2024 Mazda CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus - Mazda ups their game.


It may seem strange to start a column with a photo of an emblem but it's no more strange than for an automaker to introduce an inline six-cylinder. Very few automakers have a straight six in their line-up anymore. One notable, German make does, and now so does Mazda in the 2024 CX-90. People who like inline engines are known as 'inliners.' Count me among them.

The CX-90 is a large SUV, although not Suburban large. At 16.8' long the CX-90 is two feet shorter than the Suburban. By the numbers the CX-90 is 201.6" long (with the license plates installed), 78.5" wide (not counting the mirrors), and up to 68.7" tall. It weighs just under 5,000 lbs.

Inside there can be seating for eight; two up front, three in the middle and third row. The test CX-90 had 2-2-2. Getting in or out of the front and middle seats should be easy - the doors open almost 90 degrees if you can find a parking space wide enough.

The 2nd row seating was generous.

The 3rd row looks nice but it's small.

The interior was beautiful and the materials felt luxurious. Mazda once tried to launch a premium brand, Amati, to compete with Acura and Lexus, this interior meets the requirement for a premium brand.

There was one small misstep in my opinion. The end vents on the dashboard sticks out a couple of inches and two or three times I hit my knee on it getting into the driver's seat. Ouch!

Gauges in Normal mode

Gauges in Sport mode
Gauges in Off-Road Mode

There are three drive modes - Normal, Sport, and Off-Road. I kept the CX-90 in Normal except for a short drive in Sport just for kicks. Sport really changed the dynamics, the accelerator was more responsive and the shifts crisper. I didn't try Off-Road because I never went off road. No matter how competent the CX-90 might be off road I doubt it will ever see more than a rutted dirt parking lot.

The controls were spread out on the steering wheel, information center, and the console. Overall they were easy to use.

There is up to 15.9 cu.ft. of storage behind the third row, and up to 75.2 with the center and rear seats folded down. 

Now back to the engine. I would have loved to show you a picture of the engine, what a glorious sight it might have been. But alas all you see when you open the hood is a huge plastic cover telling you that yes there is an engine in here. 

If I ran Mazda I would have made sure the 3.3-liter, twin-cam, 24-valve, 340 horsepower, turbocharged Inline 6 was presented as a work of art. To add to the output Mazda uses what they call a Hybrid Boost system that adds 16.6 h.p. The power goes out to all four wheels (with a rear bias) through an 8-speed automatic that seemed a little clunky in Normal mode around town but had perfect shifts in Sport mode.

EPA says this CX-90 is capable of 23-mpg around town, and 28-mpg on the highway. I almost hit the highway figure but my around town was only 16ish mpg. 

There are some people out there who love inline engines. I put myself in that group. There is an inherent smoothness to an inline. The drawback is in the packaging. I really wish Mazda had showcased the engine better, and let us hear it as it raced to its 6,500 rpm redline.

Besides the horsepower there is 369 lb.-ft. of torque from the engine with an additional 113 lb.-ft. from the Hybrid Boost. There should be no problem towing a trailer of the recommended weight of up 5,000 lbs. with the towing package.

The Mazda CX-90 3.3 Turbo S Premium Plus starts at $59,950. The test version had Rhodium White Premium paint that added $595. There are four colors that are "standard" and four that are extra. All and all the cost isn't out of line for this level of luxury. There is a more basic CX-90 that is twenty grand less if you want the size without the luxury and power. You should check them out.


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