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Mazda CX-9 versus Mazda CX-90: what’s the difference?


Mazda is targeting the premium SUV segment with its new CX-90 SUV, but how much does it differ from the existing CX-9?

Mazda has its sights squarely set on the premium SUV market. First, it was the CX-60 that debuted as Mazda’s first vehicle to be run on the large product architecture. Then, the CX-80 and CX-90 were also announced. 

The new CX-90 is due to arrive in Australia in the latter part of 2023.

The Japanese automaker has said that its shift to rear-wheel drive, longitudinal engines and more premium feeling SUVs has helped the brand to offer a vehicle for every kind of buyer. 

2023 Mazda CX-90 side profile studio shot
The new Mazda CX-90 will go on sale in Australia in the second half of 2023

But how much more premium is a CX-90 to a CX-9?

Chasing Cars sat down to figure out the differences between the two models.  It’s worth noting that the CX-9 will be discontinued in Australia by the end of 2023. 

Standard specifications compared

2021 Mazda CX-9 rear 3/4 static
The current Mazda CX-9

The Mazda CX-9 basic specifications on the base Sport variant and up include:

  • 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • Three-zone climate control
  • LED headlights and tail lights 
  • Halogen daytime running lights 
  • Cloth seats (seven-seat layout)
2023 Mazda CX-90 front 3/4 driving on road
The Mazda CX-90 is well equipped as standard, but comes at a price

Standard safety features on the CX-9 include:

  • Front, front-side and curtain airbags 
  • Blind spot monitoring 
  • AEB
  • High beam control
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane keep assist 
  • Rear parking sensors 
  • Rear cross-traffic alert 
  • Reversing camera 
  • Tyre pressure monitoring 
2023 Mazda CX-90 pulling airstream caravan
The Mazda CX-90 will be available only with straight-six engines

The CX-90, meanwhile, has the following features standard across the range:

  • 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen display 
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster 
  • Power adjustable and heated front seats
  • Leather upholstery 
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto 
  • Eight-speaker sound system 
  • Wireless phone charging 
  • Power tailgate 
  • Three-zone climate control
  • 19-inch alloy wheels 
2023 Mazda CX-90 front 3/4 studio shot
The CX-90 comes standard with 10 airbags and plentiful safety tech

Standard safety features on the CX-90 include:

  • Ten airbags
  • 360-degree camera 
  • Blind spot monitoring 
  • Driver monitoring and attention alert 
  • Front and rear cross-traffic alert 
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane keep assist 
  • Front and rear parking sensors 
  • Reverse camera 
  • AEB

Comparing like for like, the Mazda CX-90 certainly has more standard features and a more premium focus, however the CX-9 is still well equipped for less money. 

Dimensions and weight compared 

Mazda CX-90 prototype 2023 front 3/4
The CX-90 weighs 2190kg!

The current CX-9 in base Sport configuration measures in at 5075mm long, 1748mm tall and 1969mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2930mm. The Sport grade’s kerb weight is 1882kg. 

Meanwhile, the new CX-90 is longer at 5120mm, a touch shorter at 1745mm, but is quite a bit wider than the CX-9 at 1994mm. The CX-90 also has a larger wheelbase of 3120mm, which is likely to enhance interior comfort and space. 

But one of the key differences between the two is weight. The CX-90 has a claimed kerb weight of 2190kg, making it 308kg heavier than the CX-9. This could come down to a few factors, including the incorporation of heavier inline-six engines, which we will get into later in this article. 

Mazda CX-9 LE AWD 2023 rear side
The current Mazda CX-9 LE AWD

Local pricing compared 

The Mazda CX-9 currently starts from $47,600 before on-road costs for the Sport two-wheel-drive variant here in Australia. The range tops out at $71,915 before on-road costs for the flagship Azami with all-wheel drive. That’s a price difference of $24,315 between base and flagship grades. 

The CX-90, in comparison, will start at a much higher entry point – $74,385 before on-road costs for the CX-90 Touring – and will cost as much as $100,185 before on-road costs for the Azami flagship. From base variant to flagship, the range spans $25,800. 

Mazda CX-90 prototype 2023 front seats
Inside a Mazda CX-90 prototype

The CX-90 is therefore clearly targeting a completely different part of the market when compared to the CX-9. Although Mazda doesn’t like to say it, at this price point, it’s pushing Mazda closer towards luxury European rivals such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, just to name a few. 

Competitors for Mazda’s SUVs

The current CX-9 competes in a class of large SUVs including the Toyota Kluger and Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Kluger are strong rivals for the CX-9

In comparison, the CX-90 will compete with more luxury alternatives such as the Volvo XC90 (and upcoming EX90), Audi Q7 and the BMW X5

Available powertrains 


No matter which variant of CX-9 you choose to buy, all grades come fitted with Mazda’s 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine. This unit produces outputs of 170kW/420Nm and is available mated to either a front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive setup. 

2021 Mazda CX-9 2.5-litre turbo engine bay
CX-9 gains a 2.5-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine

The only available transmission for the 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder is a six-speed automatic transmission. 

In terms of fuel consumption, Mazda claims that for the front-drive variants, the average combined fuel economy is 8.4L/100km, while the all-wheel drive is understandably a little thirstier, claiming a combined fuel economy figure of 9.0L/100km. 


2023 Mazda CX-90 cutaway chassis and powertrain
Straight-six engines have been introduced for CX-90

Mazda has in some ways gone in the opposite direction of the tide, deciding to bring larger-displacement inline-six engines into production when many manufacturers are looking towards electrification as the answer. 

Two powertrains will be offered for the new CX-90, both of which are 3.3-litre inline-six engines. 

The first is a 3.3-litre turbocharged petrol inline-six engine that produces 254kW of power and 500Nm of torque. Think of this engine like the answer to BMW’s inline-six engines. Mazda says its new petrol six-cylinder engine has a claimed combined fuel economy of 8.2L/100km. 

Mazda CX-90 prototype 2023 engine
Under the plastic is a 3.3-litre turbo six

The second engine is also 3.3-litres in displacement, but is turbo-diesel rather than petrol. The diesel powertrain makes less power than the turbo-petrol – 187kW – but produces more torque than the petrol – 550Nm

Mazda claims that its turbo-diesel six will sip just 5.4L/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, making it much more efficient than the 2.5-litre engine found in the CX-9. 

Why go inline-six?

2023 Mazda CX-90 cutaway chassis picture
The platform of the new Mazda CX-90

Mazda has said that it has been able to make its six-cylinder range of engines more efficient than smaller-displacement engines in its lineup. 

For the diesel unit, in particular, Mazda says it has improved the thermal efficiency of the engine, uses surplus air to aid acceleration response and has lowered nitrous oxide emissions. 

A 48-volt mild-hybrid system also aids in making the engine more efficient, supplementing the combustion engine with power at certain points while driving. 

2023 Mazda 3.3-litre straight-six engine
Mazda’s 3.3-litre straight-six engine

Why not electrification, or a full electric CX-90?

While many other manufacturers are unveiling and releasing new electric SUVs very soon, Mazda seems adamant that its inline-six engines will be the answer for the time being. 

Carmakers such as Volvo, who has announced its fully-electric EX90 SUV will be going into production, have decided enough is enough with the combustion engine. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen have also confirmed electric SUVs to be released in the coming years. 

When speaking to Chasing Cars, Mazda was confident that its new engines would be around for some time, and would not speak about future electrification plans.