This week I bring you the all-new, totally redone 2016 Mazda CX-9, a mid-sized 7-passenger crossover SUV made in Hiroshima, Japan. When I say all new, it truly is. We first saw the CX-9 in 2007 when Ford owned part of Mazda and it was based largely on the Ford Edge chassis. This 