2024 Mazda CX-90 Long-Term Update: The charged becomes the charger

After a conspicuously mild and uneventful winter, I was caught unawares last week when our utility company decided to bring our entire substation offline for emergency maintenance ... at 8 p.m. on a Friday. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful and I had no plans that required electricity. Not so fortunately, my phone was quite low on juice — circling the proverbial drain on a single-digit battery percentage, in fact. And while I could hear some of my neighbors' generators coming online, I opted for something a little closer to home.

Our long term 2024 Mazda CX-90 PHEV was parked out back on the now-cured foundation for my new garage, fresh off an early-morning charge (so as to avoid my utility's peak rates). Using a plug-in hybrid car as a phone charger may seem like a shortcut to mammoth-sized carbon hoofprint, but 1) this is sort-of an emergency and 2) this is really no different than a vehicle-to-grid setup, right? So what if "the grid" consists of nothing more than USB-C cable and my thirsty Samsung.

With the car "running" and some doors open to let the music flow out over my hastily assembled lounge, I had myself quite the pleasant evening tailgate setup in search of a suitable event. Thanks to the 70-degree weather, the climate control could remain dormant, virtually guaranteeing I could milk the Mazda for plenty of cell phone juice without the gasoline motor kicking in. In fact, if the Mazda were nothing but a battery pack and some USB ports, it should be able to fully charge my phone more than 700 times. Factoring in inefficiencies and the electricity required just to idle the car itself, I suspect the real-world number would be far fewer than that, but certainly still in the hundreds. It takes a lot of energy to move a car.


The biggest strike against PHEVs is that they're nothing special if they're not plugged in. Having a level 2 charging setup at home certainly makes doing so a no-brainer. The Mazda will charge from 0 to full in under 2½ hours on a 40-amp home setup, so you could theoretically get all 26 miles of range even between relatively frequent errands. If your trips are short (or you can charge on both ends), you could easily go about a fairly robust routine without ever using the gas engine. It wouldn't be particularly fun, however. The PHEV weighs nearly 5,000 pounds (not that much more than the standard I6), so the electric motor alone won't win you any races.

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