2017 Mazda CX-9 Review

2017 Mazda CX-9 - New era dawns for Mazda CX-9.


Unmistakably Mazda, the 2017 CX-9 midsize crossover sport utility vehicle is the largest vehicle in the company's lineup, and available in three trim levels - Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.

Competition was tough when Mazda's CX-9 was introduced in 2007. It has only gotten tougher, which is why the three-row, seven-passenger front- or all-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle received a facelift and total remodel last year.

The 3.7-liter, 273-horsepower engine is history. It has been replaced with a 2.5-liter, 227-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Fuel usage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, has improved from 19 to 23 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. On the highway, exclusively, the mpg is 27 mpg and in the city 21 mpg. With the smaller engine, FWD models weigh 200 pounds less and AWD models 300 pounds less.

Mazda's new SKYACTIV-G 2.5T that employs cooled exhaust gas recirculation system raises the horsepower to 250 if premium (93 octane) fuel is used.   

The CX-9's combined fuel usage now rivals that of major three-row competitors such as the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Explorer. During the test weeks in an AWD Signature model of the CX-9 (70 percent Interstate) fuel consumption was exactly 19 mpg. That mpg was based on three persons aboard, three adult hockey bags plus luggage for three, and traveling at or close to the posted Interstate speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

A six-speed shiftable automatic transmission has been carried over from prior years. The four-cylinder can tow a 3,500-pound trailer, quite a credit to its strength. The CX-9 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in eight seconds.

Visually, the sleek CX-9 continues Mazda's KODO "Soul of Motion" design cues that starts with a bold, five-point front grille with chrome trim that flows up into the eagle-eyed headlights. The steeply raked windshield compliments the brawny fender arches; the C-Pillar slants forward for a sportier look, and the CX-9 rolls on standard 18-inch and optional 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires.

A paint palette contains six colors, including Soul Red and Machine Gray, which have a depth and luster normally seen on vehicles with six-figure stickers.

On the interior a slender bar separating dashboard functions remains. Trim has been upgraded in all models (Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Signature) with Nappa leather the primary adornment. The Signature adds to the leather with genuine rosewood trim from Japan.

Today the storage space behind the third upright row is 14.4 cubic feet as opposed to 17.3 in former years.  The 71 cubic feet of possible cargo space behind the front row is less than formerly.  Behind an upright second row, there are 38.2 cubic feet (39.8 formerly) of carpeted storage space. The two rear rows fold absolutely flat for a smooth load surface. Storage was better than initially expected.

The CX-9 is an uncommonly comfortable vehicle in which to ride, but this accolade can be shared with competitors in the big crossover-wagon-sport utility market. In this market, seats are large, leg room is ample in front, insulating factors are topnotch and the dashboard layout is sensible.

Leg room in two of the three rows of the CX-9 is adequate for six-footers and taller. Head and legroom suffer a bit in the third row.

The new CX-9 today has four USB ports, two in front and two for the second row, which now can tilt and slide even with a child's safety seat strapped down tightly. The second row also has sunshades.

Standard equipment on the Signature and several upgrade CX-9 models are power heated front seats and exterior mirrors (with turn lamps), power door locks and four express windows plus the liftgate, remote entry and keyless ignition. There are memory settings for driver's seat and exterior mirrors.

A power moonroof, color touch-screen navigation system, satellite radio and a 12-speaker Bose sound system are standard.

Instead of 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, the Signature has 20 inchers. Niceties are intermittent front and rear wipers, xenon headlamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, radar cruise control, climate controls front and rear and aluminum roof rails.

Manufacturer suggested prices are $31,520, $35,970, $40,170 and $44,015 for, respectively, the Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature models.

Signature model of Mazda CX-9
Type: all-wheel-drive, four-door, seven-passenger sport utility vehicle
Price: $44,015
Engine: 2.5-liter, 227-horsepower or 250-horsepower (with premium fuel) turbocharged inline four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel tank: 20.1 gallons
Fuel: regular or premium
Towing: 3,500 pounds
Wheelbase: 115 inches
Length: 199 inches
Width: 77 inches
Height: 68 inches without roof frails
Weight: 4,280 pounds
Ground clearance: 8 inches
Leg room: 41 inches front, 39.4 inches second row, 29.7 inches third row
Tires, wheels: P255s mounted on 20-inch aluminum alloys
Brakes: vented, 12.6-inch front, 12.8-inch rear
Cargo: 14 cubic feet with seats in three rows upright, 34 cubic feet second row up and third row down, 71 cubic feet second and third rows down
Suspension: struts front, multilinks rear, stabilizer bars front and rear
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Assembly: Hiroshima, Japan
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles with 24-hour roadside assistance, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain
Information: www.mazdausa.com

M.J. Frumkin and J.E. Kuyper

M. J. Frumkin and J. E. Kuyper covered the auto industry for decades. Frumkin was with Consumer Guide for 14 years, has authored four books and co-authored three more. He is also the historian/archivist for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association/Chicago Auto Show. Kuyper has been an automotive writer, editor and columnist for newspapers in the Chicago area the past 25 years. His reviews currently appear in the daily Northwest Herald newspaper. Frumkin and Kuyper are founding members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.