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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