Mazda’s CX-9 is the carmaker’s top-tier, 3-row AWD midsize crossover that competes in a highly competitive class. Despite the competition, CX-9 excels in several categories, including government safety ratings.
CX-9 is offered in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Carbon Edition and top-shelf Signature that we were privileged to test.
CX-9’s exterior design features smooth, rounded lines for a pleasing aerodynamic look with splashes of chrome-like trim.
As for the interior, it too is exceptionally upscale with perforated Nappa leather seats with tufted side panels, rosewood trim, LED accent lighting and a large 10.25-inch display perched unobtrusively on the dash. The display offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, satellite radio, Travel Link with weather radar/forecasts, navigation, Bluetooth, rearview camera with frontal and wide-angle views along with Mazda Connect 4G LTE Wi-Fi infotainment system.
The semi-vertical stack features easy to view and use HVAC controls with selections displayable on the screen. Then there’s the hefty shifter for the 6-speed automatic transmission that’s flanked by operating controls including a Sport/Normal driving mode switch and a rotary dial for display selections. Add a wireless phone charger and sunroof as standard on the Signature model and you have an all-encompassing cockpit in this family friendly hauler.
Over on the gauge cluster, it offers a digital speedometer with embedded driver information display for operational alerts, features and functions.
Seating wise, CX-9 can be configured to seat seven with a split bench second row seat, or six with comfy heated captain’s chairs complete with a huge center console that was in the Signature. The third row, however, is mainly for youngsters as leg room is short and ingress/egress is tight as the second row slides fore/aft 17 inches. Step-in front and rear is a low 19-inches.
Back in the cargo area, that has a 30.5-inch lift-over, and with the third row upright, there’s 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 21 inches deep, 43 wide and 29 high. Enough for a few grocery bags. Flip the third row and capacity increases to 38.2 cubic feet for 53.5 inches of depth. Fold the second row as well and capacity goes to 71.2 cubic feet for 82 inches of storage depth. There’s also a 5-inch deep bin beneath the cargo floor for small item storage.
CX-9 gets its grunt from a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that develops 227-hp and 310 lb/ft of torque at a low 2,000 rpm. Use premium 93 octane fuel and it grinds out 250-horses and a whopping 320 lb/ft of torque. Coupled to the 6-speed transmission, the little 2.5 turbo moves this 4,505-pound SUV with quickness and without hesitation both from a standing stop and for highway passing maneuvers. Go easy on the accelerator and EPA rates the combination at 20 city and 28-highway mpg. CX-9 also has an impressive tow rating of 3,500 pounds.
CX-9 rides smoothly and quietly on Bridgestone 20-inch tires. Its suspension nicely soaks up road imperfections, highway tar strips and railroad crossings.
With its G-Vectoring Control Plus system, CX-9 exhibited impressive cornering and stability control in sharp tight turns and quick maneuvers. It was absent of perceived body roll.
CX-9 Signature came with a substantially long standard list and in fact there were no extra cost items other than a delivery charge.
Most wanted safety features included blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure warning, smart brake support, advanced smart city brake support, radar cruise control and many more.
Convenience items included rain sensing wipers, windshield wiper de-icer, heated power mirrors, auto fold door mirrors, hands-free liftgate, rear privacy glass, adaptive headlamps and more.
For all that, CX-9 came in at $46,605 plus delivery of $495 that took the bottom line to a modest $48,200.
Additionally, CX-9 comes with top 5-star government safety ratings. It scored a full five for an overall score, four for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover. All impressive scores for an impressive crossover.