When Mazda introduced the second generation of the CX-9 in 2016, it introduced one of the nicest looking mid-sized crossovers in the market.
A few years later, as competitors have refreshed their offerings, the statement still stands.
The 2018 Mazda CX-9 remains one of the most attractive vehicles in its category and it offers room for up to 7 passengers in a nice to drive package. It’s not perfect, but it checks off a lot of the boxes consumers are looking for.
You can get into a CX-9 for a starting price of $36,400 (before taxes and fees) for a base GS trim, while the top flight Signature trim is priced at $50,300.
The CX-9 is equipped with Mazda’s Skyactiv technology in the form of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with dynamic pressure turbo. It puts out 250 horsepower and a maximum of 310 ft-lb of torque when using 93 octane fuel. The recommended fuel type is 87 octane, which results in 227 ft-lb of torque.
The engine is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and the i-ACTIV all-wheel drive system.
The Signature trim also features safety features such as pedestrian detection, smart city brake support and radar cruise control with stop and go functionality.
As mentioned above, the CX-9 remains one of the more handsome vehicles it its segment, especially from the front and back.
The angled grille design, long hood and steeply raked windshield make an instant impression and it’s a look that Mazda has mimicked on other models, so clearly they got it right.
The rear features an integrated spoiler and a nicely executed taillight treatment that highlights a chrome trim that joins the two sides as one. Capping off the look on the Signature trim are some chrome accents and nice 20-inch ally wheels.
The exterior’s stylish design carries over to the interior, which is nicely appointed and offers a comfortable experience for occupants.
And the Signature trim comes with some exclusive features that make the interior a luxurious place to be.
They include Nappa leather upholstery, a Rosewood-trimmed centre console panel and door switch panel, cross stitching detail on the steering wheel, Signature grille illumination and LED illumination for the centre console panel.
The CX-9 also features creature comforts like heated front and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel for those cold mornings.
Second-row passengers also benefit from seats that can recline, although the passengers in the back row might not appreciate you leaning back into an already cramped space.
The infotainment system is what you have come to expect from Mazda, with an 8-inch touchscreen atop the centre console, with the HMI control for the system located behind the shifter.
In the Signature trim, there’s a standard navigation system and 12-speaker premium Bose sound system to please your ears. On the whole, the infotainment works just fine, but it was sluggish and slow to respond to commands at times.
What was also sluggish as times, surprisingly, was the engine.
Not knowing what type of fuel the vehicle was filled with before our test, we can only hope it was a lower-grade fuel (87 octane) that resulted in a lower torque output to explain the situation.
In normal setting, the CX-9 felt underpowered at times, a situation that is easily resolved by flipping the engine into sport mode via a switch. However, that comes with a fuel-efficiency penalty that makes staying in that mode for extended periods far from ideal.
However, that doesn’t make the CX-9 unpleasant to drive because it makes up for that in terms of its ride comfort, steering feel and pleasant passenger environment.
The seven-seater also offers owners a towing option of up to 1,588 kg on top of the maximum cargo volume of 2,017 litres if there’s no passengers. With all three rows in use, cargo capacity in the back is 407 litres.
The CX-9 has more positives than negatives when it comes to consumers in the market for a three-row, seven-seat crossover.
It is stylish, offers a well appointed interior and, overall, is a pleasure to drive.
2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature
Price as tested: $52, 510.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: Skyactiv 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with dynamic pressure turbo/ 6-speed automatic
Power/torque: 250 horsepower/ 310 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (74 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 10.4 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 12.3 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/unlimited km (basic)
Competitors: Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander
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