Hybrid Power: Mazda Reveals More Details for CX-90

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
hybrid power mazda reveals more details for cx 90

Mazda has confirmed that the upcoming CX-90 three-row SUV will be the first of its U.S. products to utilize a plug-in-hybrid powertrain. Leading up to the formal debut, scheduled for next month, the automaker released a teaser of the crossover's back hatch – showcasing an "e-Skyactiv PHEV" badge with some blue accenting. 

With the two biggest gripes about the CX-9 being a lack of cargo volume when the third row is in play and the fact that Mazda’s largest product could use a little more horsepower to complement its sublime handling, the CX-90 seems to exist solely to address those modest grievances without ruining the overall recipe. 

“The CX-90 PHEV will maintain the responsiveness, performance, and driving dynamics that define Mazda vehicles,” writes Mazda. “This all-new e-Skyactiv powertrain, tuned specifically for the North American market, will provide customers with the best of both worlds in terms of performance and efficiency.”

Claims about Mazda injecting a playful personality into every single one of its products are the kind of commercial assertions your author despises. Though it needs to be said that the brand’s products frequently do live up to the marketing hype. That doesn’t necessarily make them better workhorses than what’s on offer from their rivals. But they’re frequently more fun to drive, despite Mazda spec sheets often showcasing economy car figures. 

Unless someone is LS swapping their MX-5, you’re unlikely to hear discussions regarding overly powerful Mazdas. In fact, the brand is loaded up with vehicles that could probably use a few extra ponies and perhaps some added practicality before I would consider owning one. However literally every Mazda engineer I’ve ever spoken to has stressed things like maximizing responsiveness and that makes a big difference in terms of driving enjoyment. While other companies focused on delivering neutral-feeling (see: soulless) crossovers without a lot of personality, Mazda is giving us fun-to-drive beauties with excellent interiors that may not be as comfortable on those rougher stretches of pavement. 

In terms of the CX-90, we’re expecting something that rides a little softer than what we’ve grown accustomed to due to the vehicle’s presumed increase in size and weight over the CX-9. The hybrid powertrain is also new territory for the brand, though initial impressions of Europe’s hybridized CX-60 have yielded mixed results. Despite yielding a combined output of 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the smaller Euro-focused Mazda has been chided for having an unrefined-feeling powertrain that seems to struggle at higher engine speeds. This is a gripe that’s not uncommon to specific models known for having buzzy engines that seem at odds with otherwise desirable driving dynamics (cough CX-5).

Our guess is that, since the CX-90 is on the same platform as the CX-60, there’s a chance that its 2.5-liter hybrid could make an appearance on the U.S. model – likely with the 17.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and maximum power being boosted a tad. 

Not interested? Fear not, because the crossover is also supposed to get the inline-six motor everyone’s been having wet dreams about for years before it was confirmed by the manufacturer. However, the 3.3-liter straight six (aided by 48-volt, mild-hybrid technology) we’ve seen slotted into the CX-60 aren’t producing dazzling figures on the dynamometer. There exist reports indicating that the powerplant is barely cresting 280 horsepower, though subsequent digging has suggested that this may be due to more stringent emission laws existing in places that are not the United States. 

Australian outlet CarExpert has even quoted a Mazda rep who implied that the powerplant would likely see a different tune on other markets – something which has been the case generally for years. 

"The inline-six petrol specifications for the CX-70 and CX-90 in North America will be shared at a later date," they said. “As for the e-Skyactiv X petrol engine, Mazda plans to introduce this to Europe and will announce the launch timing at a later date.”

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the upcoming CX-90. But Mazda has promised it would be “wider, longer, and more aggressive" than just about everything it sells today.

[Image: Mazda]

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3 of 22 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 13, 2022

    Curb weight of the CX-90 might start with a 5.

    • SPPPP SPPPP on Dec 14, 2022

      I wouldn't think so... but it is getting uncomfortably close. The CX-9 is supposedly 4409 lbs - about on par with other unibody 3-row SUVs - and about half a ton less than the big body-on-frame SUVs. The heaviest CX-60 is 4568 lbs. The CX-90 will be on the CX-60 platform, so I think it "should" be under 4800 lbs.

  • Collin Collin on Dec 14, 2022

    Mazda always trails BMW with their innovations, which is why I call them budget beemers and recommend them to anyone who likes to drive but can’t afford european. So with BMW’s 48v assisted I-6, it’s totally in-line for Mazda to introduce one, and with the wide range hybridization and turbo-ing can do to engine power (Volvo for example), it’s also not a surprise the same powertrain would be 280hp in Europe and 350 in the US. Also, idk why anyone still complains about three rows AND cargo. There are only two models that have both: the GMC/Chevy/Caddy XL/Suburban/ESV and the Ford/Lincoln Expedition/Navigator. A foreign carmaker is never going to build something long enough to accommodate both due to their local regulations.

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