When anyone talks about Mazda, their slogan will always come up. Granted they really put their zoom-zoom focus in the Miata but the CX-9 is no slouch. This 7 seater comes with a lot of great tech, features and it’s sure to check some great marks with its buyers.
Starting with the way it looks, the CX-9 is brand new for 2016 and it follows the company’s KODO design language. Basically, it translates to Soul of Motion, with graceful yet energetic lines. The design is very obvious here, the hood is stretched forward on its flat nose with high centre line and a low roofline the CX-9 is not a regular two-box SUV. Angular headlights up front wrap the cooperate grill which on the signature edition like we have here is lit around the edge. A lower fascia with a sparkle of chrome makes the front end angry and very different than the previous generations. Out back the taillights have a Miata-esque look about them, wrapping the brake light around the turn signals transitioning to a chrome bar that stretches across the rear tailgate dividing the window and its big booty rounds out the entire package. As far as SUV goes this is as attractive as it gets and it really stands out in this crowded segment.
The design language flows to the inside of the CX-9 as well. The dash wraps around the occupants with its beautiful Napa leather, while using chrome and aluminum to contrast the darker plastics. Up in the middle sits Mazda’s infotainment system a 8″ touch screen unit that can also be controlled via a knob located by the shifter, most people would use the knob rather than the touch option as it is a bit further to reach. The screen is nice and is of a high resolution but the system is a bit dated as it can not pair with Apple’s CarPlay or Androids Auto system. The knob is a 7-way controller surrounded by some quick buttons to navigate the menus a little faster. And just to keep everyone happy, just off to the right side sits a volume knob making volume adjustments a breeze. The rest of the interior is a blend of wood, aluminum, and leather. Sitting inside it makes you feel somewhat special and it compares nicely with high-end offerings from Acura and Infiniti. And to add to the high-end experience the interior is superbly quiet, a little hum is audible from the engine during acceleration but that’s it. Mazda has put a lot of attention to make this generation a lot more upscale than previous.
Sitting beneath the long hood is Mazda’s new Skyactive engine. A 2.5 Litre unit with a Dynamic Pressure Turbo brings 227hp (250 with premium) and 310lb-ft of torque to this little 4 cylinder. As we know horsepower is important but moving a 4300lb vehicle and be able to tow 3500lb, torque is just as important. And this little 4 cylinder delivers all that down low at around 2000rpm. Making this driving experience astonishing, power delivery and acceleration is surprising out of a vehicle this size. Dip into the throttle the Turbo spools up and you’re gone, it’ll beat the other parents in the Highlander and Pathfinder but watch out for the Dad that’s rocking the Pilot, it’s able to get to 100km/h a second faster.
Mazda prides themselves on driving involvement, the CX-9 is no exception. While no SUV buyers are cross shopping with sports cars, this CX-9 is nimble. With a nicely weighted steering and a dynamic chassis, it’s a real joy to drive. Aided by the sports mode the engine can keep itself within the powerband and rocket out of corners. Just don’t get too excited limits of physics still apply to this heavy, front biased car. Driving the CX-9 is pleasurable, it’s no longer a chore to go pick up the kids or get groceries, it’s flat-out fun.
Speaking of kids, we got a body double to simulate how much space there is in the 2nd and 3rd row. Mazda claims it’s bigger than the highlander and that certainly is true. The 2nd roll is mounted on sliders which can aid 3rd-row access as well as legroom. Like all 3-row SUV, the last row is designed for kids or those whose just a bit shorter. If you were 6 feet tall for example, your head would be on the ceiling of the sloping roof line and your knees would be higher than you would like for a long trip. As for the 2nd row even with the driver’s seat set for someone 6 feet tall the knee and leg room is sufficient thanks to the recessed seat back. Although it’ll never be as comfortable as a minivan the CX-9 is comfortable enough.
As for the not so good there isn’t much, spoiled by other manufacturers, we can see the CX-9 lacks some equipment like a panoramic sunroof and cooled seats. But it does have adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. These active safety features keep the occupants safe and sound by braking when needed and able to push the vehicle back into its lane. During the test, we did notice the heated steering wheel although it’s effective it only heats up the 3 and 9 o’clock positions so during turns it might be a bit cold.
Overall the CX-9 is an amazing vehicle choice for those that seek 7 passenger utility while having great fun to drive characteristics. Best of all there’s no engine options so even the base model will get you the remarkable engine and fluid torque. And you’ll be able to keep driving on and on as Mazda’s warranty is unlimited mileage and only based on duration. So enjoy that new vehicle take it on road trips, Mazda’s got you covered.
A headsup display that shows current speed and navigational direction