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Luxurious, Sporty, but Awful Off-Road: 2025 Mazda CX-70 Review

The 2025 Mazda CX-70 is just a two-row CX-90 at first glance. At second glance, too. But look more closely and there are some compelling reasons to take this over the CX-90 if you don't need seating for seven.
2025 Mazda CX-70(Photo/Evan Williams)
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The 2025 Mazda CX-70 is a CX-90 with fewer seats and less on-paper cargo space. It’s also a lot more than that, and while it might be confusing for anyone who spends as much time reading about cars as I do, it might actually make more sense than simply selling a CX-90 with the option of two rows or three.

Mazda says that buyers of two-row and three-row big crossovers are two very different groups. They don’t just want an option; each group wants its own vehicle to suit its own needs — even if those needs aren’t all that different.

Like Ben and Jerry’s, Mazda is happy to offer as many flavors as its customers want. It brought me to Desert Hot Springs, one of the many sprawling suburbs of Palm Springs, to try and provide some insight into who it thinks the CX-70’s customer is, and what makes them different.

That included driving range lessons (and a mean blister) at Indian Wells Golf Resort, listening to random musical instruments in something surprisingly relaxing called a sound bath, and, more importantly, a full day of hustling various CX-70s around some of the best driving roads (and a few of the most boring) in California.

In short: The 2025 Mazda CX-70 takes the fancy cabin, excellent powertrains, and fun to drive from the CX-90 and replaces the third row of seats with a flatter and more practical cargo floor.

2025 Mazda CX-70


  • Engine 3.3L I6 Turbo/2.5L I4
  • Horsepower Turbo 280 hp/Turbo S 340/PHEV 323
  • Torque 332 lb-ft/369 lb-ft/369 lb-ft
  • Mileage Turbo 24/28/25 Turbo S 23/28/25 mpg city, highway, combined PHEV 25 mpg cmbd
  • Cargo 39.6 cu. ft with seats up, 75.3 folded
  • Towing 3,500 lbs (PHEV/Preferred) 5,000 lbs (Premium/Premium Plus)


  • Exquisite cabin
  • Excellent engines
  • High fun-to-drive factor
  • PHEV availability


  • Cargo space lags competitors
  • Sluggish gearbox
  • Towing features require factory hitch
  • Stiff on dirt roads

2025 Mazda CX-70 Review

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Big crossovers with two rows of seats are for buyers who have lots of things to haul. Tents and camp stoves, lifejackets oars and kayaks, mountain bikes and spares, even just a big haul from the garden center.

Needing a lot of cargo space doesn’t mean you also need seating for seven. For empty nesters or for customers who never wanted to add to their nests in the first place, automakers know that there is big demand.

Some car companies build brand-new solutions for these shoppers. Honda turned the Pilot into the Passport, Volkswagen created the Atlas Cross Sport, and Ford thought it would get the edge with an Edge instead of an Explorer. Chevrolet took a different tack and introduced the more street-oriented Blazer to go alongside the Traverse.

All of those have one thing in common: They are significantly shorter than the three-row models with which they share space on the showroom floor, and that means they offer a whole lot less space for your stuff.

More Cargo Space … Maybe?

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

On paper, the CX-70 offers less cargo room than its three-row sibling as well. But in the real world, Mazda insists that things aren’t as they appear.

The CX-90 has a lumpy and bumpy load floor. It has to, in order to fit the extra seats. This makes the official measurements look better because the total volume includes things like the dips where the headrests sit when the third row is folded. Areas that aren’t really usable space when it comes time to load.

Because the CX-70 doesn’t have a third row, Mazda can make the entire load floor flat. From the tailgate trim to the back of the third row, the CX-70’s hardware doesn’t get in the way. Fold the seats flat, and you get a virtually flat cargo floor all the way to the driver’s seat.

Want to sleep back there? All you need is a blanket. Want to carry some long boxes from Ikea? No problem, they just slide all the way forward.

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Have a little bit more than can fit in the main box? That’s easy too, because if you lift up the hard floor cover in the CX-70, you’ll find a mini trunk that starts about halfway through the cargo area and juts up to the back of the second row. Perfect for just a bit more space, it’s also the place to hold things like pillows or even valuables that you won’t need to access when the rest of the cargo space is full.

Because Mazda uses almost all of the same interior panels on both the CX-70 and CX-90, the two-row has some comical carry-over. Like cup holders for third-row passengers that don’t exist. I’m sure the company’s marketing team would tell me they’re for tailgating, but we all know the truth.

One that’s more useful is the remote release to fold the second-row seats. Being able to fold them from the very back isn’t unique to the CX-70, but it’s still not a common feature in the class. It’s quite handy come loading time.

CX-70 Adds Trailer Hitch Camera View

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Mazda has made one more big change for the CX-70 compared with the CX-90, though this one is likely to filter out to its sibling sooner rather than later. It’s a new trailer hitch view that is class-exclusive.

It’s only enabled with the Mazda accessory hitch — officially, at least — and it lets you see directly down behind the vehicle. Normally a pickup truck feature, it should make it easier to use the 3,500-pound tow capacity of the PHEV and up to 5,000 pounds of the I6 gas-powered version.

The tow package upgrade adds a trailering drive mode along with the trailer camera. It’s only enabled when the system detects you’re hooked up — Mazda couldn’t confirm whether this would work with four-pin trailers or just seven-pin hookup models.

The Towing mode adjusts throttle and transmission responses. It also adjusts the i-Activ AWD system’s adjustable center differential to send more power to the front tires and to help reduce trailer sway.

While we weren’t able to tow on this drive event, Mazda’s product people insisted that it handles California’s notorious I-5 Grapevine climb (and descent) just fine while above its official max capacity.

CX-70 Gets Smooth 3.3L Six

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Under the hood of the CX-70 are the same engines and transmissions as the CX-90. The standard engine is a 3.3L inline six that makes 280 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Opting for Turbo S on Premium and Premium Plus trims means 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet thanks to more boost, but power drops to 319 horses if you use 87 octane instead of 93.

The straight six is a smooth engine design by its nature. Lots of explosions, all pushing up and down on the same line, are less violent than the side-to-side of a V6. There’s a reason why BMW and Mercedes-Benz use the layout, and as I climb the Palms to Pines highway south of Palm Springs, it’s obvious why. The engine is smooth to rev, and it makes pleasant sounds all the way to the redline time after time as I fire the CX-70 from hairpin turn to hairpin turn.

But even before the long climb out of the Coachella Valley, Mazda’s 340 horsepower estimate seems optimistic. You won’t mind winding out this engine, but also you might need to more often than you want to if you need maximum acceleration.

In other crossovers, I might not call that an issue. Mazda leans hard into making driving enjoyment a priority and by that standard, feeling sluggish is a mark against it.

PHEV Engine Rougher, but Might Be a Better Choice

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Mazda’s other option is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that links a 2.5L four-cylinder with a beefy electric motor. The motor alone outputs 173 horsepower for its 26-mile electric range, and when combined with the gas engine, the total is 323 horses and 369 pound-feet.

Yes, the PHEV’s power is on par with the high-output turbo — at least when you need it. The four-cylinder engine isn’t as refined as the six, but since it’s not running all that often, it’s not much of a problem.

The PHEV system is more responsive than the gas-only model, and I think that saved my butt — or at least the Mazda’s — at a Palm Desert intersection: I stopped for a light, and the slammed Altima behind me didn’t. When I heard squealing tires, I mashed the gas and saw in my rearview just how much more distance that Nissan’s inattentive driver would have needed to stop.

With the six-cylinder taking what felt like ages, probably around 5 seconds, for full-throttle kick-downs on the highway, I’m not sure the unscathed result would have been the same.

CX-70 Refines CX-90’s Firm Steering

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

In the year or two since the CX-90 launched, Mazda has taken some feedback and used it to make some upgrades to the CX-70. The company wouldn’t detail the changes, but one of them was clearly the steering.

