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A white 2024 Mazda CX-90 is shown in a garage after looking at electric vehicle for sale.

Mazda Heads for Greener Pastures With the CX-90 PHEV

Drivers seeking new electric vehicles for sale now have more choices than ever. There are currently more than 60 plug-in models available on the Canadian market. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sector has been especially popular as of late, with 29,000 units sold in 2022 alone. Despite the recent rise of fully-electric vehicles, drivers seem increasingly enamoured with hybrid offerings, which are often much more affordable and convenient than pure BEVs. It might seem like a step backwards in the effort to electrify the future of personal transportation, but with their greater range and flexibility, plug-in hybrids are simply a much more practical choice for many drivers.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see new brands beginning to branch out into PHEV models, with Mazda being the latest major automaker to make the move. The 2024 CX-90 represents the first hybrid model in Mazda’s history, allowing the company to bring its unique blend of style, performance, and luxury to the growing PHEV market. Offering three trims, a well-appointed cabin, an engaging ride, and a powerful engine, the CX-90 has already carved out a place for itself in the growing hybrid segment. What’s so special about the CX-90, and how is Mazda upping the bar when it comes to hybrid vehicles? Let’s dive into this intriguing new offering from Mazda and see for ourselves.

Outstanding Performance

Performance isn’t usually a word that’s associated with the three-row SUV segment––or hybrids in general––but Mazda is defying all expectations when it comes to the 2024 CX-90 PHEV. Powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder e-Skyactiv engine and a 68 kW electric motor driven by a 17.8 kWh lithium-ion battery, the CX-90 gives drivers an ample 323 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque to play with. That’s well above average for the segment, which means you’ll always have plenty of power at your disposal when you’re behind the wheel of the CX-90. With the ability to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in just over six seconds, the CX-90 does a great job of separating itself from the underwhelming, economy-focused hybrids of the past, providing drivers with the best of both worlds in terms of performance and efficiency.

If you’re worried that opting for the PHEV model means missing out on that legendary Mazda performance, have no fear. The CX-90 PHEV is actually the second-most powerful version of the CX-90 on offer, only falling behind the top-tier GP-T and Signature trims by a scant 17 hp. That’s not to knock the internal combustion model, which actually produces the most horsepower and torque of any Mazda production engine. The 340 hp turbocharged inline-six even rivals luxury SUVs like the BMW X5 and Land Rover Range Rover Sport when it comes to pure power, but when compared to the PHEV version, it’s a closer margin than many drivers expect. The CX-90 PHEV is also a major improvement over the lower trims of the inline-six model, which are limited to 280 hp.

A close up shows the chrome side skirt on a maroon 2024 Mazda CX-90.

Legendary Mazda Handling

The CX-90’s eight-speed automatic transmission provides drivers with a peppy, responsive ride that does an admirable job of harnessing the PHEV’s powerful hybrid setup, giving drivers a thrill every time they hit the road. Smooth steering and a relatively stiff suspension limit body roll, which is an important factor when it comes to weight distribution and traction. This is accomplished in part by Mazda’s proprietary Kinematic Posture Control system.

Similar to the torque vectoring systems found on some other makes and models, Kinematic Posture Control is a clever fusion of suspension and braking technology that goes a long way in improving handling and traction during tight turns. Kinematic Posture Control uses a network of sensors to detect when the vehicle is experiencing high G-forces while cornering, lightly applying the brakes to the inner wheel in order to suppress body roll. The system engages automatically and can be a real boon to more spirited driving sessions as it allows drivers to accelerate through turns with aplomb.

Like all of Mazda’s SUVs, the 2024 CX-90 PHEV comes standard with all-wheel drive. While we wouldn’t recommend fording streams or ascending sheer rock faces in a large, three-row SUV, the AWD system allows this hybrid to excel in any number of challenging weather conditions. This can be huge when it comes to improving driver confidence, ensuring you’ll feel safe no matter what the road ahead might look like. Mazda has always been known for providing a fun ride, and it’s nice to see that reputation extending to the PHEV segment.

Efficiency and Range

Performance, style and luxury features aside, a PHEV is always going to be measured in terms of efficiency. These environmentally-friendly vehicles might not be the cheapest models on offer––largely due to the cost of their battery packs––but they offer significant value when it comes to the total cost of ownership thanks to their fuel-efficient nature. Of course, the size and power of the CX-90 are a bit of a limiting factor, but the automaker has still managed to outshine most of the other entries in the segment.

