The new CX-90 full-size SUV is Mazda’s first foray into the world of electrification.
Much like its CX-9 predecessor, the CX-90 promises great handling, attractive styling, upscale interiors, and third-row seats, but it also adds the benefits of mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the issues and complaints CX-90 owners have had since its release.
Table of Contents
1. Sensitive Blind-Spot Monitoring
Several CX-90 owners have complained about the Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system giving false alerts.
Although the system does a good job of alerting you when other vehicles are in your blind spot, it will often light up even if you’re driving on a completely empty road.
Owners have reported that this issue occurs on the driver’s side more than the passenger side.
Here is how a few owners described their experience on CX90Forum.com:
“The driver side BSM has issues though, am getting into a state where it just starts putting out a false positive. Weirdly enough even when this is occurring, when I am on the highway, the system will still accurately get real cars driving through my blindspot, then after a period of nothing in my blind spot the monitor will come on and hold for 15-30 seconds at a time.”
“I may have found a particular ‘pathway’ or section of a county road where BSM has given false driver side warnings (couple times).”
“I’m also consistently getting false alerts on the driver-side BSM… better than a false negative, but annoying nevertheless.”
“My driver-side BSM is getting worse though, thankfully it works perfectly fine at highway speeds. But from 30-50 mph, it will just come on (alerting) and hold for long periods of time 30-60 seconds at a time. I have also had it trigger for the vehicle exit warning in an empty parking lot. So clearly there is something wrong with that system, and with so many reporting the same issue on just the driver side probably a software bug.”
Other CX-90 owners on the Mazdas247.com forum had this to say:
“We were experiencing driver side blind spot monitoring system malfunction. It would randomly and falsely warn us of a car in our blind spot when there isn’t. It sometimes just stays on for no reason when the car is in motion and even when stationary.”
“Had the false positive trigger an emergency braking when backing out of a parking spot in a parking lot this weekend. Driver side was the “closer” corner to the row of cars behind me, absolutely no movement what so ever.”
False alerts from the Blind Spot Monitoring system are not unique to the CX-90. Many owners of the latest generation Mazda 3 and CX-5 have also reported similar issues.
Although there is no fix yet for this issue, it will hopefully be resolved in the future with a software fix or a calibration of the blind spot monitor hardware.
Most Mazda owners take comfort in the fact that the BSM has no problems detecting actual hazards on the road. But if you’re always getting alerts, you might eventually dismiss and ignore them altogether, making them essentially useless.
If you’re always getting false alerts, it’s best to take your car back to the dealer for a proper diagnosis, since the issue might be caused by faulty sensors.
If your dealer is having trouble replicating the issue, you can have a passenger take a video of the problem while you’re driving it so they’ll have more information to work with.
2. Driver Personalization Issues
The Mazda CX-90 has a cool new feature that uses facial recognition to automatically apply the saved seat, steering wheel, side mirrors, head up display, radio presets, and climate control settings for a specific person.
However, a few CX-90 owners have been frustrated by the driver recognition system’s inconsistency.
Here is how one owner described their issues on the CX90 subreddit:
“The selected driver doesn’t always recognize you. I’d say 60% of the time it gets it wrong and defers to Guest.”
Another owner on CX90Forum.com also had issues with driver recognition:
“The driver recognition system usually sets all my settings correctly but has stopped midway once it twice. The bigger failure is to recognize our faces, which happens ~30%. Failure increases in low light but can still happen on a bright, sunny day. When it fails to detect it then moves off the selection screen to quickly a quarter of the time. I have to go back into settings to select my profile.”
Other CX-90 owners had this to say:
“Wife had the same problem with driver recognition, I had her redo. If it does the re training too quickly, it is still broken. When it asks to turn your head side to side, do so slowly. Also had her do an alternate appearance with sunglasses on, and it has been working well since.”
“My success rate on driver recognition went way up if I just wait for it to recognize before I turn on the car. It is a program sequencing thing where if it hasn’t detected you before turning on the car, it just defaults to guest.”
The CX-90’s driver recognition system certainly isn’t perfect, but it works decently enough for the few times that you have to switch drivers, especially since it’s extremely cutting-edge tech for the automotive industry.
To get the facial recognition and driver personalization system to work as intended, you should give the car a couple of seconds to recognize you before pushing the start button.
If the system is really having trouble recognizing your face, redo the driver profile setup in better lighting conditions.
When the facial recognition fails and automatically sets the profile to ‘Guest’ you can always go into the settings and manually select your desired driver profile.
3. Hesitation at Low Speed
Mazda CX-90 owners and professional car reviewers have complained that the car has a tendency to shudder and hesitate when driving from a stop or at slow speeds.
Most people would attribute this behavior up to the transmission, but it’s likely caused by the mild hybrid system’s transition from EV to ICE power.
