2024 Mazda CX-90 flagship: new, worthy SUV

James Raia

The three-row sport utility vehicle segment is refreshingly competitive. The 2024 Mazda CX-90 debuts impressively in the field of all-stars including recent additions like the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Volkswagen Atlas.

The long-standing Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot have maintained their top rankings for decades.

Mazda hadn’t offered a new generation of its flagship CX-9 since 2016. With competitors always improving, the CX-90 is the manufacturer’s new front-and-center offering. The CX-9 is gone. The new vehicle’s wheelbase is 7.5 inches longer and the engine has also grown and is more versatile.

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 is new and fits impressively into the competitive, three-row SUV segment.
The 2024 Mazda CX-90 is the carmaker’s new flagship model and it’s a top-rated SUV.

The carmaker’s planned infiltration into the marketplace is overt. The 2024 Mazda CX-90 is available in 11 configurations, including the reviewed PHEV Premium Plus. Eight models are offered with turbocharged engines. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has an electric-only range of 26 miles. It’s included with Mazda’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and a 17.8-kWh battery.

Impressive performance stats are uncommon in three-row SUVs, but the new Mazda surprises again. The 329-horsepower engine is propelled by an eight-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle advances from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds. It’s an impressive result for a non-luxury family hauler and further improves the vehicle’s consistent smoothness.

Mazda’s reworking of the interior complements the engine specs. Improved materials, a better design, more space and an overall upscale feel provide a welcoming travel experience. Contrast upholstery stitching and two-tone fabrics add to the sensory enjoyment.

The infotainment approach is user-friendly. The Mazda CX-90 has a 12.3-inch infotainment screen atop the dashboard. Its positioning lends itself toward a retractable feature, but the screen is static. The center console has a clean look, with dials and switches appropriately placed.

With increased competition, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 is the carmaker's new flagship and debuts impressively.
The 2024 Mazda MX-90 is available with upscale Artisan Red exterior paint for $595.

The short shifter handle adds to the airy interior feel and it also presents the CX-90’s only shortcoming. Starting the vehicle requires maneuvering the shifter into parking mode and re-engaging the start button. It’s unique to Mazda and requires practice.

Small touches are impressive, like USB ports for third-row occupants. Higher trims also feature a smart rearview mirror. It automatically adjusts to reduce glare from other vehicles’ headlights. It also triggers security lights, entry gates or garage doors for quick entry with the touch of a button.

Mazda promotes the CX-90 as an eight-passenger vehicle, but like ofter carmakers’ embellishments, the SUV is best suited for seven occupants. Overall, the space is satisfactory in all rows. But seat assignments for multiple-occupant treks is best accomplished with smaller people in the third row.

Carmakers have done a credible job configuring three-row SUVs for efficiently utilizing cargo space. The CX-90 follows the trends, the second and third rows adjustable for hauling a good supply of non-human cargo as needed. The power liftgate work swiftly.

Beyond its strong acceleration, the CX-90 offers a quiet overall ride in city and highway driving. It has 21-inch wheels and feels secure on the road. Surprisingly, it’s not as smooth negotiating road bumps and other road imperfections.

The reviewed CX-90 has an MSRP of $56,950. The head-turning Artisan Red exterior paint color choice is a worthwhile $595 extra. The deep sheen adds another touch of class to the new vehicle. With taxes and destination charges, the Mazda CX-90 is priced at $58,920.

Loyalists to Toyota and Honda may not change their buying preferences. And it’s likely Kia and Hyundai have secured a new base of buyers.

But Mazda is a worthy alternative for new buyers in the three-row segment. It’s comparable to its rivals, a car-buying segment in which high quality is the norm.

Article Last Updated: July 27, 2023.

Leave a Reply

Share to...