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With dozens of SUVs on the market, some of the best ones inevitably don’t get the attention that they deserve. Most shoppers are at least familiar with the Mazda CX-5, which continues to be the automaker’s most popular SUV. There’s one other Mazda SUV that we feel deserves some recognition, especially with its brand-new plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Mazda CX-9 has always received great reviews

For its final model year, the Mazda CX-9 was named one of the top 3 midsize SUVs on U.S. News. It’s tied with the Mazda CX-90 along with some notable competitors, including the Hyundai Santa Fe and Chevy Traverse. Multiple auto critics have expressed praise for the CX-9’s turbocharged engine, which you can enjoy inside the comfort of a well-appointed cabin. 

Car and Driver, along with Edmunds, both say that the Mazda CX-9 Touring for any model year is typically the best one. The Touring model is the entry-level trim for the 2023 model year, which had an MSRP of $38,750. All of these models have heated leather seats, a big infotainment screen with smartphone integration, tri-zone automatic climate control, and lots of advanced safety features.

For the 2024 model year, the Mazda CX-9 has been replaced with the CX-90. It’s slightly bigger than the CX-9 and has a 280-hp turbo-inline-six engine as standard equipment. The Mazda CX-90 PHEV has 323 hp on tap, plus 26 miles of all-electric driving range. The Mazda CX-90 starts at $39,595 and the PHEV model costs at least $47,445. 

How many consumers are buying the Mazda CX-9 and CX-90?

As the Mazda CX-9’s final stock is purchased from dealerships, this SUV’s sales are predictably dwindling. It has sold approximately 17,419 units so far in 2023, which isn’t too far away from its sales total from July 2022. The Mazda CX-90 is having a decent start to its production run with approximately 8,633 units purchased this year. 

However, the CX-90 clearly has some work to do if it wants to match the pace of its rivals. GoodCarBadCar data reveals that the Honda Pilot’s year-to-date sales are up by 15%. Over 65,000 Honda Pilots have been sold this year, and the Hyundai Santa Fe is doing even better with 71,754 units sold. The Kia Telluride, which earned the top spot on U.S. News rankings, is doing almost as well as the Honda Pilot. The Toyota Highlander has already moved over 121,000 units for 2023.

The CX-90 is slightly more expensive than most of its rivals, which could be a factor contributing to its low sales. The CX-90 is also a brand-new model, so many shoppers might not know that it was previously the CX-9. Because of that, they might feel safer buying a car that already has built up an impressive reputation. 

The CX-9 is also known for having a below-average cargo capacity. Behind the third row, the CX-90 only has about 15 cu-ft of storage space. Most of its rivals offer well over 18 cu-ft. Every bit counts when you’ve got a lot of passengers on board, and most midsize SUVs are purchased by families. 

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We still consider the Mazda CX-90 to be a hidden gem

The Mazda CX-90 has yet to hit its stride, but it has several unique qualities that its rivals don’t offer. Critics have already called attention to the CX-90’s lithe handling, which is something you don’t often find in such large vehicles. Each model also comes equipped with all-wheel drive, increasing its appeal from a value and utility standpoint. We’re hopeful that the CX-90’s popularity will only grow with time, despite the overwhelming competition.