Mazda has a big year on the horizon, coming off a sales boom throughout 2021 and 2022. In fact, 2021 proved to be a big year for Mazda, with a sizable 19.2% increase in year-over-year sales compared to 2020. Mazda’s best sellers in recent times have been the CX-30, CX-5, and CX-9, all of which recently achieved their best sales since launch. Lots of people have been flocking to every Mazda dealership they can find to get their hands on some of these popular vehicles, so you might be shocked to know that not all of Mazda’s popular nameplates are making a return for 2023.
Mazda previously culled the Mazda6 and the CX-3 from the lineup in 2022, although it added the all-electric MX-30 and the popular new CX-50. For 2023 another casualty joins the list: the CX-9. Yes, that’s right, the CX-9’s final year on the market will be the 2023 model. That might leave some of you scratching your heads, but Mazda is actually prepping for a rather sizable 2024. Some big changes are inbound, and some nice surprises are waiting for potential car shoppers.
The CX-9 Is Out…
The 2023 Mazda CX-9 will be the last time you’ll be able to get your hands on a brand-new CX-9. This three-row SUV will be heading out after being a mainstay in Mazda’s offerings for the last 16 years. After debuting the vehicle in 2006, Mazda kept the CX-9 around for a couple of generations, mainly appealing to the Western markets where it serves as a sizable three-row SUV for those who needed something roomier than the subcompact and compact models that Mazda typically provides.
The news about the CX-9 might seem surprising given that it was one of the big sellers for Mazda in recent years, and it had a strong 2022, according to Mazda’s own recent sales results. One might think the CX-9 would remain in production, given its long history on the market and its role as a pillar in the Mazda lineup when COVID disrupted sales and production. However, it’s not all bad news.
For 2023, the outgoing CX-9 actually has some minor changes made. The most significant change was that Mazda axed the base Sport trim from the lineup. Now the starting trim for the 2023 CX-9 is the Touring. The complete trim lineup consists of the Touring, Touring Plus, Carbon Edition, Grand Touring, and Signature for the final model year of this three-row crossover.
The CX-90 Is In…
Starting production in 2023 for a 2024 model year debut is the all-new CX-90. However, the CX-90 is a stark departure from the CX-9. It’s not just another three-row SUV but rather Mazda’s first attempt at delivering a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to the North American market. With production kicking off in 2023, big announcements and a steady flow of news will roll out throughout the year, leading to a lot of traffic making its way to Mazda dealerships, mostly consisting of eager shoppers looking to get their hands on the new CX-90.
In many ways, the CX-90 paves the way for what we’re to expect from Mazda in the near-term future. A PHEV obviously lays the groundwork for a lot of possibilities for the company, continuing its expansion into the world of electrification. There are several features that make the e-Skyactiv platform noteworthy. As a plug-in hybrid, you can operate the CX-90 as a traditional hybrid, where the internal combustion engine powers the car and regenerative braking recaptures energy lost in acceleration. However, you can also plug the vehicle into a charging station and drive on electricity for shorter trips.
But the CX-90 is more than just Mazda’s first PHEV. It also offers a powerful new 3.3L turbocharged inline-six engine that marks Mazda’s ascension into the world of true luxury vehicles. This Mazda engine generates 340 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, putting the CX-90 in the same ballpark as the BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS. Options are plentiful, and the CX-90 has all the makings of being a big mover for Mazda if the brand can manage to get it out to Mazda dealerships in a timely manner.
The CX-70 Is on the Way…
Keeping with the theme of having a robust lineup of different SUVs available, another upcoming addition to Mazda’s offerings is the CX-70. While the CX-90 will be the three-row replacement for the outgoing CX-9, the CX-70 is going to be a two-row midsize crossover that slots between the CX-50 and the CX-90. With this addition, Mazda will have the compact, midsize, and three-row categories covered.
The CX-70, much like its larger CX-90 counterpart, is also powered by the new e-Skyactiv PHEV platform. Both vehicles will be slightly more powerful than the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that powers the CX-50 and CX-9, as well as much more efficient. This aims the CX-70 squarely at the crowd who wants great gas mileage, spiffy performance, and luxurious design out of their midsize SUV.
Consistent Offerings for 2023…
With the CX-3 and Mazda6 both culled from the lineup for the 2022 model year, Mazda was down two nameplates, but those models had an exciting replacement in the form of the 2023 CX-50, a stylish new compact SUV. However, with the CX-9 having its final year on the market in 2023, it means that the focus now falls on the mainstays of the brand, namely the CX-30, CX-5, and Mazda3.
Additionally, if you missed out on the debut of the 2022 MX-30 at the end of 2021, Mazda’s all-electric subcompact is available as a 2023 model. However, production of this model continues to be marginal and restricted to the California market. The 2023 CX-30, however, has a small boost in performance with a powertrain upgrade for the new model year. New colors for the CX-5 and MX-5 also help round out the changes and offerings for 2023. In many ways, this year seems like a hold-over until the big content drops for the 2024 models.
Passing the Baton
With two new PHEV additions to the Mazda lineup in 2024, it is clear that the brand will be focusing more seriously on alternative fuel options instead of incrementally updating its existing Skyactiv-G platforms. What’s interesting here is that Mazda seems confident in attacking multiple SUV segments with different-sized PHEVs in a short period of time. Will the bold risk pay off? It is difficult to say, especially considering that the outgoing CX-9 is no sales slouch, and it’s a tall order to expect the CX-90 to pick up the sales baton being passed on from the CX-9.
Since it’s going to be a real gamble for Mazda to replace some nameplates with PHEVs, getting customers excited for the 2024 model years with a drip feed of new information throughout 2023 makes the most sense. Will it be enough to encourage onlookers and prospective buyers to take the bait and put in pre-orders at their local Mazda dealerships? Maybe so. But one thing is for sure, Mazda is not standing idly by waiting to adopt alternative fuels for its lineup of vehicles, and the results of its embrace of electrification are stunning.