2020 Mazda CX-9 review: When fashion trumps function

Table of Contents

2020 Mazda CX-9

Guaranteed is a beaut!

Craig Cole/Roadshow

This may perhaps be the most effective-searching three-row crossover on sale today. Even although it is obtaining on in decades, the Mazda CX-9 is however an exemplar of great taste, stunning to behold the two within and out. 


  • Buckets of minimal-stop torque
  • Spectacular refinement
  • Luxury-vehicle interior
  • Sultry styling

Will not Like

  • Mediocre infotainment method
  • Motor could be smoother
  • Confined cargo house

But need to fashion genuinely subject when it is time to acquire a loved ones-schlepping utility automobile, a person that will be packed with kids and their involved paraphernalia, tenting equipment, pieces of furniture and outsized hauls from every month Costco operates? Possibly not. Factors like gas economic climate, pricing and specially capaciousness are considerably far more essential elements to look at. And in some of these spots, the CX-9’s splendor is genuinely only skin deep.

The CX-9 competes in a crowded subject, a person rife with great selections. It squares off immediately with automobiles like the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Toyota’s redesigned Highlander and the new Hyundai Palisade as perfectly as the Chevy Traverse and the Ford Explorer. Those people two Korean choices are in all probability its strongest competition, getting won significant praise, although the Highlander will unquestionably siphon off chance-averse motorists who want extended-haul dependability above all else, even though the Explorer will in all probability draw in the patriotic kind who want some thing a tiny far more pink, white and Blue Oval.

Offering customers with a pleasant menu of decisions, the CX-9 is presented in 4 models: Activity, Touring, Grand Touring and Signature. As in competitive models, front- and all-wheel push are obtainable, although 4-corner traction is standard on the best-shelf variant, which is what I am reviewing here. 

Creating even the foundation model deserving of thing to consider, the CX-9’s list of no-extra-demand machines is extended and features points like rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, automatic significant beams, LED head- and taillights additionally three-zone local climate handle. In addition to all that, Mazda’s i-Activesense suite of driver aids is included, with things like adaptive cruise handle, automatic unexpected emergency braking, lane-preserving aid and blind-spot checking with rear cross-site visitors alert — a veritable smorgasbord of driver-help tech. 

As you’d in all probability count on, capping off the CX-9 range, Signature models are equipped with the most goodies. In addition to all individuals standard fripperies, Nappa leather, aluminum accents and Santos rosewood trim propel this model’s interior to luxury-vehicle heights. Outside of that, my tester is also equipped with heated, 2nd-row captain’s chairs, twenty-inch wheels and a Bose sound method with 12 speakers, which in present day world genuinely just isn’t that numerous sound emitters, but it will however tickle even the most jaundiced audiophile’s ears. 

A dashboard-mounted display spanning 7 inches is standard, but Touring models and greater get a 9-inch display. They also gain from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thank goodness, simply because the infotainment method is a mess. Not only is its consumer interface confounding, but numerous of the icons appear preposterous. Did Mazda style this, or was it finished by the folks at Playskool? 

This utility vehicle’s front buckets are reasonably comfy, although they are not my favored chairs in the small business. Nonetheless, great information for motorists in colder climates: The vehicle’s seat heaters are so scorching that gentlemen motorists are certain to concern for their skill to have young children. On significant, they are true giblet roasters. 

2020 Mazda CX-9

This three-row crossover is graced with an interior that wouldn’t appear out of place in a luxury automobile. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Regrettably, the CX-9’s 2nd-row buckets, which are also heated, are not notably comfy, possibly, although a handy center console divides them, housing a pair of all-essential USB ports and sufficient area to retail outlet a lot of things.

As for the 3rd-row bench, it is restricted on the two head- and legroom. At 6 ft tall, my noggin receives jammed appropriate into the ceiling if I check out to sit back again there. As I often say, the 3rd-row seat in automobiles like this is most effective still left to kids. At the very least Mazda offers a different pair of USB ports as a consolation prize. You may perhaps stop up with a number of dislocated neck vertebrae, but at the very least your cellphone will be billed so you can simply call a chiropractor.

