2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV review

By: James Diaz | April 9, 2024

With its 2.5-litre engine and clever battery system, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV is a fantastic option for a relatively high-performance SUV. You could also purchase the 2024 CX-90 with an Inline-6 turbo and a mild hybrid system, but you’ll find that review elsewhere.

The CX-90 is a brilliant option for a small family. In this review, we’ll delve into its many features and explain what makes it so appealing to so many buyers.

Standout Features

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV has many great features, but a few of them really stand out. These include the intuitive electric-only and hybrid modes, which allow you to carefully balance how much you use each power source. The interface and ease with which you use and understand these systems are better than most competitors.

Standout Features

Alongside this, the CX-90 PHEV has excellent MPGe thanks to a well-designed, if occasionally unrefined, hybrid powertrain. The transmission handles the power well, delivering a smooth, surprisingly nippy, if twisty, driving experience thanks to its rear axle bias and top-notch steering and suspension.

Exterior Design

Aesthetically, the 2024 CX-90 maintains its above-average design. It strikes a chord with drivers from many backgrounds. It’s subtle yet establishes its place on the road, giving the impression of refined power and elegance.

Exterior Design

A new CX-90 PHEV could come in a choice of paint colors. The deep blue is striking and comes as a standard option, although if you’re looking for an upgrade, consider the artisan red for a sleek coating. The standard black, white, and gray options are also available, of course. Oh, and on the Premium and Premium Plus, you get large 21-inch wheels – with a simple yet stunning design – as standard.

Interior Comfort

An eight-seat layout is standard in both the PHEV and the Inline-6. However, the middle row gets upgraded to two captain’s seats for the Premium and Premium Plus specs. Although this reduces the seating to seven, they’re far more comfortable for rear passengers.

Interior Comfort

On the Premium model, you also get that panoramic sunroof, wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and an upgraded twelve-speaker Bose stereo system alongside the captain’s seats. With napa leather and carefully styled plastic, you get a fine-looking finish typical of Mazdas. Without the leather, the base model, the Preferred, is still a handsome place to sit, especially compared to the interiors of some competitors.

Engine and Powertrain

In the CX-90 PHEV, you’ll get an electric motor (powered by a 17.8 kWh battery pack) attached to a 2.5-litre engine. The only transmission option is an eight-speed multi-plate-clutch automatic. The drivetrain is set up in that order (motor – engine – transmission), meaning you can sometimes hear the shifting even in EV mode.

Engine and Powertrain

With the batteries and the gasoline working in tandem, the combined drivetrain churns out an impressive 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, provided you fill your car with 93 octane fuel. Car and Driver found it to reach 60 mph in only 5.9 seconds, which was even quicker than the CX-90’s Inline-6 offering. This performance is a testament to the careful cooperation and supplementation between the electric motor and the internal combustion engine.

If there’s anything small to complain about, it’s a slight vibration that can sometimes be felt at low rpms. But this is a slight tinge on an otherwise brilliant drivetrain.

Battery

The battery system is where things really stand out for the CX-90 PHEV. By selecting the EV drive mode, you’ll isolate the combustion engine and run on electric power only. This has an impressive range of around 26 miles. If all you need to do is pop out to the shops or pick the kids up from school, you might well get there and back without using any gasoline at all!

Battery

However, you’ll need a standard wall charger to charge the batteries. It is usually possible to plug your car into one of your home’s standard 110 V external outlets, but you’ll have to leave it at least six hours to charge from 20% to 80%. Your electrical energy source will recharge in 30 minutes to one hour at a wall-mounted or public fast charger.

Fuel Economy and Range

With gasoline only, the EPA estimates you’ll get 24 MPG in the city and about 27 MPG on the highway. Not bad, not great. But the CX-90 PHEV is, of course, a hybrid, and this cooperation between its electric motor and engine is where things come into their own. Combined, these produce around 57 MPGe.

Fuel Economy and Range

As mentioned, if you drive carefully, you’ll get 26 miles out of the EV mode, with no gasoline required at all. Provided you can charge your CX-90 at home, this could make everyday travel much cheaper.

Handling

In reality, the CX-90 PHEV’s handling is good for an SUV. The drivetrain favors the rear wheels, giving the car that sporty and helping the driver center it through corners.

Handling

However, it’s still an SUV. In a class of cars designed for practicality, the height of the CX-90 – even though it’s smaller than many of its competitors – means you still feel that inevitable body roll if you put your foot down on winding country roads.

Towing

If you need a big SUV for towing a heavy load, you’ll likely need to look elsewhere. The small engine and PHEV setup mean the maximum weight you can tow is 3,500 lbs. In comparison, the Inline-6 version of the 2024 CX-90 can tow 5,000 lbs.

Towing

It’s also worth mentioning that the ball hitch is only an extra $126, but the full trailer hitch with a seven-pin harness will cost you $1,247.

Practicality

The CX-90 has something for everyone. As standard on a Mazda SUV, it comes with an all-wheel-drive setup with rear-axle bias. There’s plenty of cargo space in the trunk, even with the rear seats folded up, and the fuel economy and performance mean most drivers won’t find this car lacking in many departments.

Practicality

However, there are a few practical points worth mentioning. First, the third-row seats are typical to the type you find in smaller and mid-sized SUVs – they’re a tight fit, even for a child. And, although the fuel economy ratings are pretty good, you’ll need to run your car on premium fuel (93 octane, if possible!) to get the best results. This means you’ll pay more at the gas stations but see better engine performance and invest more in looking after it in the long term.

Driver Assistance

The CX-90 comes with fewer ADAS systems than others, but that’s not necessarily bad. It still has an awful lot. Most cars these days are flooded with all sorts of software designed to improve road safety.

Driver Assistance

On the CX-90 PHEV, although you get adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, automated braking (including pedestrian detection), and a wide-angle rear-view camera, there’s no Lane Assist.

Connectivity

You’ll get wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard on the Premium and Premium Plus models. While these software options are still available on the base Preferred trim, you’ll have to connect via a cable manually.

Connectivity

The infotainment display screen also varies depending on your trim selection. The Preferred and the Premium options come with 10.3-inch touchscreens. However, the Premium Plus has a bigger screen measuring 12.3 inches, which may make operation slightly more accessible for some people.

Warranty

Warranty-wise, you get a good, standard plan with the 2024 CX-90. The limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The powertrain is guaranteed for five years/60,000 miles, and the hybrid components for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Warranty

Unlike close competitors like the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, scheduled maintenance isn’t included. However, this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.

Price

So, with all this considered, what are we looking at regarding price? Before any additions, the lowest specification – the Preferred – starts at $49,945. The Premium model comes in at $54,400, while the Premium Plus, the top-level option, will set you back at least $57,450.

Price

So, how does it compare to others? The Mazda CX-90 PHEV is slightly above the average for PHEV SUVs, but not by much. It occupies that delicate market space between performance, practicality, and price. For example, the BMW X5 PHEV brings brilliant performance but at a higher price point of over $66,000. In contrast, the Hyundai Tucson PHEV does what Hyundai does best these days – a friendly all-rounder with prices beginning at $33,950.

Conclusion

The CX-90 PHEV is one of the best mid-range plug-in hybrids out there. Although it leans on the heavier end in terms of its price tag, it’s easy to see why it’s worth $50,000 or more.

If you’re looking for an exciting family car that’ll satisfy your occasional inclination to put your foot down, the CX-90 PHEV is well worth considering!