Upcoming CX-90 looks like a major step up from the current CX-9.
If you want a premium experience in your SUV but can't stretch to one of the German marques, Mazda is an excellent middle ground. Models like the CX-50 and CX-9 continue to deliver upscale interiors and a spirited driving experience, but the brand is moving even further upmarket with the upcoming CX-90. One of several new SUVs confirmed by the brand last year, the CX-90 will be the most luxurious of them all. This three-row SUV has the North American market in mind and promises more than enough power from its six-cylinder powertrains, as well as a plug-in hybrid variant. Like the smaller CX-70, the CX-90 will employ Mazda's new longitudinal architecture and new larger platform, which promises to elevate the driving experience.
The release date for the Mazda CX-90 isn't too far off - production of the upscale crossover is slated to begin at the end of 2022. Local dealerships in the USA expect delivery of the first units to be in the first quarter of 2023.
When it arrives, this is likely to be the most expensive model from the Japanese brand. The 2023 Mazda CX-90's price is expected to start from around $40,000, although $45k wouldn't be a stretch - more than the current CX-9 it is expected to supersede. The top trim will probably cost close to $55,000 MSRP in the USA.
With three seating rows, the new Mazda CX-90 SUV will compete against rivals like the Kia Telluride, which starts at a cheaper $33,390. Another competitor is the Honda Pilot, which begins at $38,080. Like the Mazda, both of these vehicles boast three rows and six-cylinder power.
Over the last few years, Mazda has designed some of the most attractive crossovers you can buy. From the discontinued CX-3 to the rugged CX-50, they all have a premium look with clean lines. Hopefully, the exterior of the Mazda CX-90 continues this trend. We haven't seen the final design yet, but it's likely to be an elongated version of the CX-60. That car is clearly an evolution of the CX-5/CX-50 siblings with a similar grille, although there are new touches like daytime running lights that extend into the grille itself.
Unique front intakes and an absence of rugged black body cladding are expected, since the 2023 CX-90 is expected to be a more luxury-oriented model prioritizing on-road performance. The CX-90's longer body should create a unique profile as it needs to accommodate a third row.
We don't know what the Mazda CX-90's colors will be yet, but the brand isn't known for going wild in this area. Hopefully, the signature Soul Red Crystal Metallic is available.
Dimensions for the Mazda CX-90 have not been published at this point, but we do know that the CX-90 will be built on an all-new large platform with new longitudinal architecture. It is punted as the largest, most advanced Mazda destined for America.
For reference, the CX-9 (pictured below) is currently the largest in the Mazda fleet. It measures 199.4 inches in length, 77.5 inches in width, 69 inches in height, and has a 115.3-inch wheelbase. The CX-9's starting curb weight of 4,409 pounds is a good reference point, although the hybridized CX-90 is likely to exceed this with its additional electric components.
The new Mazda CX-90 engine and powertrain layout will mark quite a change from the CX-9. Whereas the CX-9 has a transverse-mounted four-cylinder engine, the CX-90 is coming with a six-cylinder unit mounted longitudinally. This dictates that the CX-90 will be offered with rear- or all-wheel drive, and the AWD system could be a rear-biased setup with sportier driving dynamics.
In the CX-60, the new 3.0-liter e-Skyactiv X gas engine with M Hybrid Boost, essentially Mazda's own 48V mild-hybrid system, is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. We don't know what the outputs of this engine are yet but it should be more powerful than the CX-9's turbo-four which makes 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium gas.
Another six-cylinder unit, a 3.3-liter e-Skyactiv D diesel, isn't expected in the USA. However, what should arrive stateside is a four-cylinder plug-in hybrid with an electric motor. In the CX-60, a powertrain like this - Mazda's first PHEV - with a 2.5-liter gas engine makes a strong 322 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque combined. That makes it the most powerful Mazda ever, although the larger CX-90 could be tuned to surpass it.
The CX-60 PHEV can go from 0-62 mph in 5.8 seconds, so the heavier CX-90 will probably do the sprint in just over six seconds unless it comes with more power.
The mild-hybrid Mazda CX-90's mpg ratings are unknown at this stage, although with its mild-hybrid system, it promises to be more economical than the Kia Telluride's V6; the Telluride attains 19/24/21 mpg city/highway/combined with AWD. As for the CX-90 PHEV, we only have some CX-60 PHEV specs to work with. The latter has a 17.8-kWh battery and a WLTP-rated all-electric range of 39 miles.
It's a pity that the diesel isn't coming here because the low-output version of that engine is capable of 48 mpg, although that is also based on the more optimistic WLTP cycle.
This should be another area where the CX-90 leaps ahead of the competition. We haven't seen any Mazda CX-90 interior images yet but the smaller CX-60 (pictured below) already raised the bar inside with materials like maple wood and gorgeous Japanese textiles. The Mazda CX-90's seats should also come wrapped in soft Nappa leather, along with seat heating and ventilation depending on the trim.
Other than classy materials, the CX-90 will be practical with its third row, which will raise seating capacity to seven. We anticipate second-row captain's chairs and a panoramic moonroof. In terms of technology, Mazda continues to be a class leader in terms of ergonomics, since not every possible feature is buried in a maze of touchscreen menus. It's likely that an updated infotainment system and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available.
While ambient lighting, a head-up display, and an available 360-degree monitor can be expected, the CX-90 will most likely feature premium safety technology, including blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and lane keep assist. Like the CX-60, the CX-90 should be available with a new personalization system that adjusts pre-configured settings like the seat position and steering wheel using facial recognition.
The new CX-60 has just over 20 cubic feet of space behind its second row. That's rather unremarkable, but Mazda crossovers have never been the most practical. Still, the Mazda CX-90's cargo space should be a bit better than this when its third row is folded.
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