able to gather myself up after that gem, I got to this which I found interesting:

Mazda, however, was smart enough to make the screen touch-compatible when you turn on wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so most of the time you’ll probably end up doing that.

I have seen other reviews mention the touch capable aspect of the screen is locked out when in drive. Is that just the native infotainment or also Android Auto and Apple Car Play?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
8 months ago
Reply to  JerryLH3

In the past, Mazda has locked out the touchscreen on AA/CP. This is because apparently AA (and possibly CP, too, not sure) do not have software hooks to tell whether or not the car is in motion, so there was no way to enable/disable touch capability based on that. So Mazda being all in on their joystick control and the mentality that touchscreens are bad, chose to simply disable it always rather than enable it always. Starting with the new generation of cars, they have reversed that thinking and have decided to enable it always.
Which is a good thing. Because even though their in-house UI is intuitive enough with the joystick (because it was designed for it), AA is clumsy and hard to get used to with the touch interface that it was designed for.
Touch for the Mazda UI has up until now at least been locked out while in motion. It may still be that way.

Last edited 8 months ago by Rad Barchetta
Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
8 months ago

Just saw a commercial for this featuring Ant Anstead, who I respect and trust. I have a feeling I’m not the only one, which is probably why they hired him.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
8 months ago

One of my neighbors recently purchased one of these (non-PHEV) and I must say that I think they look fantastic. I know everyone loves the Telluride, and I admit that Kia nailed the design of it, but I personally think the CX-90 looks better.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago

I know styling is subjective but to me there’s something puffy and blunt looking about this thing vs the sleek angularity of all of Mazda’s other (great imo) current gen designs. IF I’m a representative sample this is a bad thing for their flagship. Overall this review and others sounds like the CX90 got a B when Mazda really needed an A+, especially after the relative success of the CX9. Not a fanboy but I’ve owned two mazdas and a few friends have bought them based on my recommendation and have been very happy. I’m sad that in their move upscale they seem to be moving more and more away from offering what was typically the sportiest car in its otherwise boring class. I get not being able to compete against Toyota and Honda-but trying to fill the tiny niche left by Saab’s demise seems like a bad business strategy.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

I think there’s only so much that can be done which so much heft. This thing is pretty darn big.

As for sportiness, I’m not so sure Mazda can do much more to inject fun into this than they have. The more focus on “sport”, the more people they turn off. This is a van, minus rad sliding doors.

Here’s hoping they sell a ton and manage to keep on developing/building the 3 and Miata.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago

That was more generally expressing sadness that they seem to be slowly blunting the sportiness of their whole line and relying entirely on the Miata for maintaining their image. The 1st two generations of mazda 3 were legit poor man’s 3 series/ GTi competitors and everything I’ve read about the newest ones is that they are actively trying to move away from that-see Patrick’s Volvo comparison.

Unclesam
Unclesam
8 months ago

They’ve always been Japanese VW in my mind, reinforced by the number of people I know who exclusively cross shopped the two. Japanese Volvo is a worthy aspiration in my book

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago
Reply to  Unclesam

Yeah Japanese VW is a valid comparison for where they’re at. I’m not personally a huge volvo fan as I’ve found the ones I’ve driven a little stuffy but I’d rather see them go after Volvo than Lexus or Acura.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago

I’d really like Mazda to go PHEV in something a little smaller. The CX50 and CX30 would be nice to see as PHEV.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

(I do think that making bigger vehicles into PHEVs likely has more potential for reducing emissions, I just want one, but don’t want anything this big.)

755_SoCalRally
755_SoCalRally
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I needed a new grocery getter earlier this year and I previously loved my CX-5 so I purchased a CX-50. The dealer I worked with stated that the 2024 CX-50 is scheduled to get a PHEV powertrain as an option, so you may get your wish sooner rather than later.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago
Reply to  755_SoCalRally

Ooh, that will be worth looking at. Thanks for the info!

Ben
Ben
8 months ago

It’s refreshing, in 2023, to sit in a car where the design ethos wasn’t just “Screen.”

I agree, but it would be nice if the design ethos didn’t instead look like “Oops, forgot we needed a screen”. It literally looks like someone just leaned a tablet on the dash.