The CX-9’s interior may perhaps be prodigiously quality, but even although in dimensions it is comparable to its major rivals, it gives appreciably fewer storage ability behind just about every row of seats. For instance, the Volkswagen Atlas, which is about as unexciting a three-row crossover as you can get, is far more than an inch shorter overall, but it has almost 26 added cubic ft of greatest cargo volume. Room efficiency is not this Mazda’s forte.

Fortuitously, refinement is. Even at highway speeds, the CX-9 continues to be hushed, with quite tiny wind or street sound penetrating its NVH defenses. This crossover’s experience is also dialed in it carries itself far better than some “luxury” automobiles. Impacts are easily absorbed and digested, which, in a term, makes the overall chassis truly feel slick. When hitting bumps or potholes, there’s no grittiness or vibration to this Mazda’s responses. 

There is certainly a particular precision to this cabin, and you get the effect every tiny detail was agonized more than by overall groups of designers and engineers. The normal style is tasteful and cleanse, additionally the products used are impressively quality. Assembly high-quality is flawless.

2020 Mazda CX-9

The 2nd-row bucket seats could be far more comfy and the aftmost accommodations are a restricted squeeze for adult travellers. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

There’s  lot of kit and caboodle to continue to keep monitor of here, but points are considerably less difficult in advance of the firewall simply because just a single powertrain is presented in the CX-9. This a person-and-finished tactic is welcome simply because it retains points simple, although some customers may well appreciate a tiny far more choice below the hood.

Pushing the CX-9 and its contents all over is a two.5-liter turbocharged I4. This compelled-induction 4-cylinder has been tuned for higher responsiveness as an alternative of whopping peak numbers. It provides a Kilimanjaro’s value of minimal- and midrange torque, just what you want in a midsize crossover like this.

Fattening up this section of its powerband is a restricted exhaust outlet that aids raise the velocity of exiting gasses, to spin the turbo a lot quicker. At greater motor rpm, a secondary valve opens to permit higher circulation and assist deliver far more boost. With immediate gas injection onboard, that receives you 250 horsepower and 320 pound-ft of torque if you place ninety three-octane gas in the tank. Low-priced out and fill ‘er up with 87 and you can count on 227 hp and 310 lb-ft.

Bolted to that motor is a 6-pace automatic transmission. In a world wherever eight-, 9- and ten-ratio gearboxes are the norm, only getting 50 percent a dozen gears looks downright aged-fashioned, like churning your very own butter or darning socks. On paper, this transmission may perhaps be outmoded, but in apply it operates very considerably flawlessly, shifting easily and intelligently, dropping ratios as required, although there’s so considerably torque downshifts frequently usually are not vital.

2020 Mazda CX-9

Torque. This motor gives you a lot of it in the reduced rpm range.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

This vehicle’s turbocharged motor is nice sufficient, providing a wallop of minimal- and midrange torque as advertised. Nonetheless, the CX-9 won’t truly feel all that speedy. Acceleration is rapid sufficient, but it however leaves me wanting far more. The automobile looks a step or two behind the pace established by some rivals, and I am not even conversing about outright functionality models, like Ford’s 400-hp Explorer ST.

A further draw back is that this Mazda’s powerplant feels a little bit gritty. The CX-9’s experience high-quality may perhaps be creamy-clean, but its motor vibrates far more than envisioned. It would not shake your dentures out or make your palms go numb, but it unquestionably could be far better isolated.

As for gas economic climate, with standard all-wheel push, this product stickers at twenty miles for every gallon metropolis and 26 highway. Those people scores consequence in a put together score of 23 mpg, which should not blow your funds.

But you know some thing? The foundation value just may well. A bare-bones CX-9 Activity commences at about 35 grand. That makes it countless numbers of dollars far more costly than numerous major competition, although an entry-level Highlander does come close to that and the new Explorer is a little bit far more. 

2020 Mazda CX-9

The Mazda CX-9 feels costly, very likely simply because it is.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The high-class Signature model I examined checked out for a whisker fewer than $48,000, which includes location costs. Is it value that considerably? Well, you have to come to a decision if fashion, a quality interior and fancy functions are far more essential than versatility. This Mazda is certainly an emotional choice in the three-row-crossover section, but it is by no usually means the most realistic.