Mazda CX-90 Premium Plus Review


2024 Mazda CX-90
2024 Mazda CX-90

Readily competitive with similarly sized models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, the CX-90’s “social climbing” nameplate doesn’t quite carry the same cachet as those “old money” offerings with their lengthy pedigrees. However the upstart CX-90 is just as nicely appointed. The Mazda is also just as handsomely styled and just as enjoyable to drive. In other words, Mazda has pulled the CX-90 up by its bootstraps to be a true luxury contender.

Trim
Premium Plus

Model
CX-90

Engine/Motor
11kW Synchronous Electric Motor

Horsepower
280 @ 5,000 RPM

Torque
332 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM

Drivetrain
Front Engine, Electric Motor, AWD

Transmission
8-Speed Automatic

MSRP
$39,595

0-60 MPH
6.0 Seconds

Towing Capacity
5,000 Pounds

Engine
3.3L DOHC Hybrid Turbo I-6,
Pros
  • Responsive engine
  • Smoothness and refinement
  • Beautiful interior
  • Handsome styling
  • Nicely equipped
Cons
  • Nameplate lacks high-end cachet
  • Modest third row legroom
  • Street only SUV
  • Fabric accents asking for stains from kids
  • Less spacious than top competitor

Throughout American history, people have looked down upon so-called “social climbers”—even while expressing admiration for those who “manage to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Remarkably, this is the position in which Mazda finds itself with the 2024 CX-90.



Readily competitive with similarly sized models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes, the CX-90’s “social climbing” nameplate doesn’t quite carry the same cachet as those storied brands. After all, these are the “old money” offerings with hard-won pedigrees. Meanwhile, the upstart CX-90 is just as nicely appointed as its high society counterparts. The Mazda is also just as handsomely styled and just as enjoyable to drive. In other words, Mazda has pulled the CX-90 up with its own bootstraps.

Replacing the CX-9 in Mazda’s lineup, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is built atop an all-new platform, which includes a new engine and new mild hybrid powertrain. The mid-sized Mazda SUV can also be had as a plug-in hybrid. What’s more, all of this goodness is on offer at a starting price of $39,595 and an as-tested price of $52,950. Thus, the question becomes; will luxury buyers appreciate Mazda’s new flagship for its accomplishments? Or will they turn up their noses because the CX-90’s brand name isn’t considered “premium” enough?

In order to provide you with an honest and unbiased review, the vehicle reviewed in this article was driven on a daily basis throughout the course of daily life for a period of one week. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our methodology policy.


2024 Mazda CX-90 Premium Plus First Impressions

“Nice car, what is it?” I got that question nearly every time I got out of the CX-90, or walked up into public settings. Such is the degree of curiosity aroused by the graciously styled Mazda. Resplendent in its Rhodium White Metallic paint and white Nappa leather upholstery, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 radiates style, luxury and performance potential.

The largest model that Mazda sells in North America, it also exudes an air of refinement, which is capably supported by its smooth and responsive inline six-cylinder turbocharged powerplant and gracious interior treatment. Keep in mind too; all of this is before we even get to the Mazda’s spaciousness, comfort and engaging performance. Long story short; this crossover SUV delivers more than is expected in practically every measure. Given the way it looks, the way it drives and the features it offers, Mazda could easily tack another $10k onto the base price.

Exterior Dimensions

Length

201.6 Inches

Width

77.6 Inches

Height

68.7 Inches

Wheelbase

122.8 Inches

Front Track

67.1 Inches

Rear Track

67.2 Inches

Curb Weight

4,709 Pounds

Driving Impressions And Performance

The model I drove was equipped with a 3.3-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, supplemented by a 48-volt, 11kW hybrid setup. Total system output was rated at 280 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. And yes, I did say inline six-, which you’d typically expect to find in the engine compartment of a BMW or perhaps a Land Rover. This is a fundamental contributor to what I mean when I say Mazda has been bootstrapping—big time. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive complete the powertrain.

By the way, if those horsepower and torque figures strike you as being somewhat underwhelming, you can always go for the 340-horsepower CX-90 S. The plug-in hybrid version I mentioned delivers 323 horsepower. Frankly, though, before allowing your ego to push you into overlooking the 280-horsepower engine, do yourself a favor and drive it first. I found it to be smooth, powerful and more than adequate in every situation.