That small gripe aside though, this does look really good. I’m in the PHEV-all-the-things camp so applying that to a 3-row is excellent. They still have a hooded gauge cluster, which is more than enough to convince me to forgive the afterthought center screen.

It’s nice to see Mazda do something good in the alternative drivetrain segment after the disaster that was the MX-30. If they can execute some really good PHEV versions of their cars they could be well-placed to take advantage of the likely coming shift in focus from full EV to PHEV as everyone realizes that the infrastructure isn’t ready for everyone to drive a full EV yet.

The Dude
The Dude
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Unfortunately the new hotness is “oops we forgot to design the dash” now that we’re seeing a screen lazily tacked on spanning driver to passenger.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago

My wife and I are essentially the target demographic for this car (or will be once kids are in the picture) so I’ve kept a close eye on this product. I’ve seen a few in person and I think you need to get it in the more interesting colors for the design to really be appreciable. I saw one in artisan premium red and it was definitely a looker, plus we all worship at the altar of soul red.

Anyway, this car offers some unique features and I think the best way to have it is to stick to the lower spec versions. Once you’re paying $55,000+ it doesn’t make as much sense IMHO, but a nicely equipped base straight 6 one in the high 40s is mighty enticing. One of the major advantages of these that isn’t harped on nearly enough in this article or in general is the fuel economy and fact that a hybrid option even exists at all.

The non hybrid manages 24/28, which is ridiculously good for this class. The Palisade/Telluride twins and the Pilot all have ancient NA V6s that are rated for high teens in the city, and none of them offer a hybrid option, let alone a full PHEV. Then add in the unique styling, luxury accouterments, and long term reliability that will almost certainly exceed the Korean offerings, and suddenly this is a mighty appealing choice.

It also has more driving character. While some will say “who cares in this class”, I’m going to mention that I absolutely do. If I’m going to be stuck driving a boat on road trips having a little bit of fun makes a huge difference. So if you’re an enthusiast who needs a family hauler, this is a great place to start.

Also, and I say this as a Hyundai owner, the Korean offerings don’t hold up as well when you get into the fine details. Eventually you’re going to find the cost cutting, particularly when it comes to the quality of materials. The savings have to come from somewhere.

To make a long story short I see the appeal in this vehicle and I don’t think it’s being talked about quite enough. I think people are a little too fast to go “just buy a Telluride” when this has a massive advantage when it comes to fuel economy, powertrains, longevity, etc. There’s also a CX70 that’ll be debuting soon, and I can’t wait to see what it’s like. I’m all for the idea of buying a luxury car that isn’t weighed down by the expectations of a better known badge.

Last edited 8 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

long term reliability that will almost certainly exceed the Korean offerings

I don’t know that I’d jump to this conclusion so quickly. A brand new engine and a hybrid system from a company not known for them may in fact turn out to be a great long term bet, but would perhaps not be my first choice for reliability right off the bat.

Goose
Goose
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Some valid complaints I’ve see is that a lot of the serviceable components on the engine (timing chain, water pump, etc etc) are on the backside, meaning access is gonna suck or require dropping the engine. Hopefully they don’t end up requiring regular service….

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

If there’s anything I wished from the van, it would be a powertrain more like this routinely getting in the mid 20’s to low 30’s. That Pentastar V6 is pretty damn thirsty. Getting 25ish in the city is pretty good for a base engine choice.

Mazda has done rather well this past generation of powertrains reliability-wise, but I sure do get nervous about a new longitudinally mounted inline 6. And will Mazda’s motivation to move upmarket turn them into 90’s/00’s VW/Audi, or will they resist the urge to make overly complicated and straight-up baffling powertrain decisions? I’m willing to bet on Mazda here but I’d be a little nervous to do so.

