The CX-90, a spacious three-row SUV with an upscale appearance, is set to elevate the company’s largest SUV into the realm of luxury. Mazda has introduced a new inline-six engine in its highest S trim, boasting an impressive 340 horsepower.
A plethora of premium features graces the S variant, encompassing cozy second-row captain’s chairs, an immersive 12-speaker Bose sound system, interior-enhancing ambient lighting, expansive 21-inch wheels, a panoramic roof-spanning sunroof, a user-friendly hands-free power liftgate, and supplementary amenities.
Positioned as an upscale selection in the realm of three-row SUVs, the CX-90 showcases a tasteful exterior composition that seamlessly complements the opulence of its interior atmosphere.
The CX-90’s athletic stance is defined by its rounded rear and an integrated rear roof spoiler, setting it apart from the front-drive-focused CX-9. Notably, the CX-90 positions its cabin farther back, accompanied by a lengthened nose, an extended wheelbase, and a reduced front overhang, as exemplified by our CX-90 test car, elegantly finished in Rhodium White Metallic.
Exhibiting a more assertive interpretation of Mazda’s modern design aesthetics, the CX-90 skillfully integrates conspicuous chrome accents encircling the expansive vertical grille. This addition imparts a touch of sophistication as it elevates the lower fascia, smoothly extending across the flanks, tracing the rocker panels, and elegantly curving above the cabin area.
Highlighting the elongated dash-to-axle ratio achieved through the integration of a rear-wheel-drive architecture, the “Inline6” badge is visibly positioned on the front fenders. The muscular aesthetic is further enhanced by vertical air intakes at the front and striking 21-inch alloy wheels.
In contrast to rival crossover SUVs that often favor intricate cuts and creases, the CX-90 boasts a more sophisticated and polished exterior, marked by its smooth contours.
Upon entering the cabin, you’ll be greeted by tan nappa leather accents, while the dashboard features a cutting-edge 12.3-inch display screen. The center stack smoothly flows into a horizontal strip housing climate controls, leading to a recessed area purposefully crafted for mobile devices and other belongings.
For those seeking an extra dash of luxury, the option to outfit the center console with wood veneer awaits, heightening the sense of opulence. Positioned above the familiar infotainment control dial, the mechanical gear shifter seamlessly fuses style with practicality, while the elongated and sleek dashboard radiates top-tier craftsmanship, impeccably embodying the essence of the CX-90’s design.
This review highlights the CX-90, featuring a specially fine-tuned turbocharged 3.3-liter inline-6-cylinder engine matched with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The specific CX-90 model in the top-tier Turbo S Premium Plus trim is our subject, showcasing its noteworthy performance attributes.
One standout feature is the 8-speed automatic transmission, praised for its quick responsiveness and seamless gear changes, enhancing the driving experience by eliminating any unnecessary gear shifts.
With a robust 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the CX-90 showcased formidable on-road performance, achieving a 0 to 60 mph acceleration in just 6.3 seconds. Additionally, Mazda presents an appealing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant, previously test-driven this year (review accessible here).
With a 26-mile electric-only capability, the PHEV variant also delivers 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. However, the 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus model attains an ideal power-to-size ratio for the SUV’s dimensions.
The driving dynamics of the CX-90 stand out, characterized by reassuring stability and substantial steering feedback. Although the steering response could be improved, it outperformed rivals in its category. The precise handling and confident maneuvering of the CX-90 provided drivers with a sense of assurance, particularly at lawful speeds.
However, a slight drawback was associated with the drivetrain, as the all-wheel-drive arrangement displayed a subtle unevenness, coupled with the engine’s coarse sound at elevated RPMs. These noticeable and tactile experiences, especially during vigorous acceleration, took away from an otherwise serene and opulent driving ambience.
Adequate braking performance was matched with a finely-tuned ride quality in the CX-90. Skillfully merging its initial sporty character with a pleasantly smooth ride, the vehicle adeptly absorbed various road irregularities. Worth mentioning is that this accomplishment was attained through the implementation of fixed-rate dampers.
The integration of the i-stop system, which temporarily halts the engine at stops to conserve fuel, demonstrated an intriguing advantage. This feature effectively prevented the air conditioning from becoming stale or overly warm during stops, aided by the prolonged assistance from the mild hybrid system.
On highways, the CX-90 closely aligned with EPA approximations, achieving around 23 mpg in city conditions, 28 mpg on the highway, and a combined 25 mpg.
We had the chance to test the 2024 Mazda CX-90 S Premium Plus model for a week. This specific version had an MSRP of $59,950, but with the inclusion of the paint charge, which amounted to $595, the total comes to $61,920.
The latest Mazda CX-90 draws inspiration from its highly regarded seven-seat sibling, the CX-9. It takes the foundational principles of the CX-9 and elevates them to new levels. With a roomier interior and a transition towards an electrified powertrain, this enhanced version distinguishes itself through its rear-wheel drive platform.
Beyond these technical improvements, the CX-90 introduces an enhanced sense of luxury. It incorporates premium features that seamlessly integrate with a fresh and captivating design philosophy.
When compared to similar models like the RDX, Palisade, and XC90, the CX-90 stands out as an exceptional choice. While the Volvo XC90 is well-known for its mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options, making it a strong competitor, it particularly excels in its sophisticated infotainment system and impressive safety record.
Conversely, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are tailored to budget-conscious buyers seeking vehicles under $50,000. These models are celebrated for their attractive aesthetics and a wide range of features. However, it’s important to acknowledge that their use of V-6 powertrains does have some limitations.
In contrast, the Acura RDX not only exudes sophistication in its interior but also captivates enthusiasts with its performance-oriented Type S model. This specific variant seamlessly blends luxury with capability, leaving a lasting and impressive impression.