Braking And Acceleration

Another plus, Mazda did not abandon its penchant for building driver’s cars with the CX-90. Agility and responsiveness are vividly on display. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how much fun driving the CX-90 is. Moreover, the Mazda-designed eight-speed automatic transmission shifts with the seamlessness I’ve come to expect from continuously variable transmissions. Gear changes were only mildly perceptible, and ratio choices were always appropriate.

Along with that, I also found the CX-90 to be quiet and comfortable on the highway. That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the CX-90 is largely a pavement-only proposition. Yes, it’s capable of “soft-roading,” but you’ll rip the bottom out if you get anywhere near the Rubicon trail. Of course, given that crossovers like the CX-90 seldom experience dirt roads—let alone rugged two-tracks—this isn’t a demerit in my book. Towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds.

Performance Specifications

Engine

3.3-liter Turbocharged V-6

Motor

11kW Synchronous

Transmission

8-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

280 HP @ 5,000 RPM

Torque

332 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM

Fuel Economy (CMB)

27 MPG (Observed)

0-60 MPH

6.3 Seconds

Towing Capacity

5,000 Pounds

Payload Capacity

2,145 Pounds

2024 Mazda CX-90 Fuel Economy

The EPA says to anticipate 24 MPG in the city, 28 on the highway and 25 overall from the 280-horsepower CX-90 Premium I drove. I actually bested this by 2.0 MPG overall. According to the trip computer, the CX-90 managed a 27 MPG average. This resulted from a mix of rational city and highway operation, coupled with a bit of spirited back road barnstorming. Yes, the 323 horsepower plug-in hybrid would likely do better. Conversely, the 340 horsepower S would likely do worse. Meanwhile, Mazda’s 27 MPG figure places it right between its two chief competitors, Toyota’s Grand Highlander and Kia’s Telluride. However, neither of those vehicles offers the CX-90’s engaging driving experience.

Mazda CX-90 Premium Plus

City

Highway

Combined

EPA Rated Economy

24 MPG

28 MPG

25 MPG

As Tested

27 MPG

Related
What Makes The Mazda CX-90 Plug-in Hybrid Special

The CX-90 three-row SUV takes over from the CX-9 with a luxurious and engaging driving persona presented in three trim choices.

Comfort, Ease of Use and Practicality

As has now become de riguer, a digital infotainment monitor dominates the dash. The interface can be controlled on a touchscreen or with the rotary dial on the center console. Voice commands also trigger a selected range of functions. Wireless CarPlay and Android compatibility are standard, along with wireless smartphone charging. Complementing the 12.3-inch digital infotainment display, “my” CX-90 also had the optional 12.3-inch digital instrumentation monitor. Driver assistance tech included traffic sign recognition, lane keeping and radar-based cruise control

Cross traffic alert and braking for both the front and rear was fitted as well. The Mazda was also equipped with a 150W AC outlet. Bringing home the groceries for a family of four with the third row deployed is entirely possible. You’ll find more than enough room back there to do so. That same family of four could also do a two-week road trip in the CX-90 with the third row folded away. In fact, the cargo compartment could righteously be called cavernous with the third row folded flat. The Mazda also offers a low lift-over height for the cargo compartment, making it easily loaded—and unloaded. You’ll find plenty of storage for personal items in the door panels, center console and glove box too.

Minimum Cargo Capacity

14.9 Cubic-Feet

Cargo Capacity Third-Row Folded

40 Cubic-Feet

Cargo Capacity Second-Row Folded

74.2 Cubic-Feet

2024 Mazda CX-90 Premium Plus Vs. Competitors

The CX-90’s looks, powertrain interior accouterments and road manners make it a worthwhile consideration alongside Audi’s Q5, BMW’s X5 and Mercedes’ GLE. However, the price point at which Mazda offers the CX-90 lands it between Kia’s Telluride, which starts at $36,190 and Toyota’s Grand Highlander, which is based priced at $43,320. Like the Mazda, the Kia shines with premium interior fittings, handsome exterior styling and a smooth powerplant. Meanwhile, Grand Highlander’s virtues include an exceptionally spacious interior, with more than abundant cargo capacity. The Toyota also has a family-friendly nature and third-row seating capable of accommodating grownups.

Gray 2024 Kia Telluride X-Pro
Kia

How The Mazda CX-90 Compares to the Kia Telluride

  • 2024 Kia Telluride 2024 Mazda CX-90
    Model Telluride CX-90
    Horsepower 291@ 6,000 RPM 280 @ 5,000 RPM
    Torque 262 LB-FT @ 5,200 RPM 332 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM
    Drivetrain Front Engine, AWD Front Engine, Electric Motor, AWD
    Transmission 8-Speed Automatic 8-Speed Automatic
    MSRP $36,190 $39,595
    0-60 MPH 7.5 Seconds 6.0 Seconds
    Towing Capacity 5,500 Pounds 5,000 Pounds
    Engine 3.6L V-6 3.3L DOHC Hybrid Turbo I-6,

The Kia outscores the Mazda in most comparisons. After all, it too offers handsome exterior styling and a compelling interior treatment with beaucoup standard features and contemporary tech—but at a lower price point. Further, Telluride can be had in a version capable of dealing with gentle off-roading. The Kia also rides nicely, is quiet and offers adequate cargo capacity.

Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid
Toyota

However, the Telluride lacks the athleticism the Mazda so gleefully displays. Throttle response isn’t as sharp as the CX-90’s, nor does Telluride offer the same degree of agility. Simply put, the Mazda is more fun to drive—by a long shot. And yes, I know that matters not one whit to most people. However, if you’re someone who enjoys the trip as much as the destination, you’re likely to enjoy the journey more in the Mazda CX-90.

How The Mazda CX-90 Compares to the Toyota Grand Highlander

  • 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander 2024 Mazda CX-90
    Model Grand Highlander CX-90
    Horsepower 265 @ 6,000 RPM 280 @ 5,000 RPM
    Torque 310 LB-FT @ 1,700 RPM 332 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM
    Drivetrain Front Engine, AWD Front Engine, Electric Motor, AWD
    Transmission 8-Speed Automatic 8-Speed Automatic
    MSRP $43,320 $39,595
    0-60 MPH 7.5 Seconds 6.0 Seconds
    Towing Capacity 5,000 Pounds 5,000 Pounds
    Engine 2.4L Turbo I-4 3.3L DOHC Hybrid Turbo I-6,

When it comes to family transportation, the Toyota Grand Highlander rules the roost among this trio. An extended wheelbase iteration of the standard Highlander, the Grand Highlander is the only one of these three capable of comfortably accommodating full-grown people in its third row. It also surpasses both of them in cargo capacity. What’s more, in keeping with its “Grand” designation, the Toyota offers an upscale interior treatment with high quality materials, all the latest tech, and a handsome layout, too.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Limited Wind Chill Pearl
Lyndon Conrad Bell / TopSpeed

On the other hand, the Grand Highlander is also the least engaging driver among the three vehicles here. Prioritizing comfort over agility, the Toyota’s steering is a bit light and its responsiveness is compromised when compared to the CX-90’s on twisty roads. These traits prove more than adequate in terms of enabling the Grand Highlander to fulfill its mission as better than competent family transportation. However, they leave Toyota trailing Mazda in the fun to drive department—by a significant margin.

Our Recommendation For Which Model You Should Buy

In case you have yet to figure this out about me, I love to drive. In fact, one could say I have a passion for it. So, with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to find me leaning toward the Mazda CX-90 here. After all, we’re looking at a smooth, responsive and powerful powertrain, coupled with delightful agility. That the Mazda is the driver’s car when compared to the Kia and Toyota is unquestionable.

Meanwhile, the Mazda’s interior treatment would be considered appropriate in a Jaguar and its sophisticated exterior styling radiates chic. Fold in the CX-90’s comfortable ride quality, ample convenience features and generous array of contemporary driver aids, and you have a compelling offering that could easily command $10,000 more than Mazda asks for its new flagship.

Which brings into play a word you’ll seldom find applied to the posh Germans to which the Mazda so handily compares—value. So, is the Mazda CX-90 to be considered a social climber, or is this indeed a case of an underdog pulling itself up by its bootstraps? Whatever your opinion, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is certainly worthy of your consideration.

All specifications via Mazda, unless noted otherwise.

FAQ

Q: Is the Mazda CX-90 reliable?

According to Consumer Reports, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is expected to be more reliable than most cars. This assessment is based upon Mazda’s overall brand scores from J.D. Power.

Q: Where is the Mazda CX-90 built?

The Mazda CX-90 is built in Japan in the city of Hōfu, which is in the Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Q: Does the 2024 Mazda CX-90 have remote start?

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 uses Mazda Connected Services with the MyMazda App. This permits remote starting, locking and unlocking doors, as well as vehicle status reports.



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