Mazda has been bringing to market a bunch of smaller compact SUVs of late as that particular market segment continues to be very popular.
But the Japanese automaker also has a very good offering in the larger three-row SUV category with the CX-9. Very little has changed for the 2022 model after some tweaks last year, and the CX-9 remains an attractive and highly competitive vehicle in the segment.
It has a starting price of 41,300 for the GS trim, while the top-of-the-line Signature we tested will cost you $53,650, before freight and preparation fees.
The Signature trim can only seat 6 as it has captain’s chairs in the second row, but the CX-9 is designed as a seven-seater in other trims.
It comes fully equipped with a lot of nice features such as heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, wireless phone charging, nappa leather seating, radar cruise control with stop and go function and more.
Powertrain: Regardless of trim, buyers have only one engine option in the CX-9. Luckily, it’s a pretty good one in the form of a Skyactiv 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo powerplant. It is paired to a six-speed automatic, and the CX-9 comes standard with i-Activ all-wheel drive. The engine delivers a solid performance and the transmission moves smoothly through the gears.
The engine works with either regular or premium fuel but given the current price of fuel, I suspect most if not all owners will stick with regular for the time being.
With 87 octane fuel, the engine is rated at 227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Option for the higher-grade fuel, output increases to 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
The CX-9 is estimated to consume that fuel at a combined average of 10.4 litres per 100 kilometres, but I was only able to achieve 13.1 L/100 km.
Exterior: The CX-9 remains one of the better looking three-row SUVs on the market, even if it there have been no changes for this year.
It has a nice front-end grille, with just the right amount of chrome that blends in perfectly with the slim headlight assembly. It’s not boxy and has an elegant overall shape to it, including the rear end styling.
Our tester was painted in Mazda’s Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, a $450 option but one that definitely pops on the CX-9. It was hard to miss among a sea of grey, white and black that seems to be predominant everywhere these days.
Interior: The cabin is equally as refined and welcoming, especially with the Deep Chestnut Nappa Leather seating featuring quilted accent pieces that give the CX-9 an upscale feel.
The materials used are of a very good quality and the fit and finish are both excellent.
The dashboard is a pretty clean design, with a simple row of buttons and knobs for most functions, and a rotary controller for the infotainment screen for the rest.
The second-row captains chairs are comfortable, and the arm rest/storage compartment is a welcome addition, even if it does block what would be a passage to the third row. That makes access back there a little bit tight and legroom is not the best, but it is a usable space.
Lowering that third row also more than doubles the amount of cargo space on the CX-9, which can also two up to 3,500 pounds.
Infotainment: Mazda’s infotainment system features a large 10.25-inch full-colour display, which is a bright spot.
However, there are some quirks to the functionality that do make it a little less than ideal. Especially for the number of screens you need to toggle through to get to something as simple as changing the radio station. As much as I appreciated the clean look of the dash, a few knobs for the radio might not have been a bad addition.
It is also a very monochromatic interface, despite the colour capability of the screen.
It does offer a lot of must-haves, like satellite radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more. And the 12-speaker premium Bose sound system that features AudioPilot 2 noise compensation technology is also a nice treat.
Drive: Out on the road, the CX-9 is just a pleasure. The engine delivers more than enough power and there’s no discernable turbo lag to speak of. Steering feel is excellent, and the suspension delivers a smooth ride, while the whole system works to deliver excellent handling and cornering.
While this is a larger SUV, it does not drive like one thanks to the way Mazda has set up the vehicle.
Conclusion: Despite some minor shortcomings with the infotainment system, the CX-9 remains one of the best three-row SUVs on the market. With several trim options to choose from, there’s a model that will suit just about anyone’s needs. The Signature trim is particularly good thanks to the luxuriousness of the cabin and the other added options that come with this trim.
2022 Mazda CX-9 Signature
Price as tested: $53,650.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre turbo 4-cylinder/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 227 horsepower/ 310 lb-ft of torque (regular fuel)
Fuel (capacity): Regular or premium (74 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 10.4 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 13.1 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/unlimited km (basic)
Competitors: Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Palisade, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas
Links: Mazda Canada