When you think of a luxury SUV, Mazda is not the first brand that comes to mind. But the CX-9 Signature may change that. It’s very upscale with features normally found on much pricier luxury vehicles.
Mazda introduced the CX-9 for the 2006 model year and it got redesigned for 2016. For 2017, Mazda’s low-speed emergency braking system Smart City Braking Support is now standard on the Touring trim.
The CX-9 is available in Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature trims. Starting prices range from $31,520 to $44,315. Front wheel drive is standard on the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trims and Mazda’s all-wheel-drive i-ACTIV system is available. AWD is standard on the Signature trim.
There aren’t many three-row crossovers that are as good looking as the CX-9, thanks to Mazda’s KODO Soul of Motion styling.
The Mazda CX-9 is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine that makes 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic. Acceleration is quick off the line, steering is tight and it corners pretty well with little body lean. All in all, it’s pretty fun to drive—chances are you’ll forget that you’re behind the wheel of a three-row crossover. However, if the CX-9 is loaded down with passengers and gear for a family road trip, you’ll notice a slight decline in performance. Otherwise, it’s a very pleasant daily driver for taking the kids to school and piano lessons and driving to and from work.
Fuel efficiency is very good for the class. EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23 mpg. I got 21 mpg during my week with a bit more city than highway driving.
The luxurious interior of the Signature rivals what you’d find in some high-end crossovers. The center console is surrounded by genuine rosewood trim, and the aluminum trim in satin and glossy finishes adds a posh touch. The cabin is also very quiet; Mazda points out that there are more than 53 pounds of sound-deadening mats installed below the floor.
The Nappa leather-trimmed seats are supportive and comfortable. The first two rows boast good leg- and headroom. The second row seats slide and recline so your passengers can find the most comfy positions. And there are sunshades in the second row.
Getting into the third row is pretty easy; in fact, kids should have no trouble doing it themselves. And it’s fairly roomy for a third row; even average-sized adults will be comfortable for an hour or two.
The Mazda Connect Infotainment system is standard on the CX-9. It’s user friendly and also has knobs and buttons, making it easy to do things like change radio stations and adjust climate settings. However it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles offered by many rivals; for example, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The Signature trim is loaded. There are no optional packages; you can only add a few individual options. It includes a a boat load of technology. The Active Driving Display is a head-up display projected on the windshield providing your speed and the posted speed limit. There’s also blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear backup sensor, high beam control. Smart City Brake Support uses infrared radar at 2 to 19 mph to warn the driver, cut power, prime the brakes or apply brakes when it senses an impending collision. mart Brake Support operates at speeds higher than 9 mph to automatically brake for an impending collision.
The CX-9 has 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space with all three rows of seating in place; 38.2 cubes with the third row down and 71.2 cubes with both rows folded. This is below average for the class. And you can’t fold down the second-row from the back—you have to do it from the side doors. The CX-9 does have a power liftgate with adjustable height.
When properly equipped, the CX-9 can tow up to 3,500 pounds and Trailer Sway Control is standard.
Mazda zoom-zoom handling
Very good fuel efficiency for the class
Signature boasts lots of bells and whistles including many tech features
Beautifully finished interior that rivals luxury brands
The not so good:
Cargo room is below average for the class
No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
My tester starts at $44,315. Cargo mat is $100. All-weather floor mats are $200. Machine gray paint charge is $300. Delivery fee is $940 bringing the grand total to $45,855.
The CX-9 Signature delivers luxury, technology and performance in a three-row crossover on par with higher-priced brands.