Class: Midsize Crossover
Color: Rhodium White
Miles driven: 207
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B+|
|Power and Performance||B+|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide’s impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. “Big” rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, “Tall” rating based on 6’6″-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||340-horsepower 3.3-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbo inline six mild hybrid|
Observed fuel economy: 24.2 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 23/28/25 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Premium gas
Snow Performance: N/A
Base price: $59.950 (not including $1375 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($595)
Price as tested: $61,920
The great: Modern and upscale cabin, European drive experience
The good: Plenty of passenger space, decent fuel economy
The not so good: May feel like a lot of money for a Mazda
Mazda has been talking about bringing the brand upscale for a while now. This to improved product margins, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to complete less directly with the likes of Honda and Toyota.
Evidence of this transition is apparent in a number of recent product launches. A new CX-30 subcompact has replaced the entry-level CX-3 in the showrooms, with the new vehicle growing slightly in size, content, and price.
The new CX-50 was added to the lineup to supplement the compact CX-5 in showrooms, with the new crossover being positioned as a premium alternative to the ‘5.
Even the Mazda 3 compact car has been elevated somewhat, with 250-horsepower upper trim levels that, incautiously optioned, lists for more than $40,000 in hatchback form. Note that Mazda 3 sedans still start for as little as $23,000, so it seems that Mazda wants to keep one foot in the affordability waters for at least a while yet.
While all this serves as evidence that the Japanese maker is, indeed, taking its U.S.-market lineup upscale, there’s no new model that truly moves Mazda upscale in a big way, nothing to pull premium-brand shoppers into showrooms. Well, there wasn’t. Enter the 2024 Mazda CX-90 midsize crossover.
New this year, the CX-90 replaces the CX-9 in Mazda’s lineup, and is the most convincingly premium product added to the maker’s portfolio since its plans to do so were made clear a few years ago.
And while the CX-90 is similar is size and functionality to the outgoing CX-9, it is a very different vehicle. And, a much better one. The new crossover is built on the maker’s Large Product Group architecture and features a rear-drive layout, and longitudinally arranged drivetrain. Power comes from a turbocharged 3.3-liter inline 6-cylinder rated at 280 horsepower in lower trim levels, and 340 horsepower in upper trims featuring the S suffix. The CX-90 engine is augmented by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system which helps to improve fuel economy and provides additional torque at low speeds. The new powertrain represents a major bump in power over the CX-9’s 227-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder setup.
A plug-in hybrid variant with up to a reported 26 miles of all-electric range is reportedly being added to the CX-90 lineup in the near future.
For ’24, the CX-90 is offered in eight trim levels. From most afford to most luxurious, they are: 3.3 Turbo Select, 3.3 Turbo Preferred, 3.3 Turbo Preferred Plus, 3.3 Turbo Premium, 3.3 Turbo Premium Plus, 3.3 Turbo S, 3.3 Turbo S Premium, and 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus. All CX-90s come standard with AWD.
Consumer Guide recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus in Rhodium White Metallic with Tan Nappa cabin appointments. With no options except for the extra-cost paint, our test car came to $61,920, making it the first Mazda we’ve ever driven that listed for more than $60,000. Yet, even at that price, our big, expensive Mazda did not disappoint.
We don’t usually comment on vehicle design, but the CX-90 merits a little discussion in this regard. Though perhaps less boldly sculpted than vehicles from, say, Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, the CX-90 boasts a tough, linear profile, and comes of generally more muscular than the CX-90 did. Without employing excessive dollops of brightwork, Mazda managed to give its big new crossover an upscale look, without the exaggerated trim elements that usually accompany such an effort.
Starting inside, the CX-90 cabin presents as high end, and our test vehicles suede-accented dashboard and two-tone leather-finished steering wheel bring a serious dose of modern luxury to the proceedings. The perforated leather seats look and feel top notch, and metal-finish center console looks comes off a clean and European.
Though Mazda has stubbornly retained the brand’s much-reviled rotary knob control-system interface (note that this author does not dislike the system), it much simpler to operate in this application. And, though the touchscreen seems small by modern standards, it gets the job done. Graphics and icons and large and easily read at a glance, and the Bluetooth connection was easily established and remained reliable in play.
Our CX-90 cam equipped with 2nd-row captain’s chairs, limited total seating capacity to six passengers. There more than ample adult space in the first two rows, and better than average space in the last row, which is reasonably easily accessed once the 2nd-row seats are fully folded out of the way.
Underway, the CX-90’s firm Euro-luxury style ride comes into play. Mazda’s big may ride too firmly for some customers, but find the connected-to-the-road feel rewarding. Additionally, the handling is excellent for such a large vehicle.
The inline 6-cylinder engine is very smooth, and power deliver progressive and timely. The drivetrain is not perfect, however, as there is delay before initially moving once “drive” has been selected, as well as some clumsy and clunky transmission downshifting when coasting to a stop.
Fuel economy was a bright spot. Happy to report we saw better than 24 mpg in this large, powerful, AWD luxury crossover. Note that 280-horsepower versions of the CX-90 run on regular-grade gas, however Mazda recommends pricier premium fuel for 340-horse examples, such as our test truck.
While $60,000 feels like a lot of money for a Mazda, this big crossover certainly delivers the premium-experience goods. And, though Mazda is intent on moving the brand upmarket, plenty of its mainstream competitors offering midsize crossovers that price out over $50,000. Though we have to sample a less well-equipped CX-90, we suspect that even a base $41,000 3.3 Turbo Select feels pretty special. Mazda has built something pretty special in the CX-90, and we’re completely comfortable calling it a luxury vehicle.
2024 Mazda CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)