When it comes to car travel, even in SUVs/Crossovers, families with more than ‘2+2’ can get a little flustered. Mazda ‘s CX-9 is a luxurious solution – with this large seven seater you can arrive at your destination with everyone relaxed and comfortable.
Well the www.carshowroom.com.au family plus one visitor from Colorado did. Even with a full load of surfing and sports equipment, and enough supplies to feed an army…oh and did we mention the golf clubs?
The Mazda CX-9 is that sort of car. But all that practicality rides in impressive luxury inside and is clothed in a handsomely styled body.
Mazda CX-9 Overview
CX-9 is the largest passenger car with a Mazda badge. This full-size seven-seat Crossover/SUV has been around for a while, but still stacks-up very well even against the very latest rivals.
Mazda offers the CX-9 in front-wheel-drive starting from $43,770, but www.carshowroom.com.au took the keys to the range-topping all-wheel-drive Grand Touring model which was stickered at $61,680.
Family buyers demand safety and the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring certainly delivers – in the latest update Rear Cross Traffic Alert was added to the technology suite which already included Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Obstruction Warning, High Beam Control, Lane Departure warning and rear parking sensors.
Mazda CX-9 Engine
CX-9 runs Mazda’s longitudinally-mounted MZI 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine. This is a lightweight short-stroke high compression (10.3:1) 60-degree V6 which uses a die-cast aluminium block with cast-in-iron cylinder liners and aluminium heads.
And it’s surprisingly revvy - maximum power is 204kW at 6250rpm and peak torque of 367Nm is delivered 4250rpm. That just shades the 201kW/337Nm 3.5-litre V6 in the all-new Toyota Kluger.
Our Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring used Mazda’s Active Torque Split AWD system and six-speed electronic automatic transmission.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption for the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring scores 11.3l/100kms.
Braked towing capacity is listed at 2,000kgs.
Mazda CX-9 The Interior
Appropriate for the range-topper, Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring features leather seats (fronts heated) which add to the already high-quality look and feel inside. In fact the CX-9 presents an upscale interior which leaves rivals looking a bit underdone and with a wheelbase of 2875mm provides interior space which also leaves some in the shade.
Part of that luxury story is stylish ‘Bordeaux’ coloured trim highlight panels. And the Grand Touring adds suede door trims with contrasting red stitching
Mazda being Mazda, the driver’s environment was quite sporty with electronic seat adjustment as well as rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel providing a great set-up. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel was sporty with a nice thick grip.
Instrumentation was the usual Mazda classy layout – gauges housed in a curved binnacle and to the left a thick centre stack housing the climate control, audio and Tom Tom satellite navigation (5.8-inch screen). As part of its extras, the Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring runs a premium 10-speaker 277W Bose audio system.
Those in the second row enjoyed rake and slide adjustment for the 60:40 split-fold seating (sliding forward helps with room when the third row is used). And unlike some rivals, the third row seating in the Mazda CX-9 was rather spacious.
Out back, the cargo area was massive and easily handled a weekend golf trip. That’s 1887-litres with all seats folded, 928-litres with the third-row seat folded or 267-litres when the third row was in-place.
Mazda CX-9 Exterior & Styling
From any angle the Mazda CX-9 casts an imposing on-road presence. At 5106mm in length, 1728mm high and 1936mm wide, this is a large Crossover/SUV.
But thanks to Mazda’s acclaimed ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ styling theme, the CX-9 is imbued with some nice curves around the glasshouse and front-end which soften the overall look. A touch of sportiness is also part of the picture.
The ‘KODO’ treatment is highlighted by the ‘wing shape’ for Mazda’s hallmark large grille. Combine that with nicely shaped headlights (Grand Touring as tested gets Bi-Xenon headlights with LED DRLs in a ‘halo shape around the lights) and plenty of curves for the bumper…well, the front-end looked surprisingly aerodynamic.
It’s a similar story in profile where the curved glasshouse gives a slippery look. Good-looking 20-inch alloy wheels on the Grand Touring model we tested add some muscle.
For the rear Mazda’s stylists delivered a complex contemporary look with plenty of curves and high-mounted lights.
Mazda CX-9 On The Road
We’re family guys here at www.carshowroom.com.au and so during our time with the Mazda CX-9 it undertook lots of working family type activities – the daily commute, trips to the airport, school runs, sport, golf and a weekend away. Exactly what families use their Mazda CX-9 for every day.
And ‘our’ CX-9 passed the test with flying colours. The AWD system accidentally saw some work too when the only parking spot at Woolamai Beach, Phillip Island was on the sand…we drove out easily.
Mazda’s grunty 204kW/366Nm 3.7-litre V6 was a handy ally in both the city and rural highways. It can be a bit noisy under full acceleration but is nicely mated to the conventional six-speed automatic transmission and responds well when asked for overtaking while remaining commendably quiet when cruising.
Underneath, Mazda has the CX-9’s MacPherson strut front/multi link rear suspension well sorted and when you’re hunting along, the not-inconsiderable size of the CX-9 is muted in the driving dynamics sense by roll stability control and of course dynamic stability control. In other words even sporty drivers will find the Mazda CX-9 to their liking.
And a word on Mazda CX-9’s High Beam Control system. The weather turned for our night-time return from Phillip Island – driving rain and severe crosswinds for the Bass Highway which is far from the world’s premier piece of road engineering – and although we’ve been flippant about these sorts of systems, the efficiency of the CX-9’s automatic switching to high beam when possible was impressive.
No steering wheel paddle shifters for the Mazda CX-9 so, over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, we changed gears manually using the gear-lever. In that mode, cog-swapping was a little on the slow side (but hey this isn’t an 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5, it’s a torquey 3.7-litre V6 in a large SUV).
Nevertheless, the Mazda CX-9 was astonishingly good over the twisty stuff. In fact we can’t think of a comparable seven-seater which is better.
Around town and for the school run, the Mazda CX9’s refinement came to the fore – nicely isolated from outside noise. Practicality got a big tick too with parking a breeze thanks to the reversing camera and rear parking sensors plus that massive 928-litre cargo capacity, straight-forward access to the third seating row and easy folding when we needed just two seating rows.
Mazda CX-9 Challenges
Our Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD tipped the scales at 2086kgs. Combine that with those handsome 20-inch alloy wheels and relatively low profile 245/50R20 Bridgestone Dueller H/L rubber and the ride over potholes can be a bit jarring – of course the payback is those sporty driving dynamics.
Mazda CX-9 Verdict
Addition of Rear Cross Traffic Alert to the Mazda CX-9’s suite of safety technologies at the latest model upgrade was a smart move. As we said, with Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Obstruction Warning already standard…well even the most cautious of drivers should be able to admirably cope with the size of Mazda’s luxury seven-seater.
Like the Toyota Kluger, the Mazda CX-9 was conceived and designed very much for the North American market. CX-9 is large, but the indisputable fact is it caters perfectly for families who need the seven seats/space and, in the case of the Grand Touring model we tested, a fair degree of luxury as well.
And its slick driving dynamics prove cars like this can be desirable even for enthusiast drivers.
Throw-in the nice styling plus Mazda Australia’s sharp pricing (our Grand Touring model has come down in price by more than $2,000 since February)…well, all things considered, the Mazda CX-9 mounts a compelling case to be the best of its kind.
Mazda CX-9 The Competition
We’re huge fans of the made-in-America Toyota Kluger ($67,900 for the seven-seat Grande range-topper). Not everyone likes the looks but we think the American SUV style is a cracker. Spacious inside and nice to drive (the 201kW/337Nm V6 is a gem), the latest Kluger shows the strength and versatility of the Toyota world. On the down side, Kluger’s interior isn’t quite as classy as the Mazda CX-9.
Ford Territory should also be on your list - the range-topping petrol Titanium is a bargain at $48,490. Sure the Territory doesn’t match the Mazda CX-9 for interior space but for driving dynamics, we applaud the Ford Australia engineering team because the last-ever Territory is a pearler.