The Urban Adventurist


The Urban Adventurist

The Mazda CX‑90 PHEV, already established as a long-distance luxury cruiser, also proves to be just as capable within the city, as Vancouver native and Mazda devotee Kim Macpherson finds out.

Vancouver local Kim Macpherson can look out onto her driveway and see not one, but two Mazdas. The first is the Mazda CX‑5, a spacious family SUV with powerful driving dynamics and advanced safety technologies; and the other is the nimble, efficient, and tailpipe-emission-free Mazda MX‑30 EV, deft at navigating the city with ease and elegance. As Kim knows well, both SUVs epitomize Mazda’s signature philosophy of enjoying every minute of driving every single day.

Today, however, there’s been an addition to this impressive line-up: the Mazda CX‑90 GS-L PHEV. Housing both the striking performance of a combustion engine and the clean power of an electric motor, the CX‑90 accommodates the benefits of each of Kim’s SUVs in one impressive package, with the ability to switch modes in seconds. And it’s this synthesis that sees Mazda Stories joining Kim as she puts the SUV to the test over the course of a weekend and, crucially, to see if the CX‑90 is a worthy addition to the family’s Mazda line-up.

With a 2.5-litre e-Skyactiv PHEV engine, this masterstroke balances impressive power and remarkable efficiency with the delicate touch characteristic of Mazda’s master engineers. There’s no mistaking that it’s Mazda’s largest SUV, either. Packing 323 horsepower and over 2,000 litres of cargo space, and with three rows of seats, this headlining vehicle is just as adept for quick trips into town as it is at cruising comfortably on the highway. It’s all about making the most of its electric range of up to 40 km1 and neighboring gas engine.

“We’ve test driven a number of other SUVs before,” says Kim, as she plots her route to a local coffee spot into the CX‑90’s onboard navigation system. “Mazdas feel more luxurious with the finishes, the seats, and all the extra features.” One of these is the available MyMazda smartphone app2, which Kim has already utilized not only to unlock the car, but also to preheat the CX‑90’s interior. High-end materials including Nappa leather keep things comfortable inside, while the tasteful Kodo-designed lines, curves, and bends give it a head-turning presence.

It’s an SUV with plenty of smarts, Kim agrees, as it pulls away quietly toward central Vancouver in full electric mode. The CX‑90’s plug-in hybrid capabilities are a big hit with her. “You have the ability to do both gas and electric, and only need the one vehicle,” she says. “Most buildings have an EV charging plug outside too, so that’s not a big deal either.” Kim’s not wrong: with a Level 2 charger, the CX‑90 can increase its charge by up to 60 per cent in as little as under 80 minutes. Handy if you’re in a pinch.

“You have the ability to do both and only need the one vehicle.”

Driving the CX‑90 between errands with coffee now secured: dog walks and meet-ups with friends are next up on the agenda. Kim enjoys how nimble the CX‑90 is meandering through the city. “It doesn’t feel cumbersome, and it’s a fun car to drive,” she says. Its available Sports Mode, accessible through the Mi‑Drive system, heightens the SUV’s responsiveness and, for Kim, gives it a “fun and zippy feeling” on more open roads, too.

So far, so Mazda. Though it’s not just about performance. As a mother to a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and the owner of Ukee, a 25 kg Australian Shepherd, Kim ranks safety features highly. The CX‑90’s available See-through View, designed to provide unobstructed sight into the areas around the CX‑90, “is really helpful in downtown traffic,” she says. The Front Cross and Rear Cross Traffic Alert system also help keep Kim aware of incoming traffic. Useful in the city, of course, and vital for improved family safety.

“It doesn’t feel cumbersome, and it’s a fun car to drive.”

After walking a now-muddy Ukee in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, the CX‑90’s 2,000 litres of cargo space is just the ticket, as is the hands-free liftgate, easily activated with a light kicking motion, for stowing away any dog-walking gear and essential groceries.

Now back at home, Kim plugs the CX‑90 in for a quick top-up. It’s clear that Mazda’s new SUV, with 369 lb ft of torque, is ready for anything—rain or shine, city streets or country roads. “The CX‑90 is a practical, easy-to-use vehicle and is still great fun to drive,” she happily confirms after a day spent putting it to the test, proving that it’s a perfect blend of connectivity, capability, and character.

Words Ed Cooper / Photography Brian Caissie, Magnafire