The Mazda CX-90 PHEV is the perfect choice for short daily drives
After driving a Mazda CX-90 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) for three weeks around the City of Regina in electric-only mode – and not using a drop of gasoline – I decided to test the gas engine by taking it on a road trip beyond the range of the battery.
My destination was Moose Jaw, a distance of 65 km. The Mazda CX-90 PHEV has a range of 48 km in electric-only mode on a single charge, so I knew the gas engine would take over well before Moose Jaw. That’s the point of a plug-in hybrid: all electric when charged up – city or highway – and then a gas engine to take over when the battery is drained. It takes about six hours to charge it up when I plug it into the 110-volt outlet on my front porch.
Moose Jaw bills itself as “Canada’s Most Notorious City” thanks to stories that Al Capone escaped to Moose Jaw by train when the heat was on in Chicago. But there’s more to Moose Jaw than legends of the mobster days. The city is home to a NATO training base and the Snowbird aerobatics flight demonstration team; a transportation museum; the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa, which has a hot-water swimming pool heated from far beneath the surface of Moose Jaw; and tunnels under the downtown with three different tours. The Passage to Fortune Tour tells stories of Chinese immigrants who lived in the tunnels around the turn of the last century; The Chicago Connection, about the Al Capone days of the 1920s; and Bunker 24, set in 1958 at the height of the Cold War.
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The Mazda CX-90 has a 17.8 kWh battery to power the electric motor, as well as a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, producing 323 horsepower when using premium fuel, or 319 hp with regular fuel. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard in this all-wheel-drive vehicle. The base price on the test vehicle – the mid-trim GS-L – is $59,950, and the only option was the $450 “Soul Red Chrystal Metallic” exterior paint job.
Mazda also has a gas-only version of the CX-90, with a 3.3-litre inline six-cylinder engine. It’s a mild hybrid with a generator that captures energy when braking and stores it to power the electrical system. This reduces the load on the engine, which helps to save fuel. But the power to move the vehicle comes only from the gas engine.
The most impressive part of the CX-90 is the driver’s position. I’ve never driven a vehicle where it’s easier to find everything – like the gauges with relevant information, the HVAC and sound system controls, and the steering wheel switches. The folks at Mazda should be teaching courses for other automakers on “logic and intuitiveness in vehicles.” I never, while behind the wheel of the Mazda, once thought, “Where is the (whatever)?” or “Why would they put this over there.”
After taking in the Bunker 24 tour and shopping downtown, I drove the Mazda to meet Mac the Moose, the mascot of Moose Jaw. Mac – a statue – was created in 1984 and named Moose Jaw’s Best Celebrity in 2013. Mac made international headlines in 2019 when it turned out he was no longer the biggest moose in the world; there was a bigger moose in Norway. Mac underwent surgery; his antlers were removed and new, larger antlers replaced them – and Mac again claimed the title of tallest moose in the world.
After taking some photos of the Mazda with Mac the Moose, it was time to head home to Regina. The Mazda never handled like an empty, large, three-row crossover but seemed very car-like and was smooth and quiet. The CX-90 sits on a 3,120 mm (123 in) wheelbase and has an overall length of 5,120 mm (202 in). At the end of this day trip, a readout on the dash told me the Mazda still had a range of 670 km using gas.
The Mazda CX-90 PHEV is ideal for someone like me who does about 90 percent of driving on trips under 48 km. a day. And for a very rare road trip – even just Regina to Moose Jaw to meet Mac the Moose – the gas engine is set to go.
Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.
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