Mazda’s Premium Aspirations Are Paying Off
Mazda continues to market itself as a more premium brand, effectively straddling the line between the mainstream and luxury markets. The brand’s current styling, offerings, performance and promotion all reinforce the push. And recent Mazda sales figures highlight the strategy is working to court buyers.
Mazda 2023 annual sales show the brand’s continued sales momentum. The automaker sold over 363,000 models last year, over 23 percent more than 2022. December U.S. sales were the best in the automaker’s history at nearly 40,000 units. In fact, the only two models that didn’t see an increase in sales during 2023 were two models on the chopping block — the CX-9 and MX-30.
Sales of the CX-5 remained steady despite the introduction of the more adventure-capable CX-50. As such, Mazda’s command over the compact SUV market grew. CX-30 sales were up by nearly double. The CX-90 outsold all CX-9 sales of 2022 despite the newer and more upscale model debuting for the 2024 model year.
Mazda’s premium drive remains a mainstay for the brand, and the CX-90 underscores the brand’s upscale aspirations. The CX-90’s base engine is a turbocharged inline-six with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Sound familiar? It’s the same type of engine that powers the midrange BMW 3 Series, the X5, and several Mercedes models.
To boot, there’s a high-performance variant, Mazda’s most powerful production engine to date, cranking out 340 horsepower. That is, if you opt for premium gasoline.
Mazda’s refined ride and performance, which have become traditional across the automaker’s lineup, remain. The CX-90, along with the rest of the brand’s SUV lineup, is actually pleasing to throw into a corner, a characteristic far more common in luxury land versus the mainstream market.
The CX-90 is also far more upscale than the now-dead CX-9. Even the base model sports synthetic leather upholstery, a power liftgate, 19-inch wheels, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen and a suite of driver aids. Upper models are fitted with Bose sound system, premium leather, heated second-row seats and the like.
The CX-90 builds on the brand’s already apparent luxe ambitions across its bread-and-butter lineup, underscored by upmarket cabin materials and modern styling.
Still, the honeymoon may not last forever. Mazda is behind the curve when it comes to electrification. The CX-90 serves as the brand’s first plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, the brand’s only EV, the MX-30, is being discontinued. The MX-30s paltry 100-mile range is partly to blame alongside its limited availability to California. Mazda sold exactly 100 of them in all of 2023.
However, electrification seems to be a problem Mazda wants to face down the road. Its continued efforts to be a more upscale brand are allowing it to thrive in the present.