Unclesam
Unclesam
8 months ago

The pentastar that’s in the Pacifica Hybrid gets 30 EPA after you run down the battery but slightly better in real life IME.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  Unclesam

The Pacifica PHEV certainly seems awesome on paper, but man has it been taking a beating in the world of reliability surveys. Hopefully they get the kinks out of it fast. Do you have one? I’d be curious as to how it’s been to own so far.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago

Could totally see it, good point on the non-hybrid version. AS someone who has had a love/hate relationship with a number of used german cars, what I love about Mazda is they have nearly the same or better thoughtfulness of design and driver orientation that the germans have but with way lower maintenance costs. My dad has owned both a late 1st gen CX9 and a Porsche Cayenne and no joke in the corners the CX9 was very nearly as fun and while the materials may have been cheaper I actually think it had a more logically laid out better designed interior. Also agreed on the Hyundai thing, while I only had an accent, on the surface level it was a fine little econobox but after owning for a few years followed up by a used older Civic it was clearly not as thoroughly engineered or well made.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
8 months ago

I echo your complaint about the Telluride/Palisade powertrain — just ugh. That big old thirsty V6 is preventing me from considering what could otherwise be an ideal vehicle for me. If I’m going to (reluctantly) pay that much for any vehicle, then I do not want to compound the pain by spending another ton of money on gas.

The number of hybrid 3-row CUVs is indeed frustratingly small, and so I welcome another one to the market. But the one that really has my attention is the upcoming Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid — that one seems to be right-sized for my family, including a smidge more room behind the 3rd row than its sister Sorento. (Literally the only thing that would keep me from considering the Sorento is that huge subwoofer taking up 1/3 of the rear cargo bin in the higher trims; maybe I could get a dealer to remove that thing, but what a PITA.)

NW_6MT
NW_6MT
8 months ago

“The non hybrid manages 24/28, which is ridiculously good for this class.”
There isn’t a non hybrid option. All the 3.3’s (turbo and turbo S) have a 48V mild hybrid system.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago
Reply to  NW_6MT

I go back and forth on whether or not we’re supposed to count milf hybrids as the real thing, which is why I omitted it. There doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
8 months ago

Oh man, where can I find these milf hybrids?

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
8 months ago

Heh heh

Last edited 8 months ago by TOSSABL
Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
8 months ago

I hear they’re In Your Area.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
8 months ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

Oh no, I’m not falling for that again!

Jan Schiefer
Jan Schiefer
8 months ago

+1 on the Telluride engine comment. We have a ’12 Highlander, and I look at the Telluride specs and there hasn’t been any progress in the past 10 years. So the CX90 is a breath of fresh air, especially the PHEV.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago
Reply to  Jan Schiefer

It’s a goddamn dinosaur of an engine. I have no idea why there’s no hybrid option or at the bare minimum a decent turbo 4. The Hyundai/Kia corporate 2.5 liter turbo is right there in the GV80 anyway and it gets better fuel economy/has more power.

Maybe they’re trying to keep it behind the Genesis paywall or something but that engine is light years better than that clunky V6 that wouldn’t be out of place in an early 2000s Ford or GM truck…

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
8 months ago
Reply to  Jan Schiefer

Yup. Do not want to buy another 17/23 vehicle. It is pathetic in 2023. It’ll be even more pathetic when I still own that car in 2030.

Marteau
Marteau
8 months ago

You can kid with a kona. No need something twice the size…

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

As one who kneels at the Altar of Van, I care little for this segment. 3-row SUVs are a crappy value for something that will perform worse for most than the van. Unless you own something like a mid-size camper, I don’t get it. You’re a parent. Nobody thought you were cool even before you were a parent. Embrace your irrelevance.

I will say that I am jealous of these new Mazda interiors, even though their quality would be lost on my increasingly filthy passengers. And, the CX-90 actually looks nice? When the “I wouldn’t ever buy a dowdy minivan!” folks roll up in a Highlander or a Pilot, I laugh, as if they look any better than a van. This actually looks a bit nicer than most vans, so credit where it’s due I suppose.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
8 months ago

Agreed. Vans are better at everything vs the crossovers, I do not understand the vanity that prevents people from getting them. Now if only there were a PHEV van that wasn’t a pacifica.

V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

I hate to interrupt this circle jerk, but as a two time and current Sienna owner myself, I think I’m entitled to.

This statement:

 Vans are better at everything vs the crossovers

Is objectively not true. Now, it may be that you don’t need towing capacity, ground clearance in deep snow, or universal AWD availability, but many find these things compelling reasons not to get a van. Which is fine!