The CX-90’s steering is heavy. Two hands at all times, especially for parking. The 70’s steering is just a touch lighter, thanks to some extra assistance. It’s still on the firm side, but that’s part of the crossover’s feel and appeal. It’s just not a workout anymore.

Mazda’s steering changes make the CX-70 a more enjoyable drive. The CX-90 was already fun to hustle down a back road, but the CX-70 makes it a bit easier to toss around, and easier is better in a big crossover like this.

Off-Road Mode, but CX-70 Not at Home Off Pavement

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

Winding up and down mountain highways is all fine and dandy, but what about off the pavement? This is, after all, a crossover that Mazda is pitching at owners who want big space for doing big things in the big outdoors.

The CX-70 has an off-road drive mode that adjusts its AWD system and softens throttle response. You know, the typical pavement-focused crossover things.

A firm suspension means that the CX-70 is a rough rider off-road, but it’s not much rougher than its peers. Like the rest of those, it will get you there, but you might need to go a little slower to help stop your passenger from getting bounced around too much. If you’re planning on anything more than rutted terrain or small rocks, then a Jeep Grand Cherokee might be a better place to look.

The tires are more likely to stop your off-road adventure than the ride. Typical big crossover on-pavement tires can be fragile, and Mazda doesn’t offer an all-terrain tire like the Honda Passport Trailsport. Then again, all-terrain tires are just a call to the tire store away.

Mazda CX-70 Has Luxury-Grade Interior

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

I’m comparing the CX-70 to the Passport, Atlas Cross Sport, and the rest because they’re all very big two-row crossovers. Mazda, though, wants to compare it to models like the Lexus NX and BMW X3. It even had some on display at the drive event.

On size alone they’re not competitors at all, but Mazda is being cheeky. It wants you to think about its interiors up against those luxury brands, and frankly, it’s hard to blame it.

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The CX-70 is filled with upscale finishes and lovely material choices, with none of the popular but instantly damaged piano black trim to be found. The cabin, in all of the trim grades Mazda had on hand and not just the Premium Plus, was easily up to the levels of those luxury crossovers — for less cash and with more space.

2025 CX-70 From $40,445

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

The CX-70 starts at $40,445 for the 3.3 Turbo Preferred trim. It comes with 19-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, LED lighting, a power hatch, heated front seats, wireless phone charging, a power driver’s seat, and more. It’s a lot of equipment out of the box.

Premium, for $45,900, adds bigger wheels, a fully digital dash, Bose audio, and a few other goodies. Premium Plus, for $48,900, comes with Nappa leather, heated and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The Turbo S model starts at $55,950.

PHEV models are offered in Premium trim for $54,400 and Premium Plus for $57,450.

2025 Mazda CX-70 Review: Conclusions

2025 Mazda CX-70
(Photo/Evan Williams)

A two-row crossover that is bigger than its competitors, better to drive, and offers a more luxurious cabin. It sounds like an easy win for Mazda, except for one big detail.

The Honda Passport is nearly a foot shorter than the Pilot and about the same amount shorter than the CX-70. It offers slightly more cargo capacity.

The Volkswagen Atlas? About half a foot shorter this time, but still a tiny bit more cargo space.

Mazda has made the cargo space useful, especially that 97.5-inch flat load floor, but it might not be big enough.

It makes sense that Mazda gave the CX-70 its own identity versus the CX-90. It’s well-aimed at a very different owner than the three-row CX-90. This is a big crossover that offers a spacious interior and cargo bay, has a wonderful interior, and is more enjoyable to drive than anything else that approaches its size that doesn’t come from Germany and have a 7 in its name.

Now, it needs to find buyers who want to get dirty but value high fashion over the rugged design and plastic cladding of its competitors.

2024 Mazda CX-90

2024 Mazda CX-90 Review: Hybrid, AWD, and a Blast to Drive

We drove the 2024 Mazda CX-90 and came away impressed by the driving feel and economy but scoffing at the lack of cargo space and the hefty price. Read more…

Evan Williams

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