~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer
Mazda’s ongoing climb into the luxury/performance vehicle territory looks to have reached the summit with its all-new 2024 CX-90 Turbo S Premium Plus crossover sport utility vehicle.
About three decades ago, the Japanese manufacturer considered launching a separate luxury brand, dubbed the Amati, much as Toyota spawned the Lexus, Honda the Acura and, more recently, South Korea’s Hyundai developed the Genesis.
That moment passed and Mazda put its efforts into refining existing models to enhance performance with luxury accouterments. The CX-90, which replaces the CX-9, now is the brand’s top-of-the line offering.
It’s a big, three-row crossover SUV, nearly 17 feet long, with 176 cubic feet of space inside for passengers and cargo, and weighing about 5,200 pounds. It can be configured to carry six, seven or eight passengers, depending on whether the two rows of seats in back each accommodate three passengers or two separately. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds. As the French would say, “très formidable.”
The CX-90 now is based on rear-wheel drive architecture instead of the more common crossover front-drive platform. The company says it improves driving dynamics—no argument with that here—as well as enhances interior apace.
Power is provided by a new in-line six-cylinder engine that makes 280 or 340 horsepower, depending on the version, called trim levels in the industry. The latter requires premium fuel to reach its maximum power. In-line sixes are noted for smooth operation and are chosen for other luxury vehicles.
On the tested Turbo S Premium Plus version, the 3.3-liter six makes 340 horsepower with 369 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. The power also is boosted by a mild hybrid system with a 48-volt electric motor. A delicately shifting eight-speed automatic transmission transfers the grunt to all four wheels. The automatic mode is smoother than the driver can shift manually with the steering-wheel paddles.
There are two other versions of the CX-90 with different power trains: the Turbo with the 280-horsepower, 332 pound-feet of torque, 3.3-liter inline six, and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that uses a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 17.8 kWh battery pack for a system total of 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Given its weight and size, the new CX-90 is a sprightly critter, capable of nailing a zero-to-60 miles an hour run from rest in about six seconds. It does so smoothly with little racket from the engine. Road and wind noise also are muted in highway cruising and the ride only gets unsettled on the increasingly common pockmarked highways that seem to show up everywhere.
Inside, the tested CX-90 was loaded with luxury touches, including suede trim on the dashboard and seats that were upholstered in soft perforated nappa leather. The tester was equipped for six passengers, with captain’s chairs in the second row and seatbelts for two in the third row. Still, the third row is cramped for all but smaller humans and clambering back there requires agility and muscle.
A 12.3-inch color center screen on the tested CX-90 handles infotainment functions, some of which are controlled by a click wheel mounted on the center console. A premium Bose system with 12 speakers handled audio functions.
Other equipment included a navigation system, three-zone automatic climate control, hands-free power lift gate, 21-inch alloy wheels, body-colored rear roof spoiler, heated power folding outside mirrors, wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play, Bluetooth connectivity, Mazda connected services, Sirius XM satellite radio, power panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, aluminum roof rails, adaptive front lighting, and power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, leather covered.
A full suite of safety equipment is standard: automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, rear seat alert, traffic sign recognition, front and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera monitor, and front and rear parking sensors.
Most of the foregoing was included in the standard equipment of the CX-90 Turbo S Premium Plus model, which carried a base price of $61,325. With a short list of options that included the “rhodium white metallic paint,” heated second-row captain’s chairs, and a 150-watt accessory power outlet, the sticker price came to $61,920.
No surprise. Mazda’s incursion into the luxury category carries prices to match. With the CX-90 in all its iterations, it matches the old adage that “you get what you pay for.”
- Model: 2024 Mazda CX-90 Turbo S Premium Plus four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Engine: 3.3-liter in-line six-cylinder, turbocharged; 340 hp, 369 lb-ft torque; 48-volt electric hybrid system boost.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with a manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 16 feet 9 inches.
- Height: 5 feet 2 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 160/16 cubic feet.
- Weight: 5,200 pounds.
- Towing capability: 5,000 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 23/28/25 mpg. Premium gasoline required.
- Base price, including destination charge: $61,325.
- Price as tested: $61,920.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos ©Mazda
Leave a Reply