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Those are all available on actual SUVs, but most of these crossovers do not have any of those things. And the Sienna has long had the AWD capability, so that’s a moot point but I acknowledge none of the other manufacturers have bothered with that.

V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

Most 3 row crossovers, including this one, offer 5000 lb towing or thereabouts, far higher than any minivan.

Most crossovers sit higher than minivans. The CX-90 here has 8″, the Sienna is more like 6-6.5″. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when I have to get out and push my van in the snowy driveway every winter, it does become noticeable.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’ll give you the ground clearance, as for the towing capacity, taking 30 seconds to google a few crossovers, they said anywhere from 1500-5000, but most did indicate that when properly equipped they have the 5000. Last time I looked was probably 6 years ago or more and I swear everything was around the 3500 unless you went for a Tahoe or similar.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
8 months ago

For 3-row SUVs, last time I went searching I found that most of them could do 5000 with the right trim level. A few were higher, and a few could only do 3500 no matter what.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Hey, I was enjoying that circle jerk!

If someone genuinely wants/needs that extra 2-3k of towing capacity, have at it. I’ve never gotten that excuse from anyone I’ve ever known though. It’s always the “UGH, Van? My life isn’t over yet!”

Normally I wouldn’t give a damn whether or not anyone else bought a van, but after a decade of watching manufacturers kill anything that’s not a truck or an SUV, I can’t help but get defensive for the segment, lest vans are next for extinction. As if I have any power to change that.

You know all of this though.

V10omous
V10omous
8 months ago

I do, and my perspective obviously aligns with you more than not, because I love our family van.

I just don’t really like absolute statements.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I try not to go full zealot with the van stuff, and understand that there are some people who are well served by the 3-row SUV craze.

I can’t help but try to convert people though. I need van sales up. I only wish brands like Mazda and Subaru (come on Subaru, you freaking cowards, you know the Ascent sucks and you know your hippy-dippy outdoorsy demographic would eat an AWD van up) could confidently develop a van and sell them.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago

Lol Subaru really should do a minivan-that’s an amazing recommendation for them.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago

Put sliding doors on the Ascent and you already have something, I think. Wouldn’t take much to make it into a minivan.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Subaru has long been a brand that attracts people who had, at least in the past, avoided the traditional SUV for a utility vehicle by opting for the Outback instead. Going van at least would have given them a way to differentiate themselves (a full line of AWD vans instead of optional/unavailable) and would have opened the door to all sorts of lucrative upgrades and trim levels. Subaru could be selling 50k Wilderness trim vans right now.

Instead the have a bottom tier product in a segment that’s more crowded than any other. Based on our local dealers, it’s the only product they have trouble selling instantly.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
8 months ago

I currently work at a Subaru dealership and we’re 2-3 weeks out on Ascent orders, 4-6 if you want popular trims and colors like Green or Blue. It’s getting long in the tooth though and will be getting a 2nd gen soon.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

Our dealers are sort of fat with Ascents, but to be fair, they’re all higher trim and for god knows what reason, white.

I’ll be curious to see what the second gen is like.

Drew
Drew
8 months ago

I think Subaru has long figured that a lot of people will buy for the name, and the three-row segment is lucrative. They’re not entirely wrong, but vans are pretty slim these days, so they could really clean up in that segment.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
8 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Totally agreed if you do anything active with your kids minivans are frustratingly limited-that extra 2-3 ” of ground clearance skiing or rough roading does make a difference.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
8 months ago

I would love a minivan, but my gripe is that they are not “mini” anymore. Meaning, a current minivan would not quite fit in my tiny urban garage. God do I wish we had the variety of passenger vans that they do in Europe & Asia.

But also, the segment desperately needs more hybrid options. Every manufacturer should offer a hybrid version of their minivan. (Are you listening, Honda and Kia?!)

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

I definitely agree there. But these crossovers aren’t small either. They tend to be pretty similar in size, but are definitely not garage or city friendly. Driving a Sienna through downtown DC traffic was not fun at all!

The Dude
The Dude
8 months ago

100% agree. I did the happy dance when my wife decided on a van instead of a 3 row SUV. But this offering a PHEV variant (there weren’t and still aren’t many 3 row PHEVs) might’ve put it on the list to consider despite being an SUV. Oh and yes there’s the Pacifica but being a Chrystler product it never even made the list when van shopping.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

Boy do I ever hope we end up with some more PHEV and regular hybrid vans this next generation. Toyota can’t keep the regular hybrid Sienna available at all.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
8 months ago

We entered the 3-row CUV market because I honestly hated all the van options. The Honda Odyssey seems to fail at being reliable like all other Hondas (doors falling off, transmissions made of glass, cylinder deactivation causing engines needing to be rebuilt, etc.). The Chrysler Pacifica is a Chrysler – enough said. The ancient Dodge Grand Caravan was on its way out and scored pathetically in the small-overlap crash test. And, the Toyota Siennas cost $20k+ on the used market even with over 100,000 miles and approximately 3 tons of crushed Cheetos in their carpet. That left the Kia Sedona which is a Kia and has the direct injection V6 which I have also heard horror stories about. So, minivan was not for us.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

I mean, the 3-row used market is similarly inflated to the moon. I have a Chrysler van (with an extended warranty, I might add) but I totally understand why someone wouldn’t be enthusiastic about going down that road. In general though, most of these vans have the same or similar powertrains to their 3-row counterparts.

I agree though, I really wish there were more van options and competition in general. Having only 3-4 choices at any given time, especially when the Sienna is basically impossible to get your hands on, makes things difficult.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
8 months ago

This is true. We bought our 2019 Highlander new in late-2019, before the car market became ridiculous and before our economical forecast changed. And, the 2020 Highlander was going to be a redesign, so the ‘19s were basically on clearance. We no longer have said Highlander anyway and have scaled back down to a smaller/more affordable used vehicle, so the point is kind of moot for us.

But yes, minivan choices, at least here in America, suck.

And I just realized a grammatical error in my last post. I meant to say the Odyssey fails at being reliable UNlike all other Hondas.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

I don’t get it. You’re a parent. Nobody thought you were cool even before you were a parent. Embrace your irrelevance”

The reason I refuse to own a mini van has absolutely nothing with other people’s perception of me. I’m well aware that I am not cool, and I never was. For shits sake, I’m a fat guy who rides scooters. I look like a circus bear riding a tricycle, wearing a high-vis vest. I don’t give two shits or one single fuck what other people think about me.

No, the reason I refuse to own a minivan… and there is only one reason… is I think they’re ugly. Why in the world would I drop perfectly good money on a vehicle that I despise looking at? YUCK!!!

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

I mean, do they tend to look much worse than their SUV counterpart? The number of people I know that drive around the last-gen pilot who would never buy an Odyssey confuse me. I think that Pilot looks awful.

In the world of large-ass family vehicles, there aren’t too many choices that stir the soul in the aesthetic department. You’re certainly welcome to hate the way vans look. My confusion is associated not with people opting to ride a scooter or some other totally different product, but with people choosing to buy a Highlander over a Sienna simply for appearances.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

IMO (and my wife’s as well), mini vans do tend to look much worse than their SUV counterpart. I think the Sienna looks far dumpier than a Highlander. We chose a CX-5 for my wife to cart our kids around in (forgoing the 3rd row), because we both love the way it looks and the way it drives. If we decide to step up to a 3rd row, you better believe a CX-90 is at the top of the list to replace it.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

The Mazdas certainly make a better case for form over function. For me though, I think they all sort of look like hell (3-row SUVs), so I’m going to go for function here. But I am rooting for Mazda.

I actually find the Pacifica to be pretty nice looking for a massive box. I can understand why some people may be put off by the Sienna though. It’s a bit rough looking.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago

To each their own. I certain have respect for the immense practicality of a minivan.

SuperNova
SuperNova
8 months ago

can anybody explain to me why they have a TV set on the dash? is this something people ask for?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
8 months ago
Reply to  SuperNova

Unfortunately, yes. Yes it is.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
8 months ago

I am curious why a 17.8 kwh battery pack is only supposed to provide 26 miles of EV range. Most EVs average ~3 miles per kwh, so I would expect range to be closer to 40 miles. A Model X gets 2.5-3 mi/kwh and is approximately the same weight as the CX-90 PHEV, so weight doesn’t appear to be the issue. Is 26 miles a very conservative estimate? Is aerodynamics a problem?

Goose
Goose
8 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Full EV’s don’t have to turn the drivetrain of a ICE vehicle. While the ICE isn’t rotating in EV mode, the rest of the drivetrain like the transmission, driveshafts, diffs, etc are. I’m assuming that soaks up a decent amount of energy. Other PHEV AWD vehicles don’t get close to the same efficiency numbers as full on EVs when both operate solely on electrons. See the X5 xDrive50e only netting 40 miles off a 25.7-kWh battery which is not really that much better than the larger Mazda.

Last edited 8 months ago by Goose
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
8 months ago
Reply to  Goose

That makes sense. I have always thought of the electric motor as a completely separate from the ICE, but I guess they have to be integrated into the ICE powertrain to at least some degree for it to work as a hybrid.

Last edited 8 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
8 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

The RAV4 Prime has a 18.1 kwh battery (~14.5 useable) and is rated at 42 miles, though ours regularly hits 50+ in good weather/around town driving. Our gauge says we are getting 3.1miles/kwh over the lifetime of the vehicle, which seems to check out.

The CX90 is quite a bit bigger, but I’m guessing this number is a bit conservative.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
8 months ago

I have heard from a few Wrangler 4xe owners that say their vehicles also have a greater EV range than advertised, so it seems like at least some PHEVs are underrated. I would be interested to know how EV only ranges are determined with PHEVs, particularly since BEV ranges tend to be substantially overrated compared to what typical drivers achieve.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
8 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

This is a hunch, but I suspect that 17.8kWh figure is gross battery capacity rather than usable. My gen 1 Volt has a 16ish kWh battery but only 10.5 usable, and I get anywhere from high 20s (in the winter, blasting the heat) to low-mid 40s (ideal conditions, spring and fall).

26 miles average from, say, 12 to 13kWh usable capacity, for a beast of this size, sounds reasonable.

Unclesam
Unclesam
8 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

The Pacifica Hybrid is rated for 33miles from a 16kwh pack, but gets closer to 40 IME. I’d guess it’s an aero + weight problem

Ben Hutcheson
Ben Hutcheson
8 months ago

What’s the powertrain feel like, in terms of smoothness and refinement? I’m looking pretty seriously at this as my next family car, and I’m torn between the environmental consciousness of the hybrid, and the presumed smoothness of the I6. I’m not worried about the performance either way, just the overall feel and experience of the thing – I love an I6 and it’s been a long time since I’ve had a realistic option to buy one.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hutcheson

The base I6 is a mild hybrid and fuel economy wise it still wipes the floor with everything other than the Highlander Hybrid in this class, for what it’s worth. I’d argue that it’s still a carbon conscious choice, especially compared to the ancient V6s that are still kicking around in this class.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hutcheson

There’s also the Jeep Grand Cherokee with a standard I6. (They were supposed to use that engine in a bunch of other vehicles as well, including cars, but so far it’s crickets.)

Ben Hutcheson
Ben Hutcheson
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

Alas, the Grand Cherokee still has the Pentastar V6, not the new Hurricane I6. There have been rumors for years, but so far they have not made the switch in anything but the enormous Wagoneers.

Not that the Pentastar is a bad engine, but it’s not quite the same.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hutcheson

Dammit, I’ve been anticipating it for so long that it was already true in my mind! I wish Stellantis product planners worked as fast as my mind does.

And yeah, the Pentastar is a good engine, and probably way more profitable than the new I6 (in terms of amortization), so I can see why they want to keep milking it.

Goose
Goose
8 months ago

Japanese Volvo does sound like a more apt comparison. Even though it does have the I6, all the reviews I have read makes it sound much more like a Japanese XC90 than a Japanese X5. Overall, it seems like a good car for the typical 3 row buyer; but I think it wont excite most enthusiasts enough (which for all I know will mean it actually sells well).

Last edited 8 months ago by Goose
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