Picture this scenario, you’re a bit older now with kids and you cant help the fact that you miss your little Miata Sports car you once had. And all you want is a car that is just a bit more engaging than the average SUV. Meet the CX-9, the vehicle you want if you’re the type that has the haul people but still enjoy driving.
The CX-9 isn’t all new for 2018 but there are a few improvements to make it competitive in the segment. From the outside, the Kodo design language is still strong as ever, with bold lines and creases all over the body to transfer an ordinary two layer brick to something that’s quite beautiful.
Best yet, Mazda did not forget about the inside at all. This tester is the GT trim, 3rd up in the 4 trim lineups. It already has beautiful leather and soft-touch plastics thru-out. Stepping up to the Signature would grant upgraded Nappa leather, however looking at this GT trim it hard to say if that’s needed.
Like many automakers these days, Mazda uses an 8″ touchscreen system that’s mounted squarely in the middle of the dash for easy viewing. Controls are on the centre console via a rotary knob. There are no dedicated station buttons like some vehicles out there but it’s easy to use the steering wheel mounted controls to flip thru stations. One thing that is disappointing after a few years since the launch of this Mazda infotainment system it still lacks Apple Carplay and Android Auto support.
For the driver, the gauges are beautifully laid out and easily legible. There’s also a projected head’s up display that’s able to show speed, navigation information as well as driver assistance programs.
Second-row passengers are also treated to similar heated leather seating surfaces. Although being in the second row they’re not as bolstered as the front but they’re still plenty comfortable. Standard on the GT trim and up are a pair of roll-up curtains that are able to cut down glare from the sun. A nice touch for the kids.
Something missing in the back is panoramic sunroof that’s found in some of its competitors and also the lack of rear seat entertainment system.
Pop the rear power liftgate with the fob or the button on the dash or on the trunk lid itself reveals the cargo hold.
Behind the 3rd row, space is limited. But there is a small hidden compartment under the load floor that’s accessible by a latch located in the centre. Space with the 3rd row folded is sufficient and with the 2nd row folded as well, cargo capacity is more than plentiful. However, it must be said the floor is elevated towards the front.
Behind the wheel of the CX-9 is something to behold. Unlike most SUVs out there that’s pretty boring to drive the CX-9 is tossable. No, it’s not a sports car by any means, but it is fun. In 2018 Mazda engineers also added what they call G-Vectoring control. Essentially it subtly adjusts the engine’s torque output to optimize weight transfer. This is some next level stuff that only Mazda engineers would think of.
The gutsy 2.5L Skyactive turbo 4 puts down 227hp with regular gas and 250hp with premium but no matter which octane it sips, it’s still pouring out 310 lb-ft of torque. Best yet all that twist is available at 2000rpm. Which mean stop light launches has never been more fun. But other than more than adequate torque this motor allows the CX-9 to achieve some remarkable fuel economy. During the week it was easy to get 12L/100km in city driving and around 9L/100km on the highway.
Overall the CX-9 isn’t the best SUV out there. It wasn’t made to be the all a rounder, that’s the Honda Pilot. The Mazda is aimed at someone that cares about the drive as much as the car itself. For the driver that actually enjoys driving, even tho there might be a few kids in the vehicle. Price, as tested, is $49,120 isn’t cheap, most of its rivals are similarly priced. But in the current marketplace, there is no Mid-size SUV that has a better driving dynamics and as beautiful of an interior as this.