The 2024 Mazda CX-90 and 2024 Toyota Highlander are midsize 3-row SUVs that prove you don’t need to pay a luxury-level price to get an opulent and spacious vehicle loaded with tech and safety features.

In this company, the CX-90 is the newbie. Introduced for the 2024 model year, it’s Mazda’s largest and most expensive SUV, perched above models like the CX-5 and CX-50. All-wheel drive is standard, and the CX-90 can be had with one of two powerful turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engines. As shameless gearheads, we’re partial to the one with 340 horsepower on tap. 

As for the Highlander, this latest generation arrived for the 2020 model year and continues to set the bar high among 3-row SUVs. Not hurting matters is the Highlander’s excellent reputation for reliability and strong resale value. This matters to shoppers who want a lot of SUV for their money.

To see how these two compare, let’s dive into some highlights of the Mazda CX-90 and Toyota Highlander.

2024 Mazda CX-90 

The Mazda CX-90 has a starting price of $39,220, including the destination charge. It’s available in eight trims: Turbo Select, Turbo Preferred, Turbo Preferred Plus, Turbo Premium, Turbo Premium Plus, Turbo S, Turbo S Premium, Turbo S Premium Plus. 

See those models with the “S” attached to their names? Those indicate they have the more powerful 340-horsepower turbocharged inline-6 versus the standard 280-hp version. Each comes equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. 

CX-90 Highlights

Classy cabin: The interior quality more than lives up to the CX-90’s posh styling. Higher trims substitute a second-row bench seat for dual captain’s chairs. While these trims’ total capacity drops from eight to seven people, the captain’s chairs are supportive and provide easier access to the third row. Extras like Nappa leather seating, a panoramic sunroof, and heated and ventilated front and second-row seats are available, too.

Standard AWD: Not long ago, Mazda decided that every SUV it sells in the U.S. would come standard with all-wheel drive. This added road grip means paying extra in competing models, including the Toyota Highlander.  

Maneuverable: You might not expect “agility” and “quick steering responses” to be used to describe a family-friendly midsize 3-row SUV. Yet that’s the case with the Mazda CX-90. The ride is on the firmer side for this vehicle segment, though we think the excellent body control is worth the tradeoff. 

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the CX-90 models for sale near you. 

2024 Toyota Highlander

2024 Toyota Highlander Limited in Cypress Green parked next to a concrete wall.

This generation of the Highlander dates to the 2020 model year, but since then, a number of notable updates have kept this SUV at the sharp end. This includes a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine introduced last year to replace a long-serving and dutiful V6. 

The change was worthwhile since the turbo engine provides strong acceleration and improved fuel economy. The 2024 Highlander is available in five trims, and pricing starts at $40,665. 

Toyota Highlander Highlights 

Fuel economy: The Highlander’s turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder produces 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. We’ve found this powertrain has plenty of grunt, along with an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined in city and highway driving. This is better than many competing SUVs — though it’s tied with the Mazda CX-90.

Dual 12.3-inch screens: Another recent improvement to the Highlander is a dual-screen layout found on upper trims. The touchscreen is easy to navigate while driving, the menus are clearly marked, and the icons are large. Keep in mind, if you want to keep the price lower, even the standard 8-inch screen comes with tech touches like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and a bevy of USB ports. 

Cupholders everywhere: We’re guessing Highlander drivers and all their passengers are pretty thirsty folks. This explains why there are 14 cup holders – yes, 14 of them – throughout the interior. This adds to the minivan-like practicality of the Highlander.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Highlander models for sale near you. 


The Mazda CX-90 and Toyota Highlander have strong-pulling turbocharged engines, sophisticated and smooth AWD systems, and come packed with a long roster of driver aids. 

They have near-identical economy figures, intuitive infotainment systems, and third rows best used by kids. Yep, the rear-most seats in the Mazda and Toyota are a snug fit for adults.  


Among our Best Midsize SUVs of 2024 rankings, the Toyota Highlander edges slightly ahead of the Mazda CX-90. What helps give it an advantage? 

To start, it has a sterling reputation for build quality, reliability, and resale value. It gets down the road without any fuss – maybe minus some of the extra drivetrain polish found in the CX-90 – and can be decked out with luxury touches. 

Sure, you can do the same in the Mazda CX-90, and it’s worth noting each feels more sophisticated than you might expect, given their mainstream badges. A test drive of both could make your SUV-buying decision a lot easier. 

  2024 Mazda CX-90 2024 Toyota Highlander
Starting Price  $39,220 $40,665
Popular Powertrains      
Engine  Turbocharged 3.3-liter mild-hybrid inline-6 Turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower  280 hp @ 5,000 rpm 265 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque  332 lb-ft  @ 2,000 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Transmission  8-speed automatic   8-speed automatic 
Fuel economy 24 city/28 highway/ 25 combined 22 city/29 highway/ 25 combined
Also Available  Turbocharged 3.3-liter mild-hybrid inline-6 (380 hp, Turbo S) AWD
Basic Warranty  3 years/36,000 miles  3 years/36,000 miles 
Powertrain Warranty  5 years/60,000 miles  5 years/60,000 miles 
NHTSA Overall Safety  NA   5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 
Wheelbase  122.8 inches  112.2 inches 
Overall Length  201.6 inches  194.9 inches 
Width  84.9 inches  76.0 inches 
Height  68.2 inches  68.1 inches 
Turning Diameter  38.1 feet  41.2 feet 
Headroom, Front  39.7 inches 41.2 inches 
Headroom, 2nd Row  39.3 inches  39.4 inches 
Headroom, 3rd Row 36.9 inches 36.1 inches
Legroom, Front  41.7 inches  42.0 inches 
Legroom, 2nd Row  39.4 inches  38.7 inches
Legroom, 3rd Row  30.4 inches  28.0 inches 
Shoulder Room, Front  57.2 inches  59.0 inches 
Shoulder Room, 2nd Row  58.1 inches 58.7 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd Row 53.3 inches 55.0 inches
Cargo Volume  14.9/40.0/74.2 cubic feet   16.0/48.4/84.3 cubic feet 

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