With crossover SUVs now the backbone of its North American sales volume, Mazda this week revealed the CX-90 SUV, a fullsize 3-row model to serve as the brand’s flagship when it goes on sale this spring. Two hybridized propulsion options seem well-timed to help the new SUV transition customers to the electrified future — but without the worries regarding driving range or recharging infrastructure.
At the same time, Mazda executives and engineers promise that the 2024 CX-90 will remain true to Mazda’s promise of emphasis on engaging driving dynamics and expressive styling. “We design to a feeling, not just specifications,” said Jeff Guyton, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations, in a presentation to media on January 31. Guyton went on to call the CX-90 a breakthrough vehicle in its segment. Program manager Mitsuru Wakiie said the vehicle’s new architecture and propulsion choices represent engineering that will help the large SUV “maintain Mazda signature driving dynamics.”
Mild-hybrid and PHEV options
The CX-90’s propulsion options are led by a turbocharged 3.3-L DOHC inline 6-cyl. — a refinement-first engine layout that Mazda had promised to reinstitute. The longitudinal mounting of the engine was intended by Mazda as a prime aspect of the CX-90’s new, “rear-wheel bias” large-vehicle platform. The platform also is intended as the foundation for a smaller CX-70 variant to sit between the new CX-90 and the current CX-50.
The turbocharged I-6 develops 340 hp and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm), Mazda said, although those figures are achieved with premium unleaded fuel. The company said the power and torque ratings are the strongest ever for a Mazda production-vehicle engine. In an added twist, the engine incorporates a mild-hybrid system with an electric motor located in the P2 position between the engine and the 8-speed automatic transmission that is standard for all CX-90 models. The electric motor can launch the CX-90 from standstill, propel the vehicle at low speeds and augment the engine’s output when appropriate. The P2-placed motor also means the transmission does not require a torque converter.
Mazda explains by saying in a release that the 8-speed automatic was “specifically designed for the electrified longitudinal powertrains and large-platform vehicles. The multi-speed automatic gearbox, without a torque converter, achieves smooth and direct acceleration while improving drivetrain efficiency.”
The second powertrain option for the 2024 CX-90 is a variant of Mazda’s longstanding Skyactiv 2.5-L DOHC four-cylinder in a plug-in hybrid arrangement incorporating an electric motor and 17.8-kWh battery pack. Wakiie said the engine is tuned specifically for the CX-90 application and combined with the electric motor can muster a total of 323 hp and the same 369 lb-ft as the turbocharged I-6 drivetrain. This variant of the CX-90 can operate purely as an EV at higher speeds, although the company did not offer specifics.
Mazda said its i-Activ all-wheel drive is standard and that the vehicle employs the Kinematic Posture Control chassis-control software first deployed for the MX-5 roadster. The system controls body lift while cornering to provide more comfort for occupants.
The company did not present details of the 3-row 2024 CX-90s dimensions. The current 3-row CX-9, which the CX-90 replaces, has a wheelbase of 115.3 in. (2929 mm) and has a 199.4-in. (5065-mm) overall length.Continue reading »