Space, Pace, & Fun
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – “Driving Matters” says Mazda in its advertising and their products, thankfully, live up to that mantra.
Even here in their largest family hauler, fun to drive ranks well above the competition. It is not confined just to the MX-5 Miata.
What we have here is a mid-size three row crossover that seats 7, Mazda said, but the third row is best reserved for those of shorter stature.
Four trim levels are offered, Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. I would rate the tested Grand Touring trim as the best bang for the buck thanks to its long list of standard features.
It came with just two minor options. And not much more was needed with such welcome equipment as a sunroof, navi, a Bose audio system with a dozen speakers, leather trimmed and heated front seats, head-up display, and excellent fit and finish.
Under the hood was a delightful 2.5-liter turbo four with 310 pounds feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. How many horses are produced depends on what you put in the tank. Mazda said it’s good for 250 hp at 5,000 rpm if you buy 93 octane and 227 hp on 87 octane. Look for a 0-60 in the mid 7 second range helped by a responsive 6-speed automatic. All-Wheel drive was standard on the test vehicle, but few CX-9 owners are likely to go off-roading. But when winter returns… Naa, let’s not think about that.
EPA put the gas economy at 20 mpg around the city, 26 highway for a combined 23. I came in at 22.
What I liked most about this package was the ease with which the power was delivered, excellent handling, a low interior noise level, and the great sounds from that Bose unit. Sooo, a long day behind the wheel is something to look forward to with the added benefit that your morning companions will know they are riding in an upscale vehicle.
While acknowledging that they do serve a need for some younger folks, I am not a fan of the second row folding sun screens that block an attentive driver’s glimpse of what, if anything, lurks in the right side blind spot.
Mazda’s center console mounted knob that controls the 8” screen was easy to master and well ahead of some competitors.
Safety features included Smart City Brake Support that uses infrared radar and works between 2 and 19 mph to cut power, prime the brakes or apply brakes when it senses an impending collision, as well as warn the driver. Also Smart Brake Support that operates at speeds above 9 mph to automatically brake in the case of an impending collision.
And oh, that strange looking thing on the roof is the “Shark Fin Antenna.”
With Mazda’s “fun to drive” reputation intact here, along with the responsive engine, upscale and comfortable interior, the CX-9 will appeal to those looking for a mid-size people and cargo hauler, that doesn’t look at all like the competition. And while the handling is above average, as one would expect from this brand, the ride is comfortable for all.
For the test vehicle, the bottom line came to $43,610 including $940 for delivery. A base Sport model starts at $31.520.