June 25, 2024

2024 Mazda CX-90 Long-Term Review: Our Model Features a Touchscreen, Yours May not

Mazda operates in its own unique way, even when the majority of the automotive industry has opted for a different approach. Take our long-term CX-90 PHEV’s infotainment system, for instance. It does not function as a touchscreen in most instances, but there are exceptions. This highlights Mazda’s complex relationship with touchscreens. Let me elaborate.

Simply stated, the screen of our CX-90 only allows touch inputs when utilizing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (which can be disabled for driving, for reasons unknown). It is important to note that only the Premium Plus trims and Turbo S trims have this feature, and we have a PHEV Premium Plus. If you have a different trim, the display does not support touchscreen functionality. This feature is specific to the touch-capable 12.3-inch screens, while the touch-less screens measure 10.25 inches.

Having touch control while using Apple CarPlay is a major advantage and a key reason to consider upgrading to a higher trim level. However, it seems restrictive for Mazda to reserve touch controls for upper trim levels. Touch controls are not a luxury feature and should be available across all trims. Interestingly, the cheaper Mazda CX-50, CX-5, and Miata models come standard with touch control, even though they do not offer the CX-90’s larger screen. The CX-5 and CX-50 even have a 10.25-inch screen, similar to the lower CX-90 models.

If your CX-90 does not have touch controls, there are still options available. Mazda has programmed the menu shortcut buttons around the rotary control knob to handle CarPlay and Android Auto functions, similar to native systems. This method can be quicker and more efficient than using the touchscreen. For example, you can easily access your default music player by pressing the “Media” button next to the rotary knob. The same applies to quickly switching to your navigation app or phone app. There is even a “back” button conveniently placed for navigating through different menus. Additionally, a quick tap of the “home” button brings you to the CarPlay/Android Auto app selection screen. Importantly, a long press will take you back to Mazda’s native infotainment interface, making essential controls easily accessible. Volume and seek control can also be managed through the volume knob next to the rotary control knob.

Using the rotary knob and hotkey buttons while driving is much quicker and safer than trying to interact with the screen. I find myself using the rotary knob and buttons more often than the touchscreen due to its efficiency in certain tasks. However, menu navigation or adjusting settings in apps like Waze are better suited for touch control. In such cases, using the rotary knob can be cumbersome, prompting me to utilize the touch controls.

Would it be more convenient if Mazda included touchscreens as standard in all CX-90 models? Certainly. Some tasks are better suited for touchscreens, while others work well with a rotary knob. Offering both options, like the new i5 and many older BMW models, provides flexibility and caters to personal preferences. I appreciate user interfaces designed for rotary knob control, and Mazda’s implementation of such a system is commendable. It would be ideal for touch control to be integrated into every CX-90 model in the future.


  • Which Mazda CX-90 trims have touchscreen functionality?
  • How can touch control be utilized in the CX-90 without touchscreen?
  • Are touchscreens standard in all Mazda models?


While Mazda’s approach to touchscreen functionality in the CX-90 may be unconventional, the use of a rotary knob and hotkey buttons provides an efficient and safe alternative. Incorporating touch controls across all trims would enhance user experience and accessibility. The combination of touch and non-touch controls offers versatility and caters to individual preferences. Overall, the CX-90’s infotainment system reflects Mazda’s commitment to innovative and user-friendly technology.

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