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Owning a big Mazda is about to get a whole lot more expensive in Australia, thanks to the introduction of the all-new 2024 Mazda CX-90 and the discontinuation of the current people-moving Mazda king, the CX-9.

But, despite the big jump in price, Mazda is offering a higher level of luxury, along with a cracking new drivetrain that will elevate this vehicle into another bracket entirely.

We had the chance to get behind the wheel of a left-hand drive pre-production US-specification vehicle in Australia ahead of its launch later this year.

While it was only a quick look, it was a good chance to see what the revised price tag will feel like when we finally get Australian-spec vehicles.

How does the Mazda CX-90 fare vs its competitors?
View a detailed breakdown of the Mazda CX-90 against similarly sized vehicles.

How much does the Mazda CX-90 cost?

Pricing starts from $74,385 for the entry-level CX-90 G50e Touring, and climbs to $95,185 for the top-spec G50e Azami, which is the closest in specification to the US-market model we tested. All prices exclude on-road costs.

Powered exclusively by 48V electrified inline-six engines at launch, the CX-90 will not only compete with the likes of the Hyundai Palisade and Nissan Pathfinder, but also entry-level versions of the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.

As with the smaller Mazda CX-60, which rides on the same rear-drive platform, the CX-90 will be offered in Australia with three trim levels. The inline sixes (one petrol, one diesel) are the only options available at launch, though a 2.5-litre plug-in hybrid is expected to be offered sometime next year.

All versions of the Mazda CX-90 come as standard with seven seats, though the top-spec Azami can be optioned with second-row captain’s chairs and a rear centre console as part of two optional $5000 packages.

2024 Mazda CX-90 pricing:

  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e Touring: $74,385
  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e Touring: $75,800
  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e GT: $86,085
  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e GT: $84,800
  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 G50e Azami: $95,185
  • 2024 Mazda CX-90 D50e Azami: $93,865

Option Packages

Takumi Package: $5000 (Azami)

  • Pure White Nappa leather
  • Captain’s chairs (2nd row)

SP Package: $5000 (Azami)

  • Tan Nappa leather
  • Captain’s chairs (2nd row)

Note: In GT and Azami grades, G50e variants are more expensive than the D50e variants due to the higher LCT threshold of the more efficient diesel

What is the Mazda CX-90 like on the inside?

Like most people I kind of baulked at the price of the CX-90 – especially this top-spec Azami model that clears $100,000 once on-road costs are factored in.

But, when you get into the nitty gritty and actually sit inside the car, it all begins to make sense.

If you forget for a moment that the CX-9 traditionally competed with vehicles like the Palisade and Pathfinder, when you sit inside it feels a lot more like a Q7/XC90 competitor in terms of the luxury vibe.

The fit and finish on our pre-production test car was excellent. Every touch surface was soft to the touch with Alcantara-style materials used across the dashboard and seat inners.

The test vehicle also had the optional six-seat configuration, which creates a more premium environment with more room to stretch out in the second row.

Infotainment comes in the form a 12.3-inch colour display that’s controlled by an iDrive-esque controller in the centre of the cabin, while ahead of the driver is another 12.3-inch display that’s controlled by buttons on the steering wheel.

While the infotainment system looks good, it’s not as intuitive as something like an XC90 or Q7. It feels just like a larger version of the infotainment system in more affordable Mazda variants. There’s also no remote app connectivity through an embedded SIM like you’ll find on most Toyota and Ford products.

The sound system is a 12-speaker Bose-branded sound system in GT specs and above, with AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio all included. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard too (wireless and USB).

We only had a short period with the car so we couldn’t test out audio quality or have a proper play with features and room in the third row. But just based on first glance, there is a heap of room in there for both adults and children. We will have a proper go when this goes on sale and we can test a vehicle for an extended period.

Cargo capacity comes in at 451 litres behind the third row, 1155 litres with the third row down and the second row up and 2129 litres with the second row folded.

Unlike some six-seat SUV configurations, the second row can be folded to allow longer items to be loaded through the boot. There’s a space saver spare tyre located beneath the cargo floor under the third row.

What’s under the bonnet?

At launch, the Mazda CX-90 will be available with a pair of 3.3-litre inline six powertrains with 48V M Hybrid technology – one petrol, one diesel.

G50e versions feature a 3.3-litre turbocharged inline six petrol mild-hybrid, developing 254kW and 500Nm. It’s the most powerful series-production Mazda engine ever made.

Meanwhile, D50e models feature a 3.3-litre inline six turbo-diesel mild-hybrid, which develops 187kW (3750rpm) and 550Nm (1500-2400rpm).

The M Hybrid Boost system comprises a 48V mild-hybrid system that “supports the engine at lower speeds while delivering enhanced environmental performance by using regenerative braking to replenish the onboard battery”.

The mild-hybrid system consists of an 11kW starter generator that outputs 12.4kW of power to support auxiliary systems when the vehicle is switched off to save fuel.

In terms of fuel efficiency, Mazda claims some highly ambitious figures that we’re keen to test in the real world.

  • 3.3L G50e e-Skyactiv G: 8.2L/100km, 189g/km
  • 3.3L D50e e-Skyactiv D: 5.4L/100km, 143g/km

How does the Mazda CX-90 drive?

While the step up in interior quality and feel helps justify the price tag, it’s this all-new drivetrain that really knocks it out of the park for Mazda.

I’ll mention again that our time in the car was only brief (around two hours in total) so we’ll reserve final judgement until we get it on a proper road loop. That goes for fuel economy too – we were seeing figures of around 12L/100km on our loop at the proving ground and it’s not reflective of a proper combined cycle drive.

This engine is a big step up from the previous generation (or the model this replaces, the CX-9). It goes from four cylinders to six in an inline configuration. It’s also turbocharged with the help of a 48V mild-hybrid system for energy capture.

This engine absolutely has BMW 3.0-litre inline six vibes. It’s smooth, sonorous and has plenty of torque across its rev band.

It’s mated to an in-house eight-speed automatic transmission. It doesn’t use a traditional torque converter setup, instead it uses a wet clutch.

We tested it across a variety of conditions, including a reverse up a hill, and it didn’t show any of the typically jerky cues you’ll find in a number of other non-torque converter applications.

We did find it was a bit sluggish to respond to hard throttle applications in Normal mode once it had settled into a gear. When switched into Sport mode it did a much better job of dropping down to the correct gear before shooting off.

At low speeds it’s smooth with imperceptible gear shifts, and it has the ability to be driven as a fully automatic transmission or be manually controlled using the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

One aspect in the perception of quality is often road noise. It’s fairly quiet inside the cabin at highway speeds, even on coarse-chip roads, which indicates a high level of insulation.

Mazda’s big claim with this drivetrain is that it’s a rear-drive platform first. Therefore, it sends torque to the rear axle and then has a shaft that runs back to the front axle via a lock-up clutch.

The clutch is able to slip all the way through to fully locked, which allows the vehicle to send up to around 50 per cent of torque to the front axle as required. This not only helps with traction, but also limiting wheel slip. It can effectively torque vector by allowing a partial load to run through to the front axle, which can then be further vectored using the brakes.

Looking under the bonnet, it’s incredible how far back they’ve been able to cram the engine. It sits above and behind the front axle with a narrow transmission tunnel to offer more leg and knee room for the driver and front passenger.

It has also allowed Mazda to mount a lot of the engine’s ancillaries low and alongside the engine, which helps lower the centre of gravity.

On the handling front, it has MX-5 vibes – in that there is a degree of body roll that progressively comes in to a limit.

It offers a sense of progression and predictability so that you can get stuck into it, but not feel like it’s going to bite on you and rotate.

There’s a big set of 275mm wide tyres at the rear that help keep everything planted and connected. Steering feel is great, as is brake pedal feel.

Behind the wheel it feels well and truly like the sportiest car in its traditional segment set. We’re keen to test it back-to-back with some of its German competitors to see how it goes when push comes to shove.

What do you get?

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 with DAB+ 
  • 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
    • Heating
    • 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

CX-90 GT adds:

  • 12.3-inch widescreen display
  • 12.3-inch TFT LCD driver display
  • 21-inch silver metallic alloy wheels 
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • LED ‘bright’ signature running light
  • Electric steering wheel adjustment
  • Heated seats (front, rear)
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Interior foot lamp (driver and passenger)
  • Leather side door trim with door courtesy lamp (front, rear)
  • Panoramic sunroof 
  • Personalise system (auto restoration of settings)
  • Premium Bose audio incl. 12 speakers, amplifier
  • Rear combination lights with signature illumination

CX-90 Azami adds:

  • 21-inch black metallic, machined alloy wheels 
  • 360-degree monitor with See Through View
  • Ambient lighting
  • Black Nappa leather seat trim 
  • Body-coloured wheel arches, lower cladding
  • Cruising & Traffic Support
  • Frameless interior mirror
  • Interior foot lamp (front, rear)
  • Personalise system
  • Ventilated seats (front)

Is the Mazda CX-90 safe?

The CX-90 is yet to be tested by ANCAP.

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

CX-90 GT adds:

  • Adaptive LED headlights

CX-90 Azami adds:

  • 360-degree cameras incl. See-Through View
  • Cruising & Traffic Support
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Lane centring assist

How much does the Mazda CX-90 cost to run?

Mazda covers its entire range with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Service pricing for the CX-90 is still to be announced, though we do know that there will be different service intervals between petrol and diesel models.

G50e models will require maintenance every 12 months and 15,000 kilometres; while the D50e will have shorter 10,000km gaps between services.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mazda CX-90

Our time behind the wheel of the CX-90 was only brief, but we were a big fan of what we experienced.

The engine is seriously impressive, and while the rest of the world is downsizing and trying to extract as much as they can from tiny turbocharged engines, Mazda has offered the confidence of a meaty six to get things moving.

A towing capacity of 2000kg for the diesel and 2500kg in the petrol with a braked trailer should be enough to open this up to those wanting to get away with the family.

We’re keen to have a proper drive of this when customer deliveries commence later this year.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Mazda CX-90

Paul Maric

Paul Maric is an Australian car expert based in Melbourne, Australia. Paul is a founder of & formerly part of the CarAdvice founding team.

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