2024 Mazda CX-90 leaves a lot on the table for improvement
Mazda better hope the tide doesn’t go out with this one or everyone might find out they’ve been swimming naked the whole time!
I’ve always been a Mazda fan. Hearing the name evokes memories of racing in Spec Miata; it reminds me of the special drone and buzz of an RX-7 at full tilt; it makes me want to start searching for the stupendously good sleeper car that is the Mazdaspeed 6. That was the Mazda I fell in love with—the plucky car company that could keep chugging along against all odds with unusual offerings.
I haven’t changed. I still wear the same ratty old t-shirts, my haircut has become retro-vintage, my jokes tamer and kid-friendly, and even my knowledge base continues to diminish every year—does anyone else just not care for cars made after 2012? Mazda then is the problem; it surely can’t be me. They’ve gone and changed everything up. They’ve gone and shaved the sides of their head and permed the top. Their clothes look like every outfit is from the local thrift and don’t get me started on their choice of music (we 90s babies know their rap IS NOT rap).
As much as I want Mazda to bring back the Wankel in some sort of a useful manner—the generator or range extender idea doesn’t cut it for me—I know those days are gone and I’m falling into the same generational loop as all my forefathers. What Mazda has left us with is an aging, yet still delightful Miata, and numerous sizes of essentially the same sport utility. They’ve copied a known successful formula. What’s distressing is that there isn’t a lot that tweaks the formula that Mazda should be lauded for attempting. You can have a small compact sport utility or a medium-sized one or even this: the large one: 2024 Mazda CX-90.
I can’t be too smug in throwing stones at Mazda. I previously owned a 2014 CX-5 in Touring trim. I was modestly familiar with their idea of adding some ‘Zoom-Zoom’ to the ubiquitous five-door people mover. Once again, they’ve nailed that part. The CX-90 is a rather large slab of metal, yet it doesn’t feel like two tons of recycled kiddie pools and shovels. Owing to their unusual offerings of yesteryear, Mazda went with a longitudinally mounted, turbocharged 3.3L straight six with 280 horses?!! They’ve also added AWD and a very mild hybrid system they call ‘M Hybrid Boost’.
And that’s about where my excitement fell off a cliff. Inside, it feels like my former decade-old CX-5, the side profile looks like it consumes plankton and other small crustaceans in excessive quantities, and the rear isn’t quite right, with only the front being a somewhat comical anthropomorphic sight of a chunky guy with his cheeks full of a dog’s dinner—no two people look at the same painting the same way, sue me. The lane departure is overly aggressive and often confused by lanes multiplying into turn pockets. Even the Mazda safety system (i-ACTIVSENSE) twice decided to stop working and displayed a message that basically said, ‘You’re on your own, use your mirrors, figure it out.’
The M Hybrid Boost isn’t really a hybrid in my opinion either. While technically being a hybrid, it is a big letdown. Imagine ‘kind of’ having a hybrid, with all the potential issues and few upsides. This system gets you an additional 16.6 horsepower from an 11kw battery. Pathetic. This is a whole lot of complicated engineering for a small gain. Even the MPG rating doesn’t seem to get much out of it. I averaged 27.4 MPG over nearly 2000 miles, nearly half of which was interstate driving. My non-hybrid minivan gets 29 MPG! It seems as if Mazda wanted to say they had a hybrid, even if they risk everyone finding out they’ve been swimming naked when the tide goes out.
With all the mediocrity, it should be cheap. It isn’t. My former CX-5 lost 50% of its value in 4 years and 40-thousand miles. I wasn’t that upset with the CX-5 because it was sub-$30K (USD) in mid-level trim. With this new CX-90 and its ‘Preferred Plus Package’, it’s a cold hard $48,000. For the money, I’ll go get a Toyota Highlander hybrid that gets 10 MPG more at a similar price point that won’t lose nearly as much value. That’s a REAL hybrid. And now I realize that was the most practical and domesticated thing I’ve ever said. If you need me, I’ll be in my garage revving the beans out of my e60 M5 to make myself feel better.
M. T. Blake
(www.mtblake.net / IG @_mtblake)Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in