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV has an estimated fuel economy of 9.4 L/100 km combined in hybrid mode. This impressive figure is thanks in part to the SUV’s stop-start feature, which selectively deactivates the gas engine when the CX-90 reaches cruising speed. The feature will come in handy for drivers who spend a lot of time on the highway, where it’s easy to coast on power from the electric motor without taxing the engine itself. The vehicle is even more efficient when switching to all-electric mode, which gives the CX-90 PHEV an almost untouchable estimated fuel economy of 4.2 Le/100 km.

The CX-90 can cruise in all-electric mode for an estimated 42 km, which is ideal for short trips around town and other daily driving tasks. If you’re planning a long road trip, the hybrid mode allows the CX-90 to travel 790 km without stopping for fuel or electricity, which can be handy for drivers travelling in parts of Canada where electric vehicle charging stations are less common. Speaking of charging, this hybrid SUV can charge its battery from 20 to 80 percent in 6.4 hours with a standard 120V outlet or just 1.3 hours when using a 240V Level 2 charger. However, it will also run just fine on gasoline alone if you don’t have time to recharge.

Premium Interior Design

With seating for seven or eight passengers, the CX-90 holds its own in a segment that’s often defined by cargo room and passenger space. The base GS trim has seats wrapped in premium cloth upholstery, while the mid-tier GS-L opts for leatherette-trimmed seats, and the high-end GT ups the ante with a Nappa leather interior. The base trim features 60/40-split second-row bench seats, but the higher trims have a second row with two captain’s chairs, which do a good job of separating warring siblings at the cost of losing one seat. The base trim comes standard with heated front seats that can be adjusted to three temperatures, but drivers looking to limit lower back pain should probably look into the 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support offered on the GS-L and GT trims. The GT also throws in an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and a heated second row.

On the technology side, the Mazda CX-90 punches well above its weight with a long list of impressive features that wouldn’t be out of place on a luxury vehicle. The GS and GS-L start it off right with an eight-speaker Mazda Harmonic Acoustics sound system, but real audiophiles will want to check out the 12-speaker Bose premium sound system found on the GT. Packed with Bose’s full suite of fidelity-enhancing, noise-cancelling technology, this audio system turns the CX-90 into a concert hall on wheels.

Both sound systems are controlled via a standard 26 cm center display with the Mazda Connect Infotainment system on all three trims, which is a nice perk for those who don’t want to splash the cash on the higher trims. All three trims also have a 31 cm advanced digital meter set, which gives drivers the ability to monitor a variety of driving-related metrics and information with an easily customizable instrument display. Seeking something a little more sci-fi? The GT adds an Active Driving Display, which projects speed, driving range, and directions onto the base of the windshield.

There’s no discounting the importance of charging ports on a modern vehicle, but some drivers might find the GS to be a little behind the times with just two USB-A charging ports in the front row. However, the GS-L and GT have no such issue, with six USB-C ports spread throughout the cabin, giving each row two ways to keep their devices topped up. The GS-L and GT also feature a wireless phone charger, which is a small mercy for those of us who can’t seem to keep track of our power cords. The SUV’s highest trim also features a household power outlet instead of the standard 12V outlets, making it easier to charge large electronics and other power-intensive equipment while on the move.

A close up shows the grey dash in a 2024 Mazda CX-90.

An Enticing New Option

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV gives drivers an enticing new plug-in option that’s sure to turn some heads with its striking design, impressive performance, and long list of safety and convenience features. Mazda has managed to inject no shortage of excitement into the PHEV segment, bringing its fabled automotive design approach to a fast-growing sector and making its presence known. With three trims to choose from, it’s easy to build out the CX-90 to fit your unique driving needs. From the base GS to the well-rounded GS-L and luxurious GT, it’s an arresting lineup that’s sure to tempt any driver to leave their gas-powered models behind in favour of greener pastures. The CX-90 PHEV is just one part of Mazda’s new push into the electric vehicle segment, and if the early models are any indication, it’s already done its part in raising the bar for just how stylish, safe, and powerful an eco-friendly vehicle can be.