A disguised prototype in the US may have provided our first look at Mazda’s largest SUV, the US-bound, rear- and all-wheel-drive CX-90.
A prototype SUV believed to be the upcoming 2023 Mazda CX-90 has been spied testing, ahead of its global unveiling due before the end of the year – though an Australian launch remains under consideration, and not locked in.
While the car doesn’t wear Mazda badges, the shape and signatures of the tail-lights are similar to those of the CX-60 – the first new SUV on Mazda’s new rear-wheel-drive platform – as is the CX-60-style strip of trim on the bodywork behind the front wheel.
An image of the prototype’s side profile shows a large overhang behind the rear wheels – suggesting it features a third row of seats.
These clues suggest we’re looking at a prototype of the Mazda CX-90, the next model in Mazda’s range of four rear-wheel-drive-based SUVs, due to be revealed within nine months – and a direct successor to the three-row CX-9 in the US.
The CX-90 is the largest of the four models, with three rows of seats, and a ‘wide-body’ design aimed at North American markets, where “larger models with a big presence are preferred,” according to Mazda.
It will join a two-row CX-70 version – with the same US-centric wide body – plus two ‘narrow-body’ models aimed at Europe and Japan, the two-row CX-60 (the only one confirmed for Australia thus far) and three-row CX-80.
Powering the CX-90 and CX-70 in North America will be a choice of a new turbocharged inline six-cylinder petrol engine, or a plug-in hybrid system (likely based around a four-cylinder engine).
That’s in contrast to the CX-60 and CX-80 bound for other regions, which will offer non-turbo SkyActiv-X petrol and turbo SkyActiv-D diesel inline-six engines with 48-volt mild-hybrid systems, plus a four-cylinder plug-in hybrid and a regular base four-cylinder petrol engine.
In the US and Canada, the CX-90 will serve as the replacement for today’s CX-9, on sale since 2016 – however it is unclear if Australia will follow, as the CX-90 is believed to remain only “under consideration” for sale locally.
“America has confirmed exactly which of the four [‘large’ platform SUVs] they are getting so they are in a better position to clarify what that means for their existing line up,” a Mazda Australia spokesperson told Drive last year.
“For us, we have only locked CX-60 for Australia at this stage so it’s most important for us to also confirm CX-5 will live alongside it.
“Once we are able to confirm whether we will be bringing CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 here, we will have better visibility on what that means for CX-9 and whether the specs and grade offerings can complement each other in a similar way to CX-3 and CX-30, or not.”
The 2023 Mazda CX-90 is slated to go into production before the end of the Japanese financial year, which concludes on 31 March 2023. Expect a global reveal towards the end of this year.