I Drove the 2022 Mazda CX-60 Plug-In Hybrid, Here's Why This SUV Is Cool

2022 Mazda CX-60 PHEV 8 photos
Photo: Florin Amariei/autoevolution
2022 Mazda CX-60 Takumi2022 Mazda CX-60 Takumi2022 Mazda CX-60 Takumi2022 Mazda CX-60 Takumi2022 Mazda CX-60 Takumi2022 Mazda CX-60 HUD2022 Mazda CX-60 Homura
Mazda put me on a plane and sent me to Leverkusen, Germany because that’s where their European headquarters are. But this wasn’t an office visit. There’s nothing secret or exciting going on behind those closed doors. Development of the cool stuff is happening in Frankfurt. I got there to test out the all-new CX-60 PHEV.
Mazda’s newest SUV is finally ready to hit the streets and reach its first customers. Here’s what I found out about it and why it matters a lot to the Japanese automaker that this vehicle succeeds.

The 2022 Mazda CX-60 e-Skyactiv PHEV is now out and about, and I got to see what it can do. My time with it was shortened by a busy schedule, but things went pretty well overall and there’s useful stuff I have to share. If you’re a prospective buyer, then stick around. There are some things you should know!

The CX-60 is a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that wants to offer you a dynamic experience. That’s why its setup is rear-wheel-drive biased. The vehicle makes use of a 100kW electric motor to push you around in EV mode, but also has a gas engine under the hood to not give you any range anxiety. Charge it up or fill its tank, and you’re always good to go. That’s the beauty of a PHEV, even if there are people out there who claim this is not the best of both EV and ICE worlds, but the worst. I tend to have a positive mindset, so I side with those who like PHEVs. They provide a duality not many cars can replicate.

I’d want to compare the CX-60 to something like the BMW X5 xDrive45e or the Mercedes-Benz GLE 350e (not available in the U.S.), but it wouldn’t be fair. I’d add the Audi Q8 55 TFSI e here, but that’s more of a coupe-ish SUV.

2022 Mazda CX\-60 Takumi
Photo: Florin Amariei/autoevolution
It’s not because Bimmer and Merc are known for having great, cool, powerful, and innovative plug-in hybrid vehicles. After all, Mazda’s pushing in the same direction (and it might even succeed with the CX-80 in Europe and CX-90 in the U.S.!). I blame the specs (and the German’s PHEV-making experience). Although it looks big and feels like a large, spacious SUV, the CX-60 PHEV is just 37 mm longer (1.4 in) than an X3 30e. Moreover, it’s even 1 mm (0.03 in) narrower than the BMW.

But here’s what the Japanese-made CX-60 hides under its hood, underbody, and trunk. Then you’ll decide if it should be put to the test against the X5 xDrive45e or the GLE 350e.

What are the Japanese doing in Germany? Write it down!

The recipe starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine capable of 188 HP (191 PS) and 193 lb-ft (261 Nm) of torque. Then an electric motor that feeds itself from a 17.8-kWh battery and puts out 172 HP (175 PS) and 199 lb-ft (270 Nm) of torque is added. When working together, the engine and the motor make a combined maximum output of 322 HP (327 PS) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque. All this turns the CX-60 PHEV into the most powerful production vehicle Mazda ever made. It can reach 62 mph (100 kph) in 5.8 seconds and keeps going until it hits the limiter at 124 mph (200 kph).

The SUV measures 4,745 mm (186.8 in) in length, 1,890 mm (74,4 in) in width, 1,685 mm (66,3 in) in height, has a ground clearance of 175 mm (6.8 in, when equipped with 20” tires), and has a wheelbase of 2,870 mm (112.9 in).

The most important thing that it can provide, besides plenty of power from both the engine and the motor, is the 39 mi (63 km) of pure EV driving. The value can vary because it depends on many factors such as the outside temperature and the driver’s behavior, but after I drove it for approximately 62 miles (100 kilometers) the computer told me that 36 mi (58 kilometers) were done with zero emissions.

This might help you to keep daily commuting entirely electric if you choose to charge at home or the office. It’s also important to remember that you should charge your PHEV. Using the engine to replenish the battery is incredibly inefficient and it will only increase gas consumption. It’s a good option to have for access in emission-restricted zones, but don’t use it often. Let it be a backup.

2022 Mazda CX\-60 Takumi
Photo: Florin Amariei/autoevolution
Besides looking good and impressive thanks to an updated and bold design, the CX-60 is also comfortable. The seats are supportive and the plethora of features available is enough to make anyone happy. There are ventilated seats, a huge panoramic sunroof, a nice Bose sound system, and high-quality screens together with physical buttons. Yes, Mazda got it right. The HVAC controls are easily accessible and there are no touch buttons on the steering wheel either. Everything needs your input, and I got this feeling that it’s going to be easy to get accustomed to everything the driver might want to touch – except the central 12.3-inch screen.

The infotainment display is a touchscreen, but it doesn’t behave like one. You can only tap on it when wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is enabled. In every other scenario, the wheel next to the gear shifter is what the driver or the passenger will use. The software is simple to use, and intuitive, and it worked without any delay for me.

Let’s go for a drive!

Now, I’ve told you that I’m somewhat of a PHEV fan. But leaving my tastes aside, the CX-60 PHEV drives really well. It responds fast to the driver’s inputs, the acceleration pedal has enough weight to it, the braking power feels like it’s almost perfectly balanced, and the suspension keeps the car in check. It doesn’t let the vehicle feel wobbly.

What’s even better is that I never ever sat so well in a car this size. And the strange thing is that I felt like I was sitting centered like my head was right between my feet that were resting on the driver’s door and the gear tunnel. And remember – this is almost as big as an X3! There’s enough room for five people like me. Admittedly, I did fit in an MX-5, so make sure you’re not bigger than me.

While the SUV can move quickly on demand, a thing that wasn’t quite to my taste was the behavior of the gearbox when driving in EV mode. When it changed from second to third, the car felt like it gave me (and my passengers) a slight push forward. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case when Normal or Sport was enabled – the shifting was smooth or unnoticeably quick.

Similarly, the electric motor noise can become disturbing on longer journeys if you’re not listening to anything. It has a very high-pitched whine that it’s easily noticeable.

2022 Mazda CX\-60 HUD
Photo: Florin Amariei/autoevolution
There’s a thing that divides people. I talked with other journalists there and some of them said they found the steering to be a tad bit heavy. I didn’t mind this. I can even say I liked having a bit of an accentuated feel when taking a corner. To me, it felt like the car wants to keep me involved in the driving process while not demanding greater input. It felt sporty but without compromising on comfort.

Overall, I liked driving the CX-60 PHEV. I’ve no major complaints. It felt like a good car, a spacious Japanese-made SUV that might need some small adjustments to make it even better. The visibility was good, the screens were bright enough, the built-in navigation worked fine, and the head-up display was useful even though there’s no augmented reality implemented yet. I especially liked the blend of materials available on the Takumi trim version. It's almost exquisite to touch cold metal, quality leather, and soft fabrics in a Mazda.

A solid effort

If you’re based in the UK, the Mazda CX-60 PHEV starts from £48,050 ($55.353/€55.543) in the top Takumi trim. There are some options like a different body color, some exterior accessories, the £1,000 panoramic sunroof, or the £1,100 driver assistance pack that you can add, but that’s kind of it. Another expensive add-on would be the £1,131 semi-electric tow bar (or tow hitch if you’re American) that enables the SUV to pull a maximum of 5,511 lb (2,500 kg) when the trailer is equipped with brakes. Otherwise, the weight limit is set at 1,653 lb (750 kg).

This puts the CX-60 PHEV in a very sweet spot, considering the aforementioned, bigger, and more luxurious BMW and Mercedes-Benz SUVs start from £73,425 ($84,572/€84,849) and £72,470 ($83,443/€83,724) according to their current online configurator prices. The X3 xDrive30e that's also a PHEV has a starting price of £53,730($62,332/€61,387) and it can easily go beyond that with some simple upgrades. Furthermore, these prices tell us that the Mazda CX-60 in the Takumi top trim is cheaper than the base X3 plug-in hybrid by a couple of thousand.

Unfortunately, the CX-60 isn’t coming to the U.S. Even though it would be a pretty good fit, the automaker’s strategy is a smart one and Americans don’t have a reason to be sad about it. Mazda will give Europe and its home country the CX-60 and CX-80 as two-row and three-row SUVs respectively, while North America will get the CX-70 and CX-90. Japan and most of Europe are more crowded, the streets are narrower, and parking spaces aren’t that generous, while U.S. and Canada, for example, have enough room to accommodate bigger SUVs. Plus, in America, people tend to like their SUVs a little bit larger. Both the CX-70 and CX-90 will satisfy those needs.

All in all, the CX-60 PHEV is a great step ahead. It’s not perfect, but what car is? I, for one, can’t wait to test drive it for a longer period and see how it behaves as a family-hauler daily driver. Plus, there is a 3.3-liter diesel-powered mild hybrid CX-60 incoming which Mazda thinks will match the upcoming harsher Euro 7 pollution standards! Can’t wait to see how that’s going to fit in Europe and which will be the most popular version with companies.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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