The new CX-90 is the flagship in what’s becoming a more luxurious, expensive Mazda range, but it still comes in flavours aimed at more budget-oriented buyers.
With a sticker price around the $75,000 mark, the Touring model offers the same inline-six diesel and petrol power available in the significantly pricier GT and Azami, but at a price tag that puts it in line with the Hyundai Palisade, among other seven and eight-seat rivals.
Sometimes, entry-level versions of big, luxurious cars can feel a bit sparse, as if they’re designed to punish you for failing to dig deeper and stump for a more expensive model. The CX-90 Touring takes a different approach.
At $76,400 before on-road costs, the D50e is $2000 pricier than its petrol equivalent. It comfortably undercuts the model above it in the range, the G50e GT, which retails for $85,335 before on-roads.
Rivals priced around the $75,000 mark include the Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy Black Ink V6 FWD ($76,900), and the Nissan Pathfinder Ti-L ($81,490). Within the Mazda line-up, you can get a top-end CX-9 Azami LE for just shy of $75,000 before on-roads.
Mazda CX-90 pricing:
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e Touring: $74,400
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e Touring: $76,400
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e GT: $85,335
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e GT: $85,400
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e Azami: $93,320
- 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e Azami: $94,435
Prices exclude on-road costs
The new CX-90 takes the design language from the outgoing CX-9 and drags it into a new era, with a simple look and plenty of high quality materials.
It’s also a really nice place to spend long periods of time. The front seats are generously padded armchairs with heaps of adjustment, all the places you rest your elbows are soft to the touch, and the view out of the tall windows is palatial.
There’s also something reassuring about how conventional it all is. The climate control pod has proper buttons and dials, the infotainment screen is nestled neatly in the dashboard rather than dominating it, and the digital dials are designed to mimic classic instruments.
Where top-end models feature a fully digital cluster, the Touring has a large digital speedo flanked by an analogue rev counter, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. While it’s understandable that Mazda can’t offer everything as standard on the base model, it’s a bit of a shame that this flagship large SUV has the same dials as a CX-30 or Mazda 3.
For the most part, the Touring doesn’t really feel like a base model. The leather on the steering wheel is lovely, the seats feel high quality, and the general feeling of solidity from all the buttons and dials is reassuring.
The most prominent link between the CX-90 and less expensive Mazda models is the infotainment system. It’s shared with the wider range and looks sharp on the 10.25-inch display angled towards the driver. Higher-end models get a bigger 12.3-inch screen.
With wireless smartphone mirroring, factory satellite navigation and AM/FM/DAB radio, this model is fully featured. The menu setup also feels logical, as you jump around using the rotary dial on the transmission tunnel.
The display is only a touchscreen when you’re using smartphone mirroring and you have to turn on the ability to touch while the car is moving. However, even if you are trying to poke and prod the display it’s mounted a long way away, so it’s often easier to move around using the dial instead.
There are two USB-C ports under the armrest and there’s a wireless phone charger under the dashboard. Dual cupholders feature as well beneath a nicely damped lid that folds away.
Throw in door pockets with plenty of room for oversized bottles and there’s no shortage of storage spaces.
Space in the second row is impressive, with plenty of legroom and headroom for taller teenagers or full-sized adults. The rear doors are huge, making it easy to clamber in (or load kids in), and the door sill is protected by the door trim.
That means no muddy legs when kids drop out of the car, and less of a step into the back seat for short passengers.
ISOFIX points feature on the outboard rear seats, and there’s a trio of top-tether points in the second row. USB-C ports, air vents, and climate controls all feature, along with a central fold-down armrest.
Behind the tilting, sliding second row hides a pair of seats that are definitely better than what’s on offer in the CX-9, but still aren’t quite class-leading.
Headroom back there is up by 36mm, legroom by 18mm, and shoulder room by 3mm when compared with the CX-9. The outgoing car’s curvy rear had resulted in decent legroom for third-row occupants but not much in the way of headroom.
Toe room is limited, but you can fit a pair of taller children or smaller teenagers back there without much difficulty. It’s also not too difficult clambering back here. USB ports, air vents, and cupholders all feature in the 3rd row.
With all three rows up, there’s 257L of space, an improvement of 59L. Drop the third row and this space expands to 608L, measured to the height of the seat back and including the underfloor storage space.
Drop this row, and there’s 2025L, measured to the ceiling and again accounting for the underfloor storage space. Under the boot floor there’s a space-saver spare.
The D50e is powered by a 3.3-litre inline-six turbo-diesel backed by 48V mild-hybrid tech.
Outputs are 187kW of power at 3750rpm, and 550Nm of torque between 1500 and 2400rpm.
The fuel tank holds 74 litres, and claimed fuel economy is 5.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. We saw closer to 6.0L/100km on a drive loop.
Both models feature a new eight-speed automatic transmission, developed in-house and called Skyactiv-Drive, which substitutes a conventional torque converter for a wet clutch.
