Vancouver: 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 found out.

Vancouver local Kim Macpherson can look out onto her drive 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 emission-free Mazda MX-30 EV, deft at navigating the city with ease and elegance. As Kim knows well, both SUVs epitomise 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 all-new Mazda CX-90 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 new 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 e-Skyactiv PHEV powertrain, 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 hp, over 2000L of cargo space and with enough room to sit eight passengers across three rows, this headlining vehicle is just as adept for quick trips into town as it is cruising comfortably on the highway. It’s all about making the most of its 40km electric range and neighbouring 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 which is the MyMazda smartphone app, which Kim has already utilised to not only unlock the car, but also to pre-heat 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 towards central Vancouver in full electric mode. Confident in what makes a good drive—or, perhaps, what doesn’t—the CX-90’s plug-in hybrid capabilities are a big hit with Kim. “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 60% in 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 — 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, heightened the SUV’s responsiveness and, for Kim, gave 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, a four-year-old and Ukee, a 55lb Australian Shepherd, safety features rank highly for Kim. 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 keep Kim aware of any incoming traffic. Useful in the city, of course, but 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 2000L 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. These functionalities, Kim says, set the CX-90 apart from other EVs that are popular throughout Canada, many of which are made by a certain electric mega-producer. “You see a million of them around Vancouver,” she laughs. “They all look the same!”

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 pounds-feet 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