2015 Mazda CX-9 Review

2015 Mazda CX-9 - Roomy 2015 Mazda CX-9 crossover vehicle anchors Mazda's vehicle line


 Mazda has been injecting its vehicles with a decidedly sporty nature for years, and its 2015 CX-9 crossover is no exception.

The four-door hatchback CX-9 drives much like a worthy large sedan, with nicely weighted and accurate power steering, agile handling, supple ride and friendly acting brake pedal. It's enjoyable to drive.

Helping keeping things safe and stable are anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, besides Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control System and Roll-Stability Control.

Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, backup sensors and a rearview camera are standard on Touring and Grand Touring models and not available on the base Sport.

For added safety's sake, there's a bunch of air bags and full-length side curtains for all.

Styling is attractive (at least for a crossover) from the CX-9's smooth front end and sharply raked windshield to its attractive dual exhaust outlets that help give sporty visual flair.

This is a genuine seven-seater, although keeping the third-row seats in their normal position results in a small (17.2 cubic feet) cargo area--good for maybe just one or two days worth of groceries.. However, second and third row seats can be easily folded flat to provide up to a whopping 100.7 cubic feet of cargo space.

The third-row seats are decent, at least for shorter trips, but entering and leaving them calls for extra effort. The CX-9 has a high floor, so getting in or out also necessitates some added effort.

Once inside the quiet, upscale interior with its soft-touch points, occupants enjoy a high seating position. The driver has easy access to the power windows, but has marginal visibility to the rear because of the roof design. Large outside power mirrors help here.

The CX-9 stickers from $29,985 to $36,625. There are well-equipped entry Sport, mid-range Touring and top-line Grand Touring models. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard for all versions, and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

I tested the $36,625 Grand Touring AWD model, which is packed with comfort and convenience items. Besides cosmetic touches such as chrome exterior door handles, they include heated power front leather seats, 3-zone automatic climate control, 5.8-inch color display with rear backup camera, power up/down hatch to assist when your arms are loaded with stuff--and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Actually, all 2015 CX-9 models have 3-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, tilt-telescopic wheel and wheel-mounted audio and cruise control operations. Not to mention Bluetooth-enabled hands-free audio and phone connectivity (which I didn't try) and the 5.8-inch full color in-dash multi-information display touch screen.

Sport model equipment includes 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, AM/FM/CD head unit with six speakers and available heated front cloth seats.

The Touring's standard items include leather-trimmed upholstery, power front seats, Blind Spot Monitoring system, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, rear backup sensors and a rearview camera.

Optional are such items as a power moonroof and Bose audio system with ten speakers.

There's only one engine for all: an advanced 3.7-liter short-stroke V-6 with dual overhead camshafts, 24 valves and variable valve timing. It generates 273 horsepower and works with a smooth, responsive 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature.

The CX9 is heavy at approximately 4,500-plus pounds and rather long at 200.6-inches.But the engine provides fast acceleration, largely because the torque curve keeps 250 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 to 6,000 r.p.m. It peaks at 270 pound-feet at 4,250 r.p.m.

All CX-9s are equipped with 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, but a Towing Prep Package--only available on the Grand Touring--increases that pull strength to 3,500 pounds.

Estimated fuel economy isn't a CX-9 strong point. It's 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on highways with FWD and 16 and 22 for AWD versions. I actually beat both figures with my test CX-9 AWD model by a few miles per gallon during mostly moderate driving in town and on highways.

Front seats are supportive, and second-row seats offers approximately 5 inches of fore-aft travel, besides a manual-reclining backrest. Gauges can be easily read, and there are large HIV control knobs and an array of easily used smaller controls. My test CX-9's touch screen was easy to read and operate, but a driver still must take his eyes off the road for a brief time.

There's a deep front console covered storage bin and all doors have decently sized storage pockets. One nice touch are long sun visor extensions that slide out to cover more upper windshield areas to prevent glare when, for instance, driving into a low-setting sun.

The heavy hood is held up by a prop rod, instead of a hydraulic strut, but components under the hood are deftly arranged.

The refined, nicely built CX-9 is a comfortable, roomy, upscale crossover that shows Mazda can compete with premium rivals.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.