Here is how a few owners described their experience:
“Engine is and has plenty of power (Turbo S) but the transmission stutters occasionally in low speed. This happens most often from a full stop.”
“I’ve noticed some jerkiness with the tranny. Almost like someone trying to learn a manual. I think it is because it shifts as soon as it can. Mine is doing it less with 1k miles now. I stop off or on doesn’t matter. I noticed it less in sport mode when it holds the gear longer.”
“Since the electric motor takes over as you roll to a stop, if you don’t come to a complete stop (i.e., you do a rolling stop or a stop/immediate acceleration), there’s definitely a weird delay when (it feels like) the electric motor is switching back to the gas engine. And if you do come to a complete stop, when you press the gas pedal to go, if you accelerate lightly, you get a noticeable shift between first and second. If you accelerate with a little more intention, or accelerate hard, the delay isn’t present.”
All these seem to be in line with how Top Gear magazine described their experience with the Mazda CX-60 which uses the same platform and powertrain:
“On the move, things with the CX-60 aren’t quite as positive. At low speed the calibration between petrol and electric power is a little clunky, with some alarming noises as the internal combustion engine and auto gearbox sort themselves out.”
Ironically, mild hybrid systems are supposed to make the gas engine’s start-stop behavior more seamless by using the electric motor to help move the vehicle when the engine isn’t running.
Many Mazda CX-90 owners also report that the engine routinely shuts off while coasting or driving at moderate speeds and notice that the electric motor takes over seamlessly when it does happen.
But when you’re trying to accelerate from a stop or while driving in stop-and-go traffic, the CX-90 can be quite jarring and not as smooth as one would expect from a vehicle that markets itself as an upscale model.
Some CX-90 owners say that turning off the i-Stop start-stop system can help smooth out the slow speed shuddering.
Others say that the shuddering will also become less noticeable over time. This could be because the vehicle has learned your driving habits or people have just gotten used to the slight jerkiness and adjusted how they used the accelerator subconsciously.
If you want to make sure you don’t regret your purchase, it’s best to take the CX-90 out for a test drive and see for yourself if the shuddering is truly a major concern, especially if you’re thinking about buying the mild hybrid versions.
It’s also worth noting that this can also be eventually fixed through a software update.
4. Low Battery Warning
Mazda CX-90 owners may encounter an error on the dash saying ‘Battery Saving Mode. Drive Vehicle to Charge Battery.”
This same error has been popping up on other new Mazda models like the CX-30 and CX-50, as well as the CX-60 which is exclusively sold in other markets around the world.
The “Battery Saving Mode” warning on the dashboard, which is then followed by several chimes, typically only happens if the car’s electronic accessories have been active for 30 minutes or more with the engine turned off. Despite the warning, the car should still start with no additional errors or issues.
However, in some cases, owners have found that the battery gets fully drained soon after seeing the warning, and are only able to get the car to turn on after getting a jump start.
The following can keep the Mazda CX-90’s electronics awake and drain the battery:
- Leaving the doors and/or tailgate open
- Listening to the radio
- Leaving the car in ‘Accessory’ mode
- Adjusting the seats
- Turning on the cabin lights
- Leaving the key fob nearby
- Installing aftermarket accessories like dashcams
Mazda already updated the software in its other vehicles to make sure the battery warning doesn’t pop up unnecessarily.
If you can still start the car, you should just let the engine run for 15 to 30 minutes so it can charge the battery back up. Otherwise, you can jump start the car or replace the 12-volt battery for a known good unit to get the car running again.
Mazda also recently released a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) for the CX-90 which recommends simply disconnecting the 12-volt battery’s negative terminal for up to 6 hours so that the computers can reset themselves which usually sorts out any software bugs and glitches.
If the car’s 12-volt battery continues to drain on its own, the dealer should be able to check if it’s caused by a wiring issue or faulty hardware. Removing any aftermarket electronics can also help narrow down the cause of the parasitic drain.
If you’re worried about getting stranded due to a drained battery, you can keep a portable jump starter inside the car at all times. You can always open the door using the emergency key inside the key fob if the keyless entry system stops working.
5. Door Noise
Some Mazda CX-90 owners may notice a strange squeaking, rubbing or rattling noise when closing the front doors.
This problem shouldn’t affect the car’s reliability or drivability, but it can leave a negative impression of the vehicle especially considering its higher price and otherwise luxury trimmings.
Mazda has already released a TSB to address this issue. It instructs dealers to place some padding or felt material around the door wiring harness to get rid of the rubbing sound.
The TSB also states that Mazda is working on a fix to make sure the issue doesn’t affect newer models of the CX-90.
6. Engine Malfunction Error
A few CX-90 owners have reported encountering an error on the dash saying ‘Engine Malfunction. Have the vehicle Inspected.”
