|2020 Mazda CX-9|
Mazda calls the CX-9 far from ordinary. That is a great way to describe Mazda’s largest SUV. At first glance, the CX-9 is just another SUV but as soon as you get a closer look, you start to get hints that this is a special vehicle. The feeling is cemented when you drive it. It is luxurious and fun but at ordinary prices which is very rare for a 7 passenger SUV.
The exterior styling of the CX-9 is the first clue that there is something special going on here. The CX-9 has very attractive lines and with the aggressive front-end styling, it looks like a shark ready to attack. The LED lights and the LED accents add to the attractive styling.
Once inside, you will discover a very upscale interior that looks much more expensive than the price of the CX-9 should allow. The well-appointed interior extends a rich feeling to each of the three rows, creating a sense of sophistication for all occupants. Nothing in the interior feels cheap or low end and that is the theme of the entire car. The leather seats are soft and comfortable and the instrumentation is clear and easy to read.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Our top of the line Signature model had everything you need as standard including a head-up display, 9 inch full color touch screen navigation, 12 speaker Bose audio system, 360 degree camera, ventilated and heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a lot more. The Signature trim gives you captain’s chairs in the second row to help provide passengers a prestigious, first-class cabin feel. We were not a fan of them as some felt they were not as comfortable as the front seats.
We also think that there is a lot of wasted space when you get the captain’s chairs with the giant center console that does not fold down. The third row seats are very useful but space is tight and they are best used for smaller individuals.
The CX-9 is powered by a strong engine. The turbocharged Skyactiv-G 2.5T engine equipped on all CX-9 models delivers a robust 320 lb-ft of torque on 93 octane gasoline (310 lb-ft of torque on 87 octane gasoline); an increase of 10 lb-ft of torque on the outgoing model year. The turbocharged engine is rated at 250 horsepower on 93 octane gasoline (227 horsepower on 87 octane gasoline) and is paired with a six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission.
Mazda’s predictive i-Activ all-wheel drive is standard in CX-9 Signature and optional on all other trim levels. When paired with i-Activ all-wheel drive, the 2020 CX-9 is the first Mazda vehicle offered with the all-new off-road traction assist feature. Replacing the traction control button, this feature can potentially help the driver when adventuring on uneven terrain.
When the diagonal wheels lose traction, off-road traction assist will stop reducing the engine torque and increases the brake force on the wheels without traction. This transfers power to the wheels still on the ground to help allow the vehicle to regain traction and continue the drive. G-Vectoring Control Plus is also standard for 2020 and further improves the steering response to help the driver and all occupants have a smooth, premium driving experience.
When you first start driving the CX-9, you will feel the power of the 2.5 liter engine and it can be impressive. There is a short lag at the beginning but boost quickly builds up and then the CX-9 accelerates strongly. The fun ends quickly though as the power drops off sharply at the top end.
Consequently, the CX-9 is quick and fun but it would be a lot more fun with another 50 hp. At first glance, the transmission will make you feel like you are getting short changed with competitors having 8, 9 or even 10 gears. But you will realize that the six speed works very well and you don’t need any more gears. The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly and is even more responsive in sport mode.
|The interior is well appointed|
The CX-9 is a fairly large SUV and compared to its competition, it may look inferior on paper. Others may have more power or more room but drive the CX-9 and you will realize that the CX-9 is probably the best SUV in its class, at this price.
We took the CX-9 to some twisty mountain roads and it behaved like a sports car. The way that the CX-9 handles corners is incredible. The independent front suspension uses MacPherson struts and a multi-link set-up works well in the rear. It is well balanced, has good steering feel and is confidence inspiring with gentle understeer at the limit.
The 12.6 inch front rotors with 2 piston calipers managed to take a beating and some fade eventually came through but nobody who buys a CX-9 will drive it that way. It was very impressive especially considering that the CX-9 weighs 4300 pounds.
The CX-9 starts out at $35,790 with the Sport model. The Touring will take $37,610 out of your wallet and adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, leather-trimmed seats, power adjustable passenger seats, power liftgate with adjustable height and a second-row center armrest with storage, cup holders, nine inch full color touchscreen, keyless entry and second row power tilt and slide as well as two USB charging ports.
The next level is the Grand Touring which will require that you write a check for $43,450. For the extra money you get 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, 360Â° view monitor, Active Driving Display with traffic sign recognition, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, automatic folding door mirrors, power moonroof, LED door-pocket, Adaptive Front-lighting System, chrome exterior accents, satin chrome roof rails, windshield wipers de-icer, and overhead front center console illumination and front and rear parking sensors.
The CX-9 Touring seems to be the sweet spot and it is a bargain at that price and it is a blast to drive.