2017 Mazda CX-9 Review

CX-9

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2017 Mazda CX-9 Overview

Crossovers have become the de facto choice for many buyers in the past few years. They offer a number of advantages over other types of vehicles—a higher ride height, more passenger and cargo room, and the availability of all-wheel drive (AWD). Automakers have responded to this growing demand by introducing new crossovers of various sizes and traits, and the CX-9 is Mazda’s contribution. A redesign in 2016 added more luxury appointments, driving fun, and fuel-efficiency improvements borrowed from the rest of the Mazda lineup—and the end result is a crossover that stands out from the crowd in more ways than one. The CX-9 enters 2017 with no major changes and is available in four trims: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature.

Mazda’s Kodo design language takes center stage in the CX-9 with what might be Mazda’s most extreme crossover style yet. The CX-9’s front end sports a massive pentagonal grille with chrome edging, narrowed LED headlights, and an aggressively sculpted front bumper. Its sleek side profile shows off lower-door creasing that runs from front to rear and a roofline with a spoiler, similar to that of the smaller Mazda3 hatchback. At the rear, Mazda has fitted a chrome bar between the slim LED taillights, and dual exhaust tips peek out from below the bumper.

The CX-9’s interior features a dashboard similar to that of the Mazda6 sedan, with flowing lines and a simple, intuitive control layout. During its 2016 redesign, Mazda made noticeable improvements to the quality of the materials used, with soft-touch plastics for the base trim and increasing amounts of aluminum, leather, and wood as you climb the trim levels. The top-of-the-line Signature trim gives luxury crossovers a run for their money, with its auburn Nappa leather upholstery and genuine rosewood trim from Japanese guitar-maker Fujigen. The Mazda Connect infotainment system can be accessed via the 7- or 8-inch color touchscreen or a rotary knob in the center console. An Aux input jack, 2 USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 6-speaker audio system come standard on the base Sport and Touring trims, while the Grand Touring and Signature trims receive an upgraded 12-speaker Bose Surround Sound system.

Power for the CX-9 comes from a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder SkyActiv engine good for 227 hp (or 250 hp with Premium fuel) and 310 lb-ft of torque, which is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. These power figures may seem unimpressive for a 3-row crossover, but it’s a different story behind the wheel. With such a high torque figure, the CX-9 delivers surprising acceleration for a vehicle of this size and can reach 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. It also shed 250 pounds during its 2016 redesign, thanks to a more compact engine and other weight-saving tricks. The Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring trims come standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) but are available with AWD, while the Signature trim is offered exclusively with AWD.

Unlike most of its competition, the CX-9 offers seating for 7 passengers with no 6- or 8-passenger configurations. The front and second row provide plenty of head- and legroom, and the second-row seats can slide fore and aft and recline for extra comfort and convenience. The third row, however, is best reserved for small kids due to the lack of legroom. Cargo room is a bit disappointing for the class, at 14.4 cubic feet. Folding the third row provides 38.2 cubic feet of space, and folding both rows leaves a total of 71.2 cubic feet. This trails competitors like the Honda Pilot, however, which offers 16.5, 46.8, and 83.9 cubic feet of cargo room, respectively.

Mazda equips all CX-9s with a full set of airbags, traction and stability control, a reversing camera, and an emergency telematics system. Stepping up to the Touring trim adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and the Grand Touring and Signature trims are also equipped with lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, and Smart City Brake Support, a collision-mitigation system for city driving at speeds under 18 mph.

Pricing for the 2017 Mazda CX-9 hasn’t yet been announced but should be similar to that of the 2016 model, which starts at $31,520 for the Sport trim with FWD.

Updated

Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.

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