Mazda is known for adding value to its cars and SUVs and the second generation CX-9 takes center stage for 2019 with technology upgrades, re-tuned suspension and more sound-deadening material to quiet the ride.
But is it enough to gain market share over popular rivals, some offering lower prices and more cargo? After a week of test driving the flagship crossover, we think it has promise.
Stingy cargo space
Can get pricey
Cramped third row
Trim levels include the base Sport with a value starting price of $32,280; Touring, Grand Touring and top of the line Signature flirting with a $50k sticker.
It is worth noting the Sport is not stingy when it comes to a long list of standard equipment, including keyless entry, push-button start, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking and lots more.
New this year is the availability of Apple Car Play and Android Auto with the Touring trim and above. The infotainment system displays media on an 8-inch touchscreen and negates the need for factory navigation. Touring trim also comes with a safety suite of sophisticated gear, including full stop adaptive radar cruise, pedestrian detection and smart braking.
If luxury amenities are a must on your list, the Signature trim on our tester delivered to the nines for a lot less than many luxury brands.
Its Lexus-like posh interior features stitched leather, rosewood interior trim with extra padding, genuine aluminum trim panels, supplemental interior lighting at center console, as well as exterior badging upgrades and LED grille accent lighting.
All trims share the power output built into its SkyActive-G 2.5T turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Mated with a six-speed transmission with selectable sport mode, CX-9 acts more like a six-cylinder with a spirited ride and suspension that hugs the road like a sports car.
In our independent testing, the CX-9 reached 60 miles per hour in 8.2 seconds, about average for this segment.
Mazda engineers deserve kudos for processing low-end torque and matching it to the driving habits of most crossover drivers. With 310 lb-ft of torque (power), the CX-9 is designed to deliver robust performance. We found the EPA fuel economy test averaging 23 miles per gallon spot on, as long as you fill up with premium fuel. Using regular 87 octane fuel will decrease results by about 3 mpg.
There is generous room up front with supportive power-seat adjustments. Second-row passengers have generous head and legroom with adjustable seat backs, as well as fore and aft movement.
That’s it for comfort, though third row seating is best suited for small children or, better yet, folded flat for needed cargo space.
With all-wheel-drive available across the lineup, the CX-9 system counteracts wheel slippage using a sophisticated sensor adjusting power to wheels up to 200 times per second. Combining this technology with a spirited engine and suspension system keeps the crossover firmly planted while cornering, braking and straightaway travel.
Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at email@example.com.
What was reviewed
2019 Mazda CX-9 AWD
Engine: Skyactive-G 2.5-turbo four cylinder, 250 horsepower
EPA rated mileage: 20 city, 26 highway, 23 combined
Assembled: Hiroshima, Japan; U.S./Canadian parts, 0 percent; major source of foreign parts, Japan, 90 percent. Country of origin—engine and transmission—Japan.
Crash-test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Mazda CX-9 an overall five-star rating, with five being the highest. Side-impact protection was rated at five stars, with four stars for frontal crash and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had not rated the CX-9 as of this writing.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper; 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain.