When Mazda unveiled the CX-90, I loved what I saw but wondered what exactly it would compete against. It turns out that we need to wonder no more, for Mazda just released pricing and trim levels. It turns out that the CX-90 competes with everything and offers a massive array of trims to do so. Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.
Before we begin, let’s recap. The CX-90 is a new era for Mazda on a lot of fronts. It rides on a longitudinal architecture, has rear-biased all-wheel-drive, packs an all-new turbocharged inline-six engine (Mazda’s first, and its most powerful gasoline engine ever) and is meant to really deliver on moving the brand more upmarket than stuff we’ve seen before. It also has Mazda’s first plug-in hybrid system for the U.S. market. Basically, Mazda really threw the kitchen sink at this thing.
It’s also got a lineup of trims that are utterly confounding to understand. At the higher level, there are three new powertrain options: CX-90 3.3 Turbo S, CX-90 PHEV, and CX-90 3.3 Turbo. That seems easy enough, but packages within bring the total count to 11 trim levels. That’s a lot! Especially for tiny Mazda!
Also, know that the CX-90 PHEV has the familiar naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four with a combined system output of 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque on premium gas. The CX-90 3.3 Turbo has the “standard” turbo inline-six rated at 280 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. For the RX-7 owner in another life who now has to take the kids to hockey practice, the top-shelf CX-90 3.3 Turbo S puts out 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft.
Now let’s dive into all the 11 trims, and be warned, it gets confusing. (Also, the Turbo S trims don’t always line up with the Turbo trims, so the whole thing feels like Who’s On First.)
Kicking things off is the base Turbo Select model featuring the detuned variant of Mazda’s new six. While 280 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque isn’t a whole lot out of such a large turbocharged engine, the base model’s price isn’t a lot either. Including a $1,375 freight charge, this trim costs just $40,970 and includes all-wheel-drive, LED lamps, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone climate control, and plenty of other kit. (In fact, the Turbo Select is one of four low-output inline-six CX-90 variants for sale.)
Next up is the $44,820 Turbo Preferred which adds a sunroof, leather, window shades, USB-C ports in the third row, optional captain’s chairs and a few other niceties like high-gloss black exterior plastics on the grille. However, if you want to unlock the maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, you’ll need to pop for the $47,275 Turbo Preferred Plus.
Mind you, that extra $2,455 gets you more than just selectable drive modes including a towing mode. It also gets wireless charging, a heads-up display, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, a hitch receiver isn’t included in that price, which makes the Preferred Plus trim feel a little bit steep.
Time for another big pricing jump, although this one comes with a whole bunch of stuff. The CX-90 Turbo Premium gets a Bose stereo, standard second-row captain’s chairs, 21-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, and a few bits of extra chrome trim and some minor gadgets. That doesn’t sound too bad for $50,275, although it’s still not at the top of the range.
The low-output turbo model’s highest trim is the Premium Plus which commands a strong price tag of $54,325 and gets pretty much every luxury feature you could realistically want in a mass-market three-row crossover. I’m talking Nappa leather, cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, a digital cluster, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, a 360-degree camera system, and even more collision-avoidance tech.
Should you wish to keep a greener footprint, a plug-in hybrid powertrain is available in Preferred, Premium, and Premium Plus trims for a $4,000 surcharge over the low-output inline-six. Feature count largely mirrors the standard Turbo models, although the PHEVs get a few extras. Preferred PHEVs get a digital cluster to monitor the hybrid system, Premium PHEVs get the cluster and a 1,500-watt charging outlet in the cargo area, and all PHEV models have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
Right, time to have some fun. If you want the full-fat 340-horsepower version of the 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six, you’re looking at spending at least $53,125 for the Turbo S model, a rather humorous name for a three-row crossover given its Porsche connotations but that’s alright. It’s basically the Turbo Premium model with more power, body-color cladding, the 12.3-inch infotainment screen, the digital cluster, 21-inch alloys, and a couple of minor trinkets. At just $2,850 more than the Turbo Premium, the Turbo S seems like pretty good value.
However, just to keep things confusing, the Turbo S Premium is aligned feature-wise with the Turbo Premium Plus. It gets everything the low-output Premium Plus trim gets along with a facial recognition system that encrypts and stores driver settings like your radio presets directly on the car. It’s entirely optional whether or not you use it and data isn’t subject to remote access, so it seems like security has been thought of here. Anyway, the Turbo S Premium trim costs $57,825, or $3,500 more than the Turbo Premium Plus trim. That’s not as great of a deal as the regular Turbo S, but it still seems fair for the extra power and torque.
If you aren’t confused yet, get ready for the Turbo S Premium Plus. This probably should’ve been called the Signature trim, but never mind that now. It’s a Turbo S Premium with even more toys that firmly plant this $61,325 range-topper in the entry-level luxury space. Think Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, those sorts of cars. This loaded trim adds ventilated second-row seats with a full-scale console between them, maple wood trim, special fabric accents, and upgraded leather with an optional unique white color. This is the fancy interior you’re seeing in all the press photos, so if you want such opulence, you’re going to have to splash the cash.
In terms of competition, the CX-90 is a bit odd because it occupies two segments simultaneously.
The base Turbo Select trim is a few hundred dollars cheaper than a Toyota Highlander LE AWD and includes a handful more mod-cons, while a fully-loaded Turbo S Premium Plus model is a full $7,720 cheaper than an Acura MDX Type-S. One solid foe is the massively popular Kia Telluride, which is $1,535 cheaper on the bottom end when equipped with all-wheel-drive, $6,795 cheaper when comparing the top ends of the ranges, and gets heaps of toys. However, the Telluride doesn’t have the available power of the CX-90, nor does it have a longitudinal architecture.
So, is the CX-90 great value or a bit expensive? Well, it depends on what you’re shopping it against.
The low-output Turbo trims should compete well with mainline three-row crossovers, while the high-output Turbo S trims look to be bargain luxury alternatives. Regardless of which way you lean, I reckon that Mazda has largely priced the CX-90 right, aside from a few strange choices like locking max towing and a heated steering wheel out of lower trims. Still, if you need a three-row crossover but actually like driving, the Mazda CX-90 is shaping up to be the one to have.
Hop this link to build your own and let me know what spec you’d choose in the comments. You sure have plenty to pick from.
(Photo credits: Mazda)
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The CX-90 multitude of trim lines are just stupid and consumer unfriendly. At this rate, why not just offer simple a la carte packages?
For example, why are higher trim packages forced to have captains chairs? As a family of 5 we cannot forgo trunk space.
Two time Cx-9 Grand Touring owner. This new line-up is insane. With the CX-9 Also, this car doesn’t need more power. It gets me into plenty of trouble as it is. It does need a much better transmission, better brakes and better fuel mileage. Give it a manual transmission and it would be perfect!
Prior Trim line-up was simple and made perfect sense. Should have stuck to Touring, Grand Touring and Signature or Performance.
I’m surprised at the base model pricing. I expected it to be more.
Holy smokes. I can’t believe that someone actually combined face recognition and radio presets into the same sentence, nevermind the same article. The Venn diagram between drivers who care about both must be exceedingly narrow. But maybe I’m wrong, Thomas ????
The only thing I’ll say about equipping any new car in the build and price tools is that I HATE having a sunroof is tied to so many other comfort features I do want. I don’t use sunroofs. I thought I might like them at one time, but turns out I don’t get much good out of them so I’d just assume not pay for it. But I seemingly can’t get the heated seats or some other thing I want without it….
As someone who does like a sunroof, I agree with you completely. It gets both required and locked out of certain trims and options, but it’s one of the more divisive options. Hyundai, for one example, would build models with a manual and then not let you get the moonroof – Elantra GT and Genesis G70 were two recent ones. OTOH, Honda – one of the originators of requiring a moonroof on the top trim – doesn’t build a CR-V without a moonroof at all.
My mother has no need for a sunroof, but to get the desired option mix on her car, a pano roof was required. (Which made less sense was that it was a standalone for the trim below, with most of the same desired features, just cloth instead of leather.)
I, for one, was ecstatic that I was not required to look for a G70 manual without a sunroof, but I get the objection. The weird one is that Canadian G70 manuals get leather and American ones get pleather.
Source: own a G70 manual
Yep – just make it an option! surely something else could have been added to streamline build varieties.
That is interesting re: the upholstery. That’s the kind of thing Honda and Mazda often has done between US vs. Canadian manual cars, with the latter being able to get a better-equipped 3-pedal model. And still does on some Civics.
Mazda seems to know their customers by promoting the inline 6 more than the PHEV. Both are firsts for mazda. Still, I wish the PHEV was available in the top-line trim as it will inevitably bring in more conquest customers than the inline 6.
What they need now is a larger Miata… you know, so that they keep that perfect 50:50 weight distribution and all… and toss the hi-po 3.3 turb underneath the bonnet of that. Bonus points for third pedal availability and an honest to goodness handbrake (people only use those for parking, right? **grins**).
Of course you gotta shell out for the top level trim if you don’t want garbage black plastic fenders.
