Engine: 2.5-liter inline-4
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Torque: 369 lb.-ft.
EPA ratings: 56 MPGe/25 MPG gasoline only/EV range 25 miles
Base price: $56,950
As tested: $58,920
Overview: The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV is a new model that replaces the CX-9. As a plug-in hybrid, this three-row luxury SUV makes a lot of sense for people looking to bridge the gap between gasoline-only vehicles and pure electric vehicles (EVs). The 25-mile EV range is enough for most local errands, and the CX-90 recharges overnight even on standard household current.
Walkaround: Slightly conservative, but handsome styling is a mark of Mazda SUVs. They forego heavy cladding, knowing that CX-90 owners are more interested in a comfortable, all-wheel-drive, all-weather SUV than one for thrashing along logging roads or summiting mountains. Mazda styling isn’t trendy or gimmicky, which means it should look contemporary for many years. The Premium Plus package includes handsome 21-inch alloy wheels and a power panoramic moonroof.
Interior: Space and comfort are highlights of the CX-90 Premium Plus package, with second-row captain’s chairs instead of the standard bench seat. The captain’s chairs reduce passenger capacity to seven from eight, but the extra comfort is worth it for anyone hauling less than the Brady Bunch. Third-row space is kid-friendly, but snug for adults, especially if three try to squeeze in. Driver power lumbar and heated-and-cooled seats are a pleasure on long trips, as is the nicely placed dead pedal. The head-up display is a big bonus in today’s hectic freeway traffic. Rain-sensing wipers are most welcome in the Pacific Northwest. Our tester had wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an excellent Bose sound system, satellite radio and a wireless device charging pad. Front-row small-item storage is limited, but the rear door bins are big. Second row leg, knee and shoe room is excellent and large; wide-opening doors ease second- and third-row accessibility. A power liftgate and a flat deck facilitate cargo carrying. The split-folding third-row seats have a slight slope.
Behind the wheel: Long highway trips with the family are a Mazda CX-90 forte. The electric motor makes for quick on-ramps and merging in heavy traffic. Mazdas have a reputation for athletic handling without being coarse and the CX-90 fits that norm although it’s the largest Mazda SUV. The CX-90 has a 3,500-pound towing capacity.
Bottom line: The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Premium Plus three-row SUV is an excellent blend of style, comfort, safety, semi-sporty driving dynamics, cargo capacity and plug-in hybrid fuel economy, all wrapped up in a handsome package that compares favorably with many much more expensive SUVs.