The Mazda CX-9 is a reasonably sized three-row SUV that fits in the “just right” size category. It’s comfortable on the inside without being too daunting to park. Mazda will soon release its new hybrid SUV, the CX-90, but for those looking for a tried-and-true gasoline engine package, the CX-9 oozes refinement. Now that the vehicle has been in production for a while, the kinks have been worked out and you can feel the quality. If you’re looking for a three-row SUV you’ll want to hang onto for the next decade, Mazda’s CX-9 might be the perfect choice.
CX-9 vs. CX-90
The CX-90 will offer three different powertrains, but the most progressive will be the plug-in hybrid model. The CX-9 uses a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine coupled to a six-speed automatic. It features 250 horsepower and a robust 320 lb-ft of torque. The impressive tuning of the package makes the Mazda unusually smooth – and that’s a good thing! The powertrain remains whisper-quiet even when entering the freeway. Mazda has had a long time to perfect this powertrain package and it shows.
Keep It Safe
Mazda has kept up with safety technology. We really like the legible heads-up display that illuminates information in a cool white palette. It always lets you know the speed limit if the powertrain smoothness belies your speed! Some Mazdas of yesteryear used a motorized glass reflective panel to project the heads-up display information. The CX-9 now uses the more traditional and better-performing windshield display.
To help keep the driver and passengers safe, the CX-9 is well-equipped with an array of standard i-Activsense driver assist safety features, including Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Smart Brake Support with collision warning, Advanced Smart City Brake Support with pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist.
The interior of the CX-9 looks as though it belongs to a vehicle at a higher price point. This is especially true in the CX-9 Signature. The CX-9 Signature expands on the features in the heavily optioned Grand Touring (the version that most consumers take) and elevates the experience with offerings exclusive to the Signature model. Heated second-row captain’s chairs provide a first-class feel. The second-row center console, with its armrest storage compartment, mimics that of the first row in a classy way.
The CX-9 Signature interior includes first- and second-row seats with Nappa leather, available in either Deep Chestnut or Parchment color. The first- and second-row seats have a unique quilting and piping that add to the elegance of the CX-9 Signature. Other styling details include Santos Rosewood interior trim, patterned aluminum on the dash and door handle bezels, and unique stitching on the steering wheel.
Exterior upgrades include a hands-free power liftgate, 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels with a brilliant silver finish, a titanium gray metallic finished front grille with LED lighting accent, and larger dual exhaust pipes.
The infotainment system is the only item that remains a little dated. Although it is a hybrid touchscreen with a knob on the center console, finding items in the menu system can be cumbersome. For example, there’s no tuning knob for the radio. However, there is a Favorites section where you can save your presets, so you can scroll through those quickly. Once you have everything set, navigating the audio presets is easy. The included Bose system is pretty good. It just lacks dynamics and could use a little more oomph. It still isn’t as authoritative as an aftermarket high-end system, but that can be easily remedied by your local specialty mobile enhancement retailer.
Old School vs. New School
We all want the latest and the greatest. But sometimes an outgoing model makes a strong case for itself, and this is one of those times. You’d be hard-pressed to argue with the whipped-cream smoothness of the well-engineered powertrain. At a price of $48K fully loaded (with a starting price $10K less), the Mazda CX-9 is the forgotten three-row SUV that shouldn’t be. Get it while you still can; it will be very interesting to compare it to the CX-90 when that arrives in dealerships soon. I would probably opt for a fully loaded CX-9 leftover versus a more basic CX-90.