Mazda CX-90 to replace CX-9 in the US, Australian plans unclear


The Mazda CX-9 is due to be axed at the end of 2023 in North America. Its future in Australia – where it is one of the best-selling seven-seat family SUVs – is yet to be determined.


The Mazda CX-9 large family SUV will be discontinued in North America within two years to make way for a new upmarket CX-90 SUV – but the future of one of Australia’s favourite seven-seaters is yet to be determined.

According to a global announcement by Mazda on Thursday, the Japanese car maker will introduce five new models internationally over the next two years, four of which will be based on a new rear-wheel-drive platform: CX-60, CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90.

As part of the announcements, it was revealed the Mazda CX-9 will be replaced in the US and Canada by the new, rear-drive CX-90, as the brand’s sole SUV offering with three rows of seats.

“While CX-50 and CX-70 [the new two-row SUVs due in the US in 2022 or 2023] will serve as additions to Mazda’s lineup in the US, CX-90 will replace the current generation CX-9 as Mazda’s US three-row SUV,” a statement from Mazda USA reads.

However, while the CX-9 will be phased out in North America – its main market – Mazda Australia says it is “too early to speculate” on the future of the popular seven-seater locally, given the all-new CX-90 is merely under consideration for an Australian launch, and yet to be locked in.

While Mazda has confirmed the existing CX-5 mid-size and CX-8 large SUVs will continue to be sold alongside the new two-row CX-60 – the only ‘large platform’ model locked in for Australia thus far – the CX-9 was conspicuously missing from last week’s announcement, leading some to speculate the model could be dropped with no replacement in sight.

“America has confirmed exactly which of the four [‘large’ platform SUVs] they are getting so they are in a better position to clarify what that means for their existing line up. For us, we have only locked CX-60 for Australia at this stage so it’s most important for us to also confirm CX-5 will live alongside it,” a Mazda Australia spokesperson told Drive

“Once we are able to confirm whether we will be bringing CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 here, we will have better visibility on what that means for CX-9 and whether the specs and grade offerings can complement each other in a similar way to CX-3 and CX-30, or not.”

As a refresher, last week saw Mazda announce five new mid-size and large SUVs for launch in 2022 and 2023, wearing CX-50, CX-60, CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90 nameplates.

Above: Mazda’s new Large platform.

While the CX-50 will be a US-market model based on the Mazda CX-30’s front-wheel-drive platform – ruled as “highly unlikely” for Australia – the remaining four models ride on a new ‘Large’ platform, based around longitudinally-mounted (front to back) four-cylinder or inline-six engines, driving the rear or all wheels.

CX-60 and CX-70 models offer two rows of seats, while the CX-80 and CX-90 step up to three rows. 

The vehicles will be split further across the markets in which they will be sold; the ‘narrow-body’ CX-60 and CX-80 will be pitched at markets with tighter car parks and streets such as Europe and Japan, while the CX-70 and CX-90 will target interior space-hungry regions including North America.

Given its North American focus, expect the new CX-90 to be similar in size to (or slightly larger than) today’s Mazda CX-9. Expect space up to seven occupants and their luggage, and market positioning between mainstream SUVs such as the Hyundai Palisade and Toyota Kluger, and the premium Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and Genesis GV80.

Mazda’s North American models will be available with a new turbocharged inline-six petrol engine, or a plug-in hybrid system, expected to pair a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor. All Mazda SUVs sold in the US from Model Year 2022 onwards will be fitted as standard with all-wheel drive.

The new Mazda CX-90 – along with the wider CX-50, CX-60, CX-70 and CX-80 line-up – will launch in designated markets in 2022 and 2023, the Japanese brand has confirmed.

Specific launch dates remain thin on the ground, though the front-wheel-drive-based CX-50 will kick off the rollout, with a global reveal slated for November 2021 (likely at the Los Angeles motor show), and the first cars slated to roll out of the Alabama production line in January 2022.

The Mazda CX-60 will launch in Australia sometime in 2022. Across the Pacific, Mazda USA has confirmed the three-row CX-90 will launch before the two-row CX-70, though whether these vehicles are slated for 2022 or 2023 remains to be seen.

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex Misoyannis