Yay, our long-term 2024 Mazda CX-90 doesn’t use piano black plastic

Mazda’s finally learning from its errant ways of using copious amounts of piano black plastic in high-contact interior zones. Our long-term 2024 CX-90 PHEV smartly makes little to no use of the shiny material, and it’s all the better for it.

I bring this up because it’s been a painful sticking point with Mazda interiors for a little while now. I can attest to it myself, as can Hurd, whose first new Mazda was purchased in 2006, back when the company first started to sprinkle piano black around its cabins. Sadly, it hasn’t gone anywhere. Take the center console of this 2023 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus (below) as an example.

I took this photo just a few days after the CX-50 showed up in my driveway for a week-long test (it was perfectly clean then), but in virtually no time it was already covered in dust and smudges, looking filthy. Piano black plastic shows every last bit of dirt that sits on it, requiring a near-daily wipe down with a microfiber to look clean. And when it is clean, it presents as a shiny, upscale material that looks lovely in new-car reveal photos. The ownership reality is much worse, as scratches accumulate quickly and easily, especially when it’s on a flat, often-touched surface like the gear surround.

Meanwhile, our long-term CX-90 kills the piano black gear surround design in favor of a sporty (and pretty) metal mesh pattern that neither attracts dust nor shows every hairline scratch. It’s infinitely more interesting to look at than glossy black plastic and is significantly more functional, too. You’ll see the same material used on the doors, where it works just as well. The only place you’ll find shiny black plastic used in the interior is on the steering wheel buttons. Of course, those tiny strips of plastic collect fingerprints, but it’s on a scale I can live with.

And in case you were worried it’s just our top Premium Plus trim of the CX-90 that eschews piano black, rest assured that other trims in the lineup skip it for various other solutions. Mazda’s able to do this, and its CX-90’s interior looks no less upscale or luxurious as a result. Plenty of other OEMs could learn from this.

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