2024 Mazda CX-90 plug-in hybrid beats Toyota Highlander to PHEV punch

Mazda just potentially leapfrogged Toyota, which as of yet has no Highlander Prime in sight.

On Monday, the Japanese automaker unveiled the 2024 Mazda CX-90 lineup, consisting of a plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid, and three rows of seats with three different seating configurations.

Mazda said all variants of the 2024 CX-90 will arrive in dealerships this spring but as of yet it’s light on details.

2024 Mazda CX-90

2024 Mazda CX-90

PHEV or MHEV is the question

Buyers walking into the Mazda showroom will have a choice between two engines under the hood of the CX-90. Both will be electrified, and every model is a hybrid.

Plug-in hybrid models pair a 2.5-liter inline-4 with an electric motor sandwiched in the 8-speed automatic transmission. The electric motor, which is powered by a 17.8-kwh lithium-ion battery pack, replaces the transmission’s torque converter. Total system output is 323 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Mild-hybrid models pair a new 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-6 with a less powerful electric motor, fed by a much smaller battery pack. The motor is sandwiched in the 8-speed automatic transmission. Total system output is 340 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.

EPA ratings aren’t in yet and Mazda wouldn’t comment on electric-only range. The automaker told Green Car Reports that at low speeds the mild-hybrid powertrain is capable of running on electric-only power while the plug-in hybrid will have sufficient electric-only range for day-to-day driving. Mazda noted the gas engine is helpful for longer drives or when maximum acceleration is needed, such as merging on a highway. We take this to mean that even in electric-only mode pushing the accelerator to the floor will engage the gas engine, as it does in the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe—and the recently detailed MX-30 R-EV that’s intriguing but not likely U.S.-bound.

2024 Mazda CX-90

2024 Mazda CX-90

Pretty proportions with seating for eight

The CX-90 pulls no punches when it comes to design, with a longer and wider stance than the CX-9 it will quickly replace. The front features a short overhang that leads into a long hood, a long dash-to-axle ratio, a long wheelbase, and a short rear end.

Inside the CX-90 sits on the luxury bubble in top-spec signature models. White nappa leather, linen-like cloth, and open-pore curly maple wood give the interior a warm and lounge-like vibe. A darker interior color scheme and mesh-like patterned plastic trim will be available in lower trims.

The CX-90 can be configured as a six-, seven-, or eight-seater, with the availability of a second-row bench seat or captain’s chairs along with a two- or three-seat third-row. Mazda hasn’t detailed which seating configurations can be had with which powertrains and trims. The lithium-ion battery pack sits underneath the second and third row, creating stadium-style seating. At 5-foot-10 I was able to sit in all three rows behind myself, but the third row had narrow footroom, a low seat bottom with knees-up seating position, and about an inch of extra headroom. Those checking in at 6 feet will likely touch the headliner and be uncomfortable.

2024 Mazda CX-90

2024 Mazda CX-90

A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is augmented by a 12.3-inch infotainment system. The latter is controlled by a rotary dial and some hard buttons, but the screen is touch-enabled only when using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Mazda said it will detail active-safety technology at a later date, but we spotted what appeared to be a rearview camera system within the rearview mirror.

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