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There are major changes for the midsize SUV segment with the first-ever Mazda CX-90 and the redesigned Honda Pilot. Both SUVs have many positive attributes. However, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 beats the 2023 Honda Pilot in one big way. It has more powerful engine options. 

2024 Mazda CX-90 has more powerful engines than the 2023 Honda Pilot

Front angle view of white 2024 Mazda CX-90 midsize SUV
2024 Mazda CX-90 | Mazda

Mazda has a history of infusing its vehicles with performance that exceeds most mainstream models. These vehicles provide a level of driving excitement that’s typically associated with luxury cars. This is the case with the smaller CX-30, CX-5, and CX-50 — as well as the similarly-sized CX-9. And with the first-ever 2024 Mazda CX-90, the Japanese automaker has pushed the envelope on the high-performance treatment.

The CX-90 offers potent engines, which are more powerful than what’s in the 2023 Honda Pilot. Prospective buyers of the new Mazda midsize SUV have a choice of three engine options. The first two are variants of a new turbocharged 3.3-liter inline-six engine with a 48-volt hybrid system. In the base 3.3 Turbo models, it delivers 280 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. And for the 3.3 Turbo S models, it churns out 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. Also, the Turbo S version is the most powerful engine ever produced by Mazda.

The third engine offered for the CX-90 is the new e-Skyactiv plug-in hybrid. Deriving power from an electric motor and a 2.5-liter inline-four engine, it generates an output of 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque.

In comparison, the Honda Pilot only has only one engine option: a 3.5-liter V-6. It produces 285 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.

2024 CX-90 likely has better ride quality and driving characteristics than the 2023 Pilot

Rear angle view of blue 2023 Honda Pilot midsize SUV
2023 Honda Pilot | Honda

We haven’t yet taken the 2024 Mazda CX-90 for a test drive, but all signs point to better ride quality and driving characteristics compared to the 2023 Honda Pilot. We base this on the impressive driving dynamics of the similar CX-9 and other Mazda vehicles — as well as the performance features in the new midsize SUV.

The CX-90 comes equipped with the Kinematic Posture Control system, which Mazda first introduced in the MX-5 Miata sports car. The system tightens the turning circle and minimizes body roll by subtly applying the brakes inside the rear wheels. 

Also, the new Mazda SUV has an all-wheel drive system with a rear bias, which enhances the sporty driving character. Furthermore, Mazda contends that the CX-90’s suspension is tuned for “balance and control” for a wide range of conditions and situations. 

The Pilot is a great family vehicle and provides a smooth ride. However, it doesn’t deliver a sporty driving experience like what we expect from the CX-90. 

Other strengths of the Mazda CX-90 over the Honda Pilot

The 2024 CX-90 has other strengths over the 2023 Pilot. This includes the availability of a plug-in hybrid model, which can drive with electric-only power for short distances. It also has high fuel economy. However, the Pilot doesn’t offer any kind of hybrid. All Pilot models are fully gas-powered.

Additionally, the previously discussed all-wheel drive system is standard for the CX-90. However, AWD is an optional feature for the Pilot, so midsize SUV customers have to pay extra.

Furthermore, the CX-90 is more luxurious than the Pilot. Its cabin has a liberal use of high-quality materials and premium amenities, giving off serious luxury SUV vibes. Also, with features like the cushy second-row captain’s chairs, the CX-90 is geared toward optimal ride comfort. 

With its more powerful engines, the 2024 Mazda CX-90 beats the 2023 Honda Pilot in one big way. For midsize SUV shoppers choosing between the two vehicles, the potent engine lineup is an element to consider — especially for people that prioritize driving excitement.


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