Following in the footsteps of the CX-50—which is a CX-5 with a chunkier, more rugged vibe—Mazda just unveiled the CX-90. But things are more than a little different this time. Instead of leaning heavily on its three-row sibling, the CX-9, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 charts new territory, thanks to a series of changes that may not be apparent at first glance.
Let’s take a look at what CX-90 specs Mazda has revealed so far and see how they stack up against the CX-9.
The CX-90 is very different from the CX-9 before you’ve even stepped from the bumper to the A-pillars. The CX-90’s chassis features a longitudinal engine layout, a 90-degree shift from the CX-9’s transverse layout. Mazda claims this new arrangement will give the CX-90 additional handling punches.
Before you start wondering about a rear-wheel drive CX-90, allow us to burst your bubble. While a longitudinal-engine layout could allow for such a setup, the CX-90 will come with standard all-wheel drive, just like the CX-9.
Mazda also borrowed some of the MX-5 Miata’s chassis technology for its latest SUV. The CX-90 will come standard with Kinematic Posture Control, which it claims improves mid-corner stability by applying some braking to the inside rear wheel.
The Mazda CX-9 uses a single engine for the entire lineup, a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four that makes 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel — output drops by 23 hp and 10 pound-feet if you opt for the cheap stuff. All-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.
Meanwhile, the CX-90 will offer two powertrains with different degrees of electrification. The turbocharged 3.3-liter inline-six is Mazda’s most powerful engine yet, producing 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet on premium fuel and mated to a 48-volt hybrid system.
Those looking for extra electrons can opt for the plug-in hybrid CX-90, which joins a 2.5-liter inline-four and a single electric motor to make 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet — again on premium gas. With a 17.8 kilowatt-hour battery in tow, we expect the CX-90 PHEV’s electric range to be somewhere under 39 miles, as that’s what the smaller, Europe-only CX-60 PHEV on the European WLTP cycle can manage.
Both CX-90 variants will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s also quite the unique slushbox, with a multi-plate wet clutch in place of a torque converter, and it’s developed entirely in-house.
Mazda won’t give actual dimensions just yet, but we do know that the CX-90 is longer and wider than the CX-9.
When it comes to design, the CX-90 keeps it subtle, ditching the CX-9’s sharp character lines on the side and replacing them with smoother angles. The CX-90’s front fascia looks a little more vertical than the CX-9’s, which has a sharper grille angle that looks more hawkish. The CX-90’s headlights aren’t as slim as the CX-9’s, but out back, the newer SUV has sharper, thinner taillights.
Interior and cabin technology
The CX-90 will get a boost of interior versatility over the CX-9. While Mazda’s current three-row SUV can be arranged for either six or seven, the CX-90 will add the option to accommodate eight. Mazda hasn’t released actual interior dimensions yet, but the automaker told us the CX-90 will offer more interior space than the CX-9. We’d hope so if Mazda didn’t try to cram a whole ‘nother person in there.
It should come as no surprise that, being so much newer, the CX-90’s interior is easier on the eyes than the CX-9’s. The CX-9 still relies on older hardware, such as a taller gear lever, as well as last-generation steering wheel and infotainment controls. The CX-90 puts climate control knobs for switches, and the new gear lever is more compact. The steering wheel also looks a bit more elegant. And is that material we spy on the CX-90’s dashboard? You bet your bottom dollar it is.
Every CX-9 comes standard with a 10.3-inch infotainment screen that pops up from the dashboard, while the gauge cluster has either a 4.6-inch or a 7.0-inch LCD screen, depending of the finish. The CX-90 brings that technology a little closer to the present day, with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that we expect to be standard across the range. There’s a similarly sized digital gauge display in the binnacle, but that’s probably reserved for fancier variants.
Would you believe us when we say Mazda won’t talk about the CX-90’s price just yet? That said, the automaker did tell us to look at the difference in price between the CX-50 and the CX-5 and extrapolate from there. The CX-50 is nearly the same price as the CX-5 on the base level, and that delta rises to nearly $2,000 on the top trim. So it’s fair to assume the CX-90 will start in the low-$40,000 range, with top trims easily topping the $50,000 mark.