The message usually appears while the vehicle is being driven and the engine doesn’t completely shut down, but it does go into ‘limp mode’ and reduces engine power significantly.
Several users on the Mazda CX-90 subreddit had this to say:
“I bought a brand new CX-90 and in less than a week it went into limp mode while I was coming home. Speed was limited to 20 or 30 mph or less and basically drove like a grandma until I got to my driveway.
“So we picked up the car (GS-L) and needed to drive it home (around 500km away). Great time to break it in. Was doing 120-130 on highway mostly and all good. Stopped for coffee around 300kms in and now there is a warning on the dash showing “ Engine Malfunction, have the vehicle inspected “. In the app it states that there is a malfunction, to drive at moderate speed and go to dealer. Fantastic, 2nd day with the car and now starting off like this.”
“I just did a test drive on the S and the dash was lit up like a Christmas tree. 270mi on the test drive car so maybe it was redlined a lot, but yikes. I-stop malfunction, engine malfunction, hybrid drive malfunction. I brought it up to 5k RPM and was greeted with a LOUD banging noise. Like someone just bowled a strike right under the hood.”
CX-90 owners who have encountered the ‘Engine Malfunction’ error say that their dealers didn’t report any major issues with the vehicle. It’s likely that they merely reset the car’s electronics and the message went away on its own.
This issue will likely be addressed in the near future through a software update as it doesn’t seem to point to any specific problem with the vehicle.
If you do encounter the error while driving, you can try the following to make it go away:
- Turn the vehicle on and off several times
- Shut down the vehicle for 20 to 30 minutes
- Disconnect the 12-volt battery for 30 minutes
These steps can usually get rid of minor software glitches and bugs and are much safer than continuing to drive in limp mode with the error message on the dash.
7. Wireless Charging Issues
Some CX-90 owners have had issues with the vehicle’s wireless charger.
In a lot of cases, the charger heats up the phone really quickly which eventually causes it to stop charging altogether. Sometimes, the charger doesn’t even recognize or charge the phone at all.
Here is how one owner described their experience:
“I’d like to add that the wireless charger just doesn’t work. We took it back to the dealership yesterday to diagnose. Yes, it works for five minutes sitting at the shop but not on the drive home. We took a two hour trip and my iPhone didn’t gain any more charge despite getting very warm, hot actually. Yesterday, my wife’s Samsung charged 1-2% in 25 minutes then started cycling white/green on the charger status. My iPhone went 15 minutes, didn’t charge and started flashing red. They both heated up in that time.”
Similar wireless charger problems are fairly rampant across many vehicles from different car manufacturers, so it’s not exclusively a CX-90 or Mazda issue.
To fix the wireless charging issues, you can try:
- Removing your phone case
- Placing your phone in the center of the charging pad
- Turning on NFC on your Android phone
- Updating your phone’s software
If the issue persists, take your car back to the dealer so they can check if there are any issues with the wireless charger or the wiring. This type of work should be covered while the vehicle is still under warranty
Mazda CX-90 Pros & Cons
- Attractive styling
- Great handling
- Luxurious interior materials
- Roomy cabin
- Good engine performance
- Available plug-in hybrid
- Standard rear-biased all-wheel drive
- No 2nd row bench seats on higher trim levels
- Untested platform and powertrain
What Do The Reviews Say?
“Performance isn’t generally a priority for the midsize three-row SUV buyer, but the CX-90 proves to be quicker, better-handling and more stable than pretty much anything else in the class. We tested the CX-90 with the top-line 340-hp engine. At our test track, the CX-90 accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in a very respectable 6.5 seconds and displayed excellent midrange- and high-rpm punch after that. Squirting through traffic and highway merging is a breeze.”
“We’re also fans of the CX-90’s eight-speed automatic transmission, which shifts quickly and unobtrusively. But we found the engine stop-start feature to be a bit more noticeable than we’d like. It can engage, shutting the gasoline engine off during cruising for better fuel economy, but can be a bit slow to start the engine back up.”
“As you’d expect from a Mazda, handling is something the CX-90 does better than most others in its class. The steering is nicely weighted, and the CX-90 feels planted and secure around corners. The brakes are also worth mentioning. Emergency stopping performance is impressive, but in routine driving we found the brake pedal to be a bit too touchy, which makes it hard to consistently stop smoothly.”
“Sporting one of the most stylish interiors of any midsize three-row SUV, you could argue the CX-90 is almost too nice for daily family duties. Nearly every inch of the CX-90 looks and feels upscale, and you wouldn’t be wrong to compare it to luxury brands such as Acura, Infiniti and Lincoln. But the CX-90’s style comes at a cost.”
Mazda CX-90 Prices
Here’s a quick look at the CX-90’s pricing at the time of writing.
|Premium Plus PHEV||$56,950|
|S Premium Plus||$59,950|