2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Long Term Intro: We plug-in to a year with Mazda's flagship

2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV Long Term Intro: We plug-in to a year with Mazda's flagship

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Our long-term test garage was suddenly devoid of efficiency and practicality after the departures of our all-electric Kia EV6 and hybrid Toyota Sienna. So, we looked for practical, green machinery that’s recently been introduced, and one of our top choices was available: the 2024 Mazda CX-90 Plug-In Hybrid. Not only does it give us something with three rows and cargo space again, but it’s also a big vehicle for Mazda, figuratively and literally.

The CX-90 is the first model in the United States to use Mazda's new rear-wheel-drive-based platform (with the shorter CX-60 offered overseas). It's the first time since the early 1990s that Mazda has used a rear-drive-based platform in anything other than its sports cars. Not only that, it features new powertrains. On the base and top-level models are different versions of a turbocharged straight-six, and floating in the middle are plug-in hybrid models. Mazda's first plug-in hybrid powertrain in the U.S. combines the familiar naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor between the engine and its eight-speed automatic transmission (another new component for Mazda). Total output for the hybrid is 323 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Not only does that make it Mazda's second most powerful production car (behind only the high-output six-cylinder CX-90), but its 17.8 kilowatt-hour battery pack allows it to go an EPA-estimated 26 miles on electricity alone.


This new platform has impressed us on a dynamic level, at least in the short term, though we've also noted that it might not be as spacious as we'd hoped. So we have a lot we want to learn about this big Mazda, including how efficient and useful it will be, as well as whether we’ll still like driving it as the calendar turns over.

Why we got it

As we already mentioned, we want to get more seat time behind the only other rear-drive-based vehicle Mazda has to offer here besides the Miata (and yes, there's the CX-70, but that’s just a two-row CX-90). And we opted for the plug-in hybrid, not only to have something a little greener in our fleet, but because this is the most electrified Mazda since the ill-fated (and ill-conceived) MX-30 EV. We want to know if this plug-in hybrid manages to be genuinely efficient and worth owning. We also want to see if this gas-electric combination continues to drive well in the long haul and if it stays reliable. We know the gas engine on its own is a tried-and-true unit, but there's a lot of complexity added to it with the electric motor and new transmission. Such powertrains have proved troublesome for other automakers.

We want to get a feel for this vehicle's usefulness as well. In our luggage test, it proved to have less space behind the third row than rivals from mainstream brands, but sized up well against luxury options.