Road Test Review – 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV – The Hybrid That Sips Gas And Carves Corners

When we last drove the 2024 Mazda CX-90 out in San Francisco, Mazda reps quickly pointed out just how much of a game changer this model would be for the company. The longitudinal rear-wheel drive platform is a radical departure from Mazda SUVs of the past, while the interior refocuses itself to be more luxurious than the outgoing CX-9. The CX-90 certainly has the goods to make a strong first impression, but does it hold up after long-term exposure?


CX-90 PHEV Blends Organic Styling With Functional Lines

Unlike other PHEV or EV models that tend to embrace styling that’s sci-fi and borders on being outright weird, the CX-90 PHEV wears the same suit of clothes as the inline-six powered model. This is a welcome change, and it allows the PHEV to benefit from many of the styling choices that the new platform allowed them to make. The front end is expressive and a balanced mixture of elegance and sportiness. The side profile even has some curves and creases baked into it that help draw the eye towards the rear of the SUV. Here, the look is slightly bland (a typical trait of many three-row SUVs), but we’ll give designers points for making the taillights as expressive as possible, which helps give the PHEV a distinct nighttime look.


The styling is also a stark contrast to a few of its rivals, including the Toyota Grand Highlander, Ford Explorer, and the Hyundai Palisade, which all either go for the more functional side of design or go all-in on trying to stand out with their futuristic lines. Buyers and curious observers looking to differentiate between the PHEV and its inline-six cousin will have to look at the front fenders, where the faux fender vents will either have “PHEV” or “Inline” script.


CX-90 PHEV Interior Goes For Long Haul Comfort

Our Premium Plus example didn’t have the signature hanging stitch on the dashboard seen on some other CX-90 models. However, the blacked-out interior still looks upscale and premium, with high-quality materials scattered throughout. We also like how the outer dash vents wrap their way into the door panels, which helps create a unified interior look.

Digital instrumentation is standard, and the fancy gauges come with two fuel readouts, one for the traditional gas tank and another one that helps monitor the battery’s state of charge. The CX-90 PHEV follows the standard model’s lead when it comes to seating capacity, with room for up to eight passengers when equipped with the standard bench seats, while the optional captain’s chairs drop that figure down to seven passengers. The space in the second row is good for adults, and the captain’s chairs in our example delivered plenty of support and comfort. The third row largely follows the same procedure when it comes to the amount of space it offers, with the seats being best left for children or cargo when they are folded down.

The 12.3-inch infotainment system in our example is still operated by a large rotary wheel. Still, if mirrored with Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it does offer limited touch control functions. Higher trims, like our example, get a matching 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while lower trims get a smaller 7.0-inch display.


PHEV Is Quicker Than The Six, Sips Gas Too

Performance for the 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV comes from a hybrid powertrain that pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack to produce a combined system output of 323 horsepower. That’s slightly less than the 340-hp inline-six, but it’s above the base model’s 280-hp. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic that features a wet clutch and is also the same as what you find on the I6 model.

The sprint to 60 mph is made in 5.9 seconds, which is slightly faster than the 340-hp inline model despite the battery adding some extra weight to the SUV. This extra weight makes itself known in certain driving situations, with the PHEV having a bit of trouble with high-speed passing maneuvers as well as cornering. The PHEV also gives up some towing to the traditional I6 model, with the hybrid only capable of towing 3500 lbs (versus 5000 for the I6). However, the PHEV makes up for it by offering a pure electric driving mode, but you have a small 25-mile leash before the engine kicks back in after the battery is drained.

We also noticed that the setup here is not as refined either, with our tester experiencing occasional bouts of stuttering whenever the gasoline engine kicked in. At least the PHEV is capable of achieving 27 mpg in mixed driving, with the SUV also getting 25 mph in city driving.


Value Quotient

Pricing for the 2023 Mazda CX-90 PHEV starts at $49,415, putting the PHEV in the same company as the Ford Explorer Hybrid and several other hybrid entries. Our Premium Plus tester is the range-topper of the PHEV family and has a base price of $58,920. Our particular example arrived with some minor options, which helped push the final as-tested price to just over $60,000.

This premium is to be expected, given the PHEV’s hybrid mission. Still, the pricing here also reflects the minimal fuel economy benefits that the PHEV brings to the table when compared to both ICE models, with the 340-hp version offering better driving dynamics as well as a slightly lighter curb weight. However, if you’re looking for a hybrid SUV that still looks like it leapt off the pages of a magazine and can bring comfort on long-haul freeway journies, we highly recommend giving the 2023 Mazda CX-90 a closer look.







Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as

Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.

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