They also feature Mazda’s M Hybrid Boost system, which comprises a 48V mild-hybrid system that offers smoother start/stop, and can give the petrol engine a helping hand at low revs.
There’s a heavy-set, old-school feel to the CX-90 that’s quite refreshing. The steering is quite heavy and slow at low speeds, the throttle has a long travel, and the conventional automatic is more natural than a dual-clutch in traffic.
I think a slightly lighter and more direct steering wouldn’t go astray at city speeds though.
Ride quality is better in the bigger, heavier CX-90 than the rough-and-tumble CX-60. Even the Azami with its 21-inch alloys does a good job smoothing out pimply urban roads, and softens sharp hits from speed bumps or potholes nicely.
It rides nicely at higher speeds, too. Despite tipping the scales at ~2200kg it settles quickly over big crests and dips, for a long-legged feel on the highway.
This Mazda has adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assists that are smartly calibrated, and a blind-spot monitor that makes it easier to know what’s hiding behind the chunky C-pillar. It all comes together for a comfortable ride that makes this a nice place to spend long periods of time.
Mazda used to struggle with noise insulation, but its latest cars are whisper quiet. There’s minimal road roar from the tyres on rural highways, and the engine settles down nicely at a cruise.
The diesel is a refined, relaxed engine with plenty of potential.
Although it’s down on power compared to the petrol, it develops more torque (550Nm v 500Nm) at lower revs (1500rpm v 2000rpm) and feels more muscular at city speeds, backed by an artificially augmented rumble from the engine.
Lean on the throttle and it pulls nicely from almost any speed in a way that feels very BMW.
It’s also super relaxed on the open road, humming along barely above idle at 100km/h. Put your foot down and the transmission will smartly kick down one, two gears to tap into the torquey mid-range for effortless overtaking.
There’s also some awkwardness here, though.
The eight-speed automatic generally does a good job shuffling quietly through the gears in the background but occasionally it’ll throw a sharp shift into the mix to keep you on your toes.
Coupled with a mild-hybrid system that’s a bit too keen to cut the engine out when you lift off the throttle, the car can feel everything from effortless and premium to a bit awkward and jerky depending on what the hybrid system is doing.
You get a gurgling, grinding noise from the electric motor when you lift off the accelerator at low speeds, as the mild-hybrid system harvests energy using regenerative braking, and you can hear the all-wheel drive clutch packs engaging and disengaging on the move.
CX-90 Touring highlights:
- 19-inch silver metallic alloy wheels
- 360-degree view monitor
- 7.0-inch TFT LCD multi-information meter display
- 10.25-inch Mazda Connect display
- 8-speaker audio
- DAB+ radio
- Active driving display
- Adaptive cruise control
- Advanced keyless entry
- Tri-zone climate control with independent rear control
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (Wireless and USB)
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Blind Spot Monitoring incl. Vehicle Exit Warning
- Body colour exterior mirrors
- Driver monitor
- Exterior mirrors
- Power adjustment
- Auto fold
- Auto dimming
- Memory function
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Front bumper with gloss black bar grille
- Gloss black side pillar garnish
- Glove box illumination
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Heated seats (front)
- Leather seats
- Front seat power adjustment, driver memory
- Leather shift knob
- Leather side door trim with door courtesy lamp (Front)
- Leather steering wheel
- Auto LED headlights incl. High Beam Control
- Map reading spot lamps
- Overhead console with sunglass holder
- Rear console with LED lamp, USB-C
- 150W AC outlet
- Rear door window sunshade
- Satellite navigation
- Smart Brake Support (AEB) with Turn-across traffic
- Vanity mirror with lamp
- Wireless phone charger
The CX-90 hasn’t yet been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP – and based on recent comments from Mazda Australia, it might not ever see an NCAP crash barrier.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Auto high-beam
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Lane keep assist
- Secondary Collision Reduction System
- Vehicle Exit Warning
- 360-degree camera system
Mazda offers five years of capped-price servicing, though the diesel has shorter intervals of 12 months or 10,000km than the 12 months or 15,000km for the petrol.
The diesel’s first five services are capped at $478, $643, $975, $643 and $478, or $3117 over the course of five years.
It’s a base model, but the CX-90 Touring is fundamentally a good car.
Big, comfortable, and packing a punchy powertrain that’s at home on the open road, it ticks a lot of boxes for families in search of a posh-ish SUV.
The diesel is the engine we’d buy, given it’s significantly more efficient than the petrol, and even in Touring guise you don’t want for much equipment.
What’s holding it back? As we’ve said in previous reviews of new Mazda products, the mild-hybrid system needs some work.
It feels a bit first-generation, as if Mazda hasn’t quite managed to iron out all the kinks to deliver a fully polished luxury experience.
Thankfully, the brand has proven itself better than most brands at improving cars throughout their life, rather than waiting for a mid-life update to refine the formula.
We’d be waiting to see how those refinements shape up before signing on the dotted line.
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