I came to the comments to see if anyone else was saying this, all the press cars are a gorgeous maroon metallic with no black plastic cancer, and then the base model comes out with that garbage. Why add it at all? This is clearly not an off road vehicle, why give it pretend off road plastic? Wouldn’t it be cheaper if they didn’t have to have a bunch of extra parts for that cladding? And the fenders are probably different with holes to mount those things, etc, etc. GM did the same thing with the Opel Insignia/Regal TourX wagon, the insignia had no cheap bad plastic, and the tourX tried to confuse consumers that they were buying a Subaru outback.
Feels like a big miss in not giving the phev power train the top level luxe treatment. That combo would look extremely attractive vs the XC90 and Aviator PHEVs. The luxury 3 row PHEV mini-segment is weirdly underserved as far as I can tell. A CX-90 Signature could take a big chunk of it.
For a daily driver I’m not buying anything not PHEV or maybe an EV at this point… if my condos get charging.
Same. We drive an XC90 PHEV currently, goes off lease in 14 months. A CX-90 Signature would be our next car, but I’m less sold about the interior of the other trims. Say what you will about Chinese Volvo, but they know how to make a premium feeling interior – hard to step down from it.
I’m a little disappointed there isn’t an Ultimate Grand Supreme trim.
The *number* of trims isn’t out of place for the class – doesn’t matter where the buyer looks really. Look at a Highlander or Telluride, there’s even more trims out there, and the Highlander also offers more than one powertrain.
I don’t think they initially announced there would be two power outputs of the I6, so it took a couple read-throughs of the press release to realize that the Turbo S was the full-power version. This seems counter to the rest of the Mazda lineup – a couple years ago, with most other models (from the 3 to the CX-50, but not the CX-9), they went to 2.5 S [insert trim name], and then the turbo is “2.5 Turbo ___.” Sure all the CX-90s are turbo, but they couldn’t figure anything more imaginative?
I suppose keeping the top trim as Premium Plus for now, leaves room for a Signature above that to add with…something else. Unless they are getting away from “Signature” as a trim name as the CX-50 doesn’t have it. “Reserve” was another one I think they used before, and either one of those (empty names that they may be) would have more meaning to tag on to the 340 hp 3.3.
It’ll only get more confusing if they roll out a Meridian or Carbon edition down the line too.
That all said, seems to be a decent value in the lower trims against say the Pilot. A Turbo Preferred splits the difference in a Pilot EX-L and the Touring (Honda puts the Trailsport there). It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the updated Atlas that VW will show this week.
Also worth noting that while it should still stack up much better than the CX-9 did, in terms of passenger/cargo volume, the CX-90 is still a bit behind the Pilot/Palisade/etc.
Also – while I know we all wonder the PHEV range, a bit disappointed there’s no mention of the estimated fuel economy – 24 city/28 highway, and the mpg hit for the Turbo S is only 1mpg city.
No doubt it’s helped by the mild hybrid system and of course YMMV, but that’s pretty good for the segment. The Mazda is AWD only, but it beats a lot of competitors in their two-wheel-drive form: for 6-cylinder competitors, Pilot & Palisade are 19/27, Telluride 20/26, Pathfinder 20/27, Traverse 18/27; for some turbo 4s, Mazda has a slight edge in city – Explorer 2.3 is 21/28 and Highlander 22/29. Tops the Ascent’s 20/26 as well for another standard AWD, and turbo-4 example.
Atlas in its most efficient form (2.0T FWD) is 21/25, but there’s an updated one coming so that’s TBD.
Too many trim levels and price points. That would seem to lead to confusion in the market, and potential customers shopping elsewhere.
Perhaps it would be good to take a page out of Jeep’s book and have a CX90 and a Grand CX90. Or something to that effect.
I imagine with these paywalled engine power options, they’re pricing in the increased warranty liability that comes with higher boost and power output.
I dig the idea of a hybrid that can tow a small travel trailer and doubles as a 1500W generator. Of course, a hybrid 1-ton pickup with a truck camper that could tow a horse trailer would be even niftier.
‘I dig the idea of a hybrid that can tow a small travel trailer and doubles as a 1500W generator. Of course, a hybrid 1-ton pickup with a truck camper that could tow a horse trailer would be even niftier.’
Have you looked at the Ford F150 hybrid? You want 1500W? Try 7200W! Plus it automatically runs the engine to keep the current flowing when the battery runs out.
They need to stick with three levels. That’s all you really need. Vinyl, Cloth, and Rich Corinthian Leather.
True, except they should add one lower trim tier below the vinyl, because the vinyl is still a bit too pricey for some.
Yes. Upside down milk crate trim would be nice.
Call it shitbox for all I care. I’d wear it with pride.
Upsidedown 5 gallon bucket sitting on floor?
Used car “looks like there was a knife fight in here”
It’s got more levels of trim than Marqueyssac garden.
Although I’m sure the aftermarket will deal with this in short order, keeping the full power straight six behind a 5 figure paywall is lame as hell. I’m getting pretty damn tired of manufacturers pulling this crap. Oh, you want a manual rather than a pitiful CVT? You can unlock it…once you fully load the car, that is. Oh, you want this specific color? Sorry, that’s only available with the Ultra Premium Luxe 3.0 package which costs $8,000 and you can only equip it if you also add the Techbro Package for $4,400. That’ll give you all the driver assists but you’ll need to pay a monthly subscription service for it. We’re soooooooooooo sorry!
And all these companies have the audacity to ask why we don’t like them. THIS is why. Intentionally detuning the powertrain that’s one of the biggest selling points for this model to force people into more expensive cars. It’s a classic bait and switch. And once you’re dropping $55-70k on this is it really worth it anymore? I like Mazda but for that much cashola I’m probably buying from a legitimate luxury brand.
Agreed. This is exactly what the CPU world dealt with for a while, but the aftermarket dealt with that very quickly, and now the manufactures have stopped trying to paywall, and just design different options. This hopefully stops very quickly.
Speaking of CPUs- I just want to shout out to Gigabyte, they’re always finding ways to make low end CPUs better and unlock locked features. I loved the phenom days when you could buy a 3 core CPU and unlock it to 4 cores, or now if you buy a cheap gigabyte a520 ryzen board that locks out overclocking, gigabyte gives it right back to you in the bios. Haha
I’m not saying it’s right, but hasn’t VW been doing that for years?
Car enthusiasts: We need more trim variations on cars so that I can get all the stuff I want and nothing I don’t.
Also car enthusiasts: Not like that.
Putting the full power of the engine behind a paywall is exceedingly lame
I don’t think most of us are asking for more trim levels as much as we’re asking for more options independent of trim levels. I want ventilated seats, but not all the stuff that goes into the high trim level that has them, for example. Having 11 trim levels doesn’t give me a base model with ventilated seats.
That said, I think the main criticism here is that the trim levels don’t all seem particularly distinct, so they can be a bit hard to parse.
à la carte Options = Good
Option Packages = Mixed
Options exclusive to Option Packages or Trim Levels = Bad
Good Options that must be bundled with Option Packages that include shit you don’t want = Go fuck yourselves
One that was really funny to me: Kia Sportage was showing off a decent blue and grey interior in some promos. It is available on the mid-trim hybrid only, for some reason. Not the highest trim, not the normal gasser, not the PHEV. And the red interior isn’t available with a red exterior. Just weird limitations all over the place.
I get that moving to a rich Corinthian leather or something can change the available colors, but only things like material changes should dictate different available colors, I think.
When the Stinger first came out, the only option for the blue exterior was black leather. I wanted white. went to the dealer, all blue ones had the white leather. At EVERY. dealer. Why you wouldn’t know that until you got there was beyond me, but at least I got the impossible-to-keep-clean seats I wanted! Kias configurator is whack
Right, because “shit you don’t want” is the same for everyone?
Have they said what the PHEV electric range is supposed to be? Not seeing it anywhere. 30+ miles and maybe I’m interested.
They don’t have the range, but they do have the charging time. I would imagine it will be between 24-38 miles total. That seems to be the range for most SUV PHEV’s.
I find this massively confusing. In some ways, it is simply derivative of the fact there are several powertrains choices and they each get different trims, but dang that added up quick.
Anyway, I hope they sell a shit ton of them so the MX-5 lives forever and maybe they come out with something else too. I’ve long given up on an RX-9, but uh, the RX-Vision had quite a long hood, almost enough for an inline six, yes?
That many trim levels makes me like it less for some reason.
I get this take… it’s more the use of “Premium Plus” and dissimilar matching of trim levels between Turbo and Turbo S models for me.
Sidebar: I get not using a “sport” trim level, because it’s stupid, but WTF does “plus” do for anyone? There’s no bragging rights in this vegetable soup of model names anyway as the big difference is which power train option is selected. We used to have acronyms that didn’t mean much, but at least they weren’t adjectives/nouns that are supposed to elicit some sort of felling with the model I picked. They could’ve brought back touring or grand touring, at least it tied with the activity of driving and not “I have the better cell phone model”.
With that out of the way, I do really love this vehicle and I hope people buy the hell out of it and keep plucky Mazda around. This pays the Miata bills.
11 seems excessive, couldn’t they scale it back to, say, Deluxe, Limited, and Limited Brougham?
Person 1: Hey man check out my new Turbo S
Person 2: Oh shit, you bought a Porsche?
Person 1: …