A red 2024 Mazda CX-90 is shown parked near a city after visiting a Mazda dealer.

How Mazda Is Leading the Race When It Comes to Technology

Do you remember teachers saying: “You better learn this math because you won’t have a calculator in your pocket in the real world?” The joke’s on you, Mrs. Johnson, because I can now have a calculator in my car. Why would you want to crunch numbers on the road? I genuinely don’t know––but hey, it’s possible! Of course, most manufacturers are developing more practical tech features for their vehicles, from built-in navigation to ways to take phone calls while driving. Some of the most high-tech models you will find today can be discovered at your local Mazda dealer.

Mazda is one of the oldest and most creative automobile manufacturers from the far east. In fact, Mazda has been building cars for longer than Toyota, Honda, and Subaru––all legendary Japanese automotive manufacturers with millions of vehicles across the globe. What does this tell you? Throughout the years, if there’s one thing Mazda isn’t short of, it’s innovation. Mazda exceeds the competition in many ways, and its R&D department is giving much larger car brands a run for their money regarding tech features. Let’s talk about this for a moment.

The light gray interior and dash of a 2024 Mazda CX-90 is shown.

The Big Race

Automotive manufacturers have been racing––no pun intended––to achieve dominance in all areas of the automotive experience. The latest race isn’t about fuel efficiency, horsepower, or top speed. No, the recent race––if you can call it recent––is undoubtedly rooted in technology. I have a question for you. If you visit a dealership today, what are your chances of finding a brand-new vehicle that doesn’t have a screen? This is a question that’s only going to become more relevant. However, if you place two cars next to each other from separate manufacturers––but with similar price tags––you’ll find that tech features like the screen size aren’t always comparable. Speaking of screen sizes: this is a fantastic place to start discussing Mazda tech features.

The Importance of Screen Size in Your Car

Screen size is important––especially if you’re driving––because you don’t want to be squinting to read small text, and if you’re trying to access media controls, you’re less likely to press the wrong button with a larger screen. The great thing about Mazda’s infotainment centers is that the screens in the base models are always respectably sized and aren’t missing many features compared to the more expensive trims. One look at the current lineup tells you all you need to know.

We’re in an era where some manufacturers are still putting five-inch screens in their cars––looking at you, Ram. Even the pricey 2023 Ram 3500 still comes with only a five-inch screen. However, Mazda’s lineup starts with nothing smaller than a seven-inch screen, and there is only one model with a seven-inch screen: the equally diminutive MX-5 Miata roadster. Most current Mazda models have an 8.8-inch screen, while the CX-5, CX-9, and CX-90 have a 10.25-inch display standard.

Compared to other manufacturers, you may consider Mazda already ahead of the curve, especially if your current vehicle has something like a five-inch infotainment center or perhaps none at all. You may also be aware that some brands are on the other end of the spectrum, and they have screens that can put your laptop to shame, so how does Mazda hold up? If the standard 8.8-inch and 10.25-inch screens aren’t cutting it for you and you’d rather have a better display, there’s great news.

Owners of the new CX-90 can swap the 10.25-inch screen out for something better––there’s an available crisp high-definition display with vibrant colors that measures an impressive 12.3 inches. This is on par with the best infotainment displays across the industry, including screens offered by the likes of Kia, Jeep, Hyundai, and Nissan. It also outmatches the largest screens from Ram, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi. However, screen size is only a part of the race to technological dominance, and Mazda isn’t content with simply including larger-than-average displays in its modern vehicles.

The light gray dash in a 2024 Mazda CX-90.is shown.

The Importance of Buttons in Your Car

No matter what Steve Jobs had you believing back in 2007, touching glass isn’t the answer to everything. Listen up: I know your phone has a touchscreen––and maybe even your laptop does––but touchscreens aren’t always the best for vehicles. I believe much of this comes down to personal preference, but there’s undoubtedly one thing that is more likely with a touchscreen than a vehicle with analog controls: malfunctions. Mazda doesn’t like touchscreens––and quite frankly, when talking about automobiles, I don’t either.

The controls you’ll find inside a Mazda vehicle are tangible buttons with real feedback––something sorely missing on your average capacitive touchscreen. While some manufacturers are turning to haptic displays to provide feedback, they are not too common and still don’t replicate the feel of physical buttons. Analog controls are simply a better experience––one spin of the volume wheel to control your audio, and you’ll feel right at home. Mazda understands this and equips all its vehicles with a multifunction Commander control similar to what you will find in high-end luxury vehicles. This rotary dial and collection of buttons on the center console allow you to control all the tech features in your Mazda without having to navigate through a touchscreen.

That’s what’s so great about Mazda: combining the old with the new creates an experience that feels unique, like something formed by merging two different timelines to bring out the best of the old and using it to rectify the annoyances of newer infotainment centers. My mother mentions to me at least a few times a year how much she misses analog media controls because the touchscreen in her Cadillac malfunctions too often, meaning she can’t even change the track on a CD or adjust the EQ settings when the system acts up. Believe me, it’s frustrating, and while I can’t attest to every infotainment center, I’ve had negative experiences with touchscreen infotainment centers due to bugs and errors far more than I have with physical controls.

A silver 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF is shown parked on a street.

The Final Lap

Now that technology is heavily integrated into the modern-day driving experience, it will never disappear. Think about it: billions of people have cell phones, and why would that change? How could that change? In the technology field, things are rarely reverted, only improved upon. Manufacturers will continue to compete with one another in every possible avenue, but the way I see it, technology is the ultimate test. However, technology for technology’s sake often causes as many problems as its solves. It still needs to be a seamless addition to vehicles, and that is where Mazda excels.

Manufacturers will never rest because there’s always something innovative around the corner––and if it’s introduced by your competitor, then you best get to work on a better product. Many drivers swear that Tesla’s infotainment center is the top dog, and most manufacturers are busy trying to one-up Tesla’s tech-forward interface. However, not everyone is happy driving a computer on wheels that requires you to dig through touchscreen menus to adjust the climate control or turn on the headlights. If you want a more traditional experience that still offers cutting-edge tech features, a visit to your local Mazda dealer might be in order. If you ask me, Mazda vehicles offer some of the best value from a tech perspective.