For the past few weeks, Mazda has been touting the merits of its latest vehicle, the CX-90. The Japanese brand promises something powerful yet efficient, based on a rear-wheel-drive platform infused with sporty features. Evoking emotion is also part of the promise, from the way it drives on the curvaceous exterior big enough for three rows of seats inside.
Now the wait is over. The 2024 Mazda CX-90 is unveiled and with up to 340 horsepower available, it is indeed the company’s most powerful production vehicle. It’s also a hybrid, combining varying degrees of electric propulsion depending on the powertrain chosen. Inside, you’ll find room for eight in a cabin that combines modern luxury with traditional Japanese aesthetics. And yes, there’s a bit of MX-5 Miata in its underpinnings, offering a bit more sport for this sport utility vehicle.
Two hybrid options, one transmission
By now, Mazda’s 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six engine should come as no surprise. Launched last year with the CX-60 offered in markets outside of the United States, it is the top-of-the-line grinder of the CX-90. However, it’s considerably more powerful here, putting out 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque sent to all four wheels. It’s not pure combustion power, however, as Mazda puts a small electric motor between the engine and transmission in a mild-hybrid setup. The company doesn’t offer individual horsepower ratings, but the motor is brave enough to move the CX-90 at slow speeds without needing the I6.
For those looking for a wider application of electric power, the second option is Mazda’s e-Skyactiv PHEV powertrain. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder works with an electric motor to generate a combined output of 323 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, once again to all four wheels. A 17.8 kilowatt-hour battery powers the motor, allowing the CX-90 to travel longer in electric-only mode. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s the same configuration offered in the CX-60 and as such the CX-90 likely has a similar all-electric range of around 39 miles. Note we said likely – Mazda has yet to announce official numbers for the CX-90 lineup.
Regardless of the engine, two things always remain the same. All-wheel drive is standard, and power hits the ground running through a new eight-speed automatic transmission that ditches the old-school torque converter. With electrification, Mazda says the power delivered with this transmission is smooth and direct while improving efficiency. We’ll have to believe Mazda on that last point, as mileage stats aren’t available yet. Similarly, the automaker isn’t ready to share acceleration or top speed numbers.
As for the nuances of MX-5 Miata in the CX-90, this is not a reference to its longitudinal layout of the powertrain. Mazda is equipping the big SUV with Kinematic Posture Control, which debuted on the 2022 Miata to give the sports car better balance and feel when cornering. The system applies light braking pressure to the inside rear wheel when cornering and, Mazda says, helps suppress body roll while giving the CX-90’s steering a linear feel.
Three-row seats, premium Japanese style
While the powertrain seeks a connection with enthusiasts, Mazda hopes the CX-90’s chic interior will connect with passengers. A central 12.3-inch infotainment screen sits atop the dash, complemented by a range of touch controls to operate commonly used features such as the seats and climate control. Another digital display is available for the driver and, depending on options chosen, features such as third-row climate control and USB-C charging ports are available. A full list of options will be available later.
All of this contributes to a theme of modern technology merged with a traditional environment. Several materials, from Nappa leather to wood and chrome, are found throughout the cabin. The dashboard features a special fabric with traditional Japanese stitching for a distinctive look. As with other details, Mazda isn’t yet offering data on things like headroom, legroom or cargo space.
More curves, fewer lines
In a world of rugged SUVs with contrasting edges and angles, Mazda gives the CX-90 a more organic look. Its rear is almost disproportionately large, to better accommodate the three-row seats inside. But the curves are also designed to improve reflections from the vehicle. Various trim packages will add or subtract chrome, and 21-inch wheels are available. A new exterior hue called Artisan Red makes its debut here, and underneath it all is Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of driver aids. Some systems like active cruise control, dynamic braking and blind spot monitoring are included as standard equipment.
Although the debut of the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is official, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Some of those things (performance, economy, interior space) we’ve already mentioned, but you can add price and production to the list. Expect to hear more from Mazda in the coming weeks as we get closer to the CX-90’s on-sale date.