The Mazda CX-9 is a versatile, well-equipped addition to the fraternity of family haulers. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Volkswagen Atlas are all strong choices. But the CX-9 has major strengths, few weaknesses, and plenty of overall appeal.
The 2019 edition is the second generation in its fourth year. It's been tweaked each year as SUVs become increasingly attractive to large clans and families of one. New this year are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a retuned suspension, and a surround-view parking camera.
Mazda's largest vehicle is available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature trims. All choices present Mazda at its best, including the base model.
It has three-zone climate control with a second-row control and a 7-inch color touchscreen with a rotary controller. It also boasts Smart City brake support (active at speeds up to 19 mph), blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, and 18-inch wheels.
Standard technology features include the Mazda Connect system with voice command, Internet radio streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, and AM/FM/HD radio with an auxiliary input and two USB inputs. The only downside to the entry-level CX-9 is its manual seat adjustments.
In the higher-level Grand Touring and Signature trims, the three-row, seven-passenger CX-9 further defines its place among SUVs. With a starting price of $42,640, the Grand Touring cruiser combines a quiet cabin with a luxurious interior and a smooth ride with a stylish exterior.
The Grand Touring trim also piles on upgrades: 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, LED foglights, roof rails, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, and traffic sign recognition start the deluge. Add to that driver-seat memory functions, ventilated front seats, retractable sunshades for the middle-row seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, aluminum interior trim, additional interior lighting, and a navigation system. The 12-speaker Bose premium audio system and satellite radio offer plenty for nearly any audiophile.
For its price range, the CX-9 has a surprising lean toward luxury. Leather seats are high quality and the aluminum trim and rosewood inlays further add to the SUV's class.
The CX-9's smooth ride and maneuverability provide a second personality. The vehicle matches many competitors overall in the midsize SUV segment. But it's also among a smaller group of vehicles that feel more like a sedan than their definition.
The new Mazda is equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 227 horsepower. It's matched to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and is available with front- and all-wheel drive. It accelerates from 0-to-60 mph in 7.3 seconds, an average time for its segment.
Fuel economy averages in the AWD model are 20 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 mpg on the freeway. The averages are slightly improved with front-wheel drive.
With its adept steering, short turning radius, maneuverability, and spirited feel, the CX-9 has a prideful persona. It merges into traffic confidently and passes slower traffic with little effort. It's stable and secure powering down the road.
As a cargo hauler, the CX-9 has 14.4 cubic feet of space behind its third row of seats. A flat cargo area is presented with rear down seats down, expanding the available room to 71.2 cubic feet. Some competitors have larger areas. The Mazda has also 3,500-pound towing capacity, also outdone by some competitors.
Designers did well with other storage areas. The CX-9 features lots of small compartments for various needs as well as bottle holders in the doors.
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2019 MAZDA CX-9 GRAND TOURING
Vehicle type - 7-passenger AWD CUV
Base price - $42,640
As tested - $43,635
Engine type - 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder
Displacement - 2.5-liter
Horsepower - 227 at 5000 rpm
Torque - 310 at 2000 rpm
Transmission - 6-speed automatic
Overall length - 199.4 inches
Turning circle - 38.8 feet
Curb weight - 4,383 pounds
Fuel capacity - 19.5 gallons
EPA mileage rating -
20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway