Saturday, June 2, 2018

2018 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD: The Brand’s Newest Upscale Crossover

Highlight: A new upscale Signature trim has been added to the CX-9.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $43,905 (Base model $33,070)

Seating Capacity: 7

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; hill launch assist; traction control system; stability control; a blind spot monitor system; a rear traffic cross alert system with the rearview camera; a smart city brake support system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and spare tire.

Standard Equipment (Base Sport Model): 18-inch wheels; a 6-speed automatic transmission; a/c; a remote keyless entry system; automatic off headlights; second row center armrest; a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; cloth seats; manually operated front seats; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a 7-inch infotainment screen; and cargo area under floor storage

Standard Equipment (Grand Touring Model): 20-inch wheels; automatic headlights; adaptive front cornering lights; automatic high beam headlights; LED fog lights; driver and passenger heated mirrors; power sunroof; roof rails; windshield wiper de-icer; a radar activated cruise control system; automatic dimming rearview mirror; LED lighting throughout the interior cabin; a remote keyless entry system; a power liftgate; a heated steering wheel; lighted vanity mirrors; heated front seats; heated second row seats; leather seats a leather steering wheel; a 12-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio subscription; a navigation system; USB outlets; a heads display system with sign recognition; a lane departure warning system; a lane keep assist system; front and rear parking sensors; and smart brake system with distance recognition support

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: red metallic exterior color; and a cargo mat
Other Trim Level:


Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/HD radio

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder/250-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New:  The CX-9 is a carryover this model year. The more premium and upscale model received a major overhaul last year.

Why:  The last time we spent time behind the wheel of the CX-9 was in 2011. Since that time, the vehicle has gone from being an ugly duckling, so to speak, to a swan. In terms of styling, both inside and out, the vehicle is a standout in the fullsize, three-row crossover segment.

The new model has an upscale interior cabin and a premium exterior design, which rivals the luxury makes. Buyers also have the latest driving aid available, based on trim, as well as the ability to add all-wheel drive.

The CX-9 is now available in four trims. New for this model is the addition of more upscale trim, known as the Signature. The top trim is not available in a front wheel drive configuration. In fact, the Signature trim includes an all-wheel drive system, LED grille lighting accent, a genuine Rosewood interior trim, Nappa leather seats and a leather wrapped steering wheel.

For a $2,000 savings, one can step down to the Grand Touring model, which has all, but a few of the features that were exclusive to the Signature model.

Inside all of the CX-9s, one will notice a uniform theme throughout the entire Mazda line up. One can expect a rotary dial system, which controls the audio, navigation and ventilation system. The vehicle also contains an Ipad-like infotainment screen, giving the interior a fresh, but modern appearance.

Surprisingly, we had concerns about this three-row fullsize crossover only being outfitted only with a 4-cylinder engine. We found the 250-horsepower turbo charged engine to be more than adequate. In fact, the 310-lb-ft of torque was reminiscent of a traditional 6-cylinder. It is both peppy and fuel efficient.

But: We did have a few gripes about Mazda’s fullsize crossover. It is really a tight fit to squeeze into the third row. And while the vehicle offers a premium look, the seats are too firm. The interior design team needs to find seats that give one the perfect balance suitable for both short and long haul road trips. Lastly, what happened to the ability to add a panoramic roof or a dual roof? This feature would further accentuate the sexy exterior design.

Verdict: Mazda has made great strides to push their vehicles a notch above their mainstream competitors, offering both a premium styled exterior and interior design. While its not quite at Acura, Buick and Infiniti level in terms of the premium ride, a six-cylinder engine and luxurious seats, its not far from it.

For buyers looking for a little more than what Chevy and Ford is offering in this segment, the Mazda CX-9 is worth considering, as long as the third row is not a must have feature. The driving characteristics seems to be more engaging than its competitors too!

Competition:  Chevy Traverse; Ford Explorer; Honda Pilot; Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander

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