Saturday, September 23, 2023
Reviews 2024 Mazda CX-90 Review: Not Quite Finished

2024 Mazda CX-90 Review: Not Quite Finished

As premium three-row midsize SUVs go, the new 2024 Mazda CX-90 looks the part but under delivers refinement-wise

2024 Mazda CX-90 Pros:

– Upscale styling for GT trims and up.

– Gorgeous, luxurious, and spacious cabin.

– Inline-6 engine has punch and sounds great.

2024 Mazda CX-90 Cons:

– MHEV feels unfinished or out of tune.

– Ride quality is disappointingly harsh and unrefined.

– Real-world fuel-efficiency will be greater than advertised.

I believe it is safe to say that the all-new 2024 CX-90 is and will be Mazda’s flagship offering for a few years to come. As such, we can turn to it as a beacon of what to expect from future Mazda vehicles in all regards, from design to technologies as well as powertrain evolution.

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

MHEV powertrain downs and up

I will be brutally honest and say that I hope the CX-90’s MHEV technology will not return in its current form as it seems unfinished or under-developed. Here’s how I can best describe what I experienced: Engineers had six months left to finalize tuning/programming/functionality and someone pulled the plug on development for some reason before they were done.

I’d not ever been more aware of an MHEV system functioning than in the CX-90. Whenever the 6-cylinder would restart after shutting down, the entire SUV would shake to life and immediately engine NVH would penetrate into the cabin. Frustratingly, From a dead stop, obvious miscommunication between the transmission and hybrid tech would result in annoying hesitation upon throttle input followed by a rush of energy. Often times, I swore the transmission was unsure whether to select first or second gear when taking off from a dead stop given the length in activation delay.

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The upside is that the new turbocharged 3.3L straight-6 offers big power and gratifying noises when required. From the GT-P, the powertrain provides up to 340 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and they are noticeable. The accompanying 8-speed, when under load, delivers crisp and near-seamless shifts. However, even with the best of intentions, averaging under 11L/100km seems nearly impossible.

Not the comfortable ride I was hoping for

My disappointment in the 2024 Mazda CX-90 continues with a near-complete lack of on-road refinement. At times, the fully independent (rear multi-link layout) would casually soak up surface irregularities. For the most part, the dampers, despite the strong platform, were incapable of countering mild to strong amplitude changes. The 21-inch wheels are likely responsible for this but even so, repeated minor surface changes permeated into the cabin, shaking occupants.

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

On clean tarmac, the CX-90 demonstrated that, as a Mazda, it is tuned more for sporty handling than outright comfort. The good news is that the brake pedal and steering are also Mazda-tuned which, in this case, equal responsiveness and performance.

Styling for those who spend

One of the most annoying current trends is severely visually de-contenting lower trim models to push buyers into spending more money – this is not unique to Mazda. The GS and GS-L versions, in pictures, cannot compete with the likes of a $50,000 Kia Telluride for example. Stepping up to the $55,000+ GT is where exterior details brighten up and roof rails become standard.

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The tested $63,300 Signature looked smart to be sure painted Artisan red ($500) and rolling on lovely 21-inch wheels. The CX-90’s full visual potential is put on display and it is attractive, and many onlookers thought so as well.

The cabin is a thing of beauty as well. Mazda’s interiors are a masterclass in voluntary simplicity however, in the CX-90, there’s a small twist. Catering, I surmise, to an older buyer, the center stack features a complete series of hard HVAC controls that are easily accessible. They complement the Signature’s 12.3-inch display (10.25-inch ion all other versions) which is manipulated via Mazda’s improved HMI controller. Though it might be more user-friendly, it remains a driver distraction as following the pointer in the screen in an extra step to accessing the desired function.

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The first two rows of seats are quite comfortable, offering plenty of leg- and headroom as well as storage options. The Mazda CX-90’s third row remains a haven for kids so long as they are under 5’5” tall. When the third is up, trunk space is limited to 423 litres, shy of many of its competitors, and when stowed, reveals 1,133 litres of volumes, plenty for typical family activities.

Or not quite what I expected

On paper, the only “issue” with the new 2024 Mazda CX-90 is that it is powered by a 6-cylinder engine while many other automakers are focusing on boosted 4-cylinder mills with or without electrification. In all other respects, the CX-90 shines. But in practice, it offers little more than any of its competitors.

Premium though it may be, Jeep, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Chevrolet, and others are all playing the high-end card and/or also offering a rugged version. My experience with the CX-90 left me without any concrete reason as to why one would purchase it over another three-row midsize SUV. Perhaps my expectations were too high or perhaps adjustments need to be made…

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2024 Mazda CX-90 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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