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Making vehicles that stand out in the crowded SUV segment is challenging, even for a reliable brand like Mazda. The three-row midsize CX-9 isn’t very different from its smaller siblings. It boasts a turbocharged engine, fun handling, and even standard all-wheel drive. Still, most buyers have bypassed the Mazda CX-9 for a rival with a V6 or V8. Though the CX-9’s sole powertrain is more efficient than most of the competition’s, it could benefit from hybrid technology. That’s where the 2024 Mazda CX-90 comes in.

Why is the 2024 Mazda CX-90 such a big deal?

2024 Mazda CX-90
2024 Mazda CX-90 | Mazda North American Operations

Mazda has had no hybrid, PHEV, or battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in its North American lineup. Last year, the Japanese automaker announced plans to market the CX-60 SUV overseas. This slightly larger version of the CX-5 packs a 323-hp hybrid powertrain and 39 miles of all-electric range.

According to Automotive News, the 2024 CX-90 is Mazda’s first plug-in hybrid model to hit U.S. shores. Up next will be the CX-70, a two-row midsize SUV. Mazda hasn’t revealed the CX-70’s exact specs, but Car and Driver speculates it might share the CX-60’s powertrain.

What we know about the 2024 Mazda CX-90

2024 Mazda CX-90 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) teaser
2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV teaser | Mazda North American Operations

Going on sale this spring, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 will replace the CX-9 entirely after the latter’s departure following the 2023 model year.

The outgoing CX-9 has a turbo-four engine producing 250 hp with premium fuel. It pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission. And with AWD, it gets an estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway.

However, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 introduces two new powertrains. The standard engine is a 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six harnessing 340 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque “using a mild hybrid system Mazda says provides efficiency without sacrificing performance,” MotorTrend reports. “This is Mazda’s most powerful engine to date and one that will distinguish the CX-90 from its main competitors.”

In addition, the 2024 CX-90 offers an optional e-Skyactiv PHEV powertrain. It uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a 17.8-kWh battery, making 323 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Car and Driver believes the CX-90 PHEV might get about 20 to 30 miles of electric-only range.

And like the CX-9, all CX-90 models come with standard AWD and seat up to seven riders. As of this writing, Mazda has yet to release pricing.

The retired Mazda CX-9 has been struggling to sell

GoodCarBadCar shows that the Mazda CX-9 returned some of the worst sales numbers for 2022. It finished the year with about 3,700 units sold in December. However, Mazda sold only 34,580 units the entire year.

For comparison, the Kia Telluride’s total sales for 2022 approached 100,000. And with 223,304 units sold, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling midsize SUV last year. The Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer followed closely.

To its credit, the Mazda CX-9 sold over 2,700 more units last year than in 2021. Not much changed for the 2023 model year, although the automaker eliminated the Sport trim in favor of the Touring. That means buyers get more standard features, including upscale leather seats with heating for all riders.

In addition, the Mazda CX-9 Touring has a moonroof, power-adjustable seats in the first two rows, and optional ambient lighting. Every CX-9 includes a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with smartphone integration and a digital voice-activated assistant. 

Most of the SUV’s advanced safety features are standard, with a few others added to each higher trim level. The Touring Plus adds standard ventilated front seats, and the Carbon Edition upgrades to heated second-row seats.

Despite all those features, the Mazda CX-9 couldn’t draw enough buyers to change its fate. However, from what Mazda has shown up thus far, the CX-90 will be a far more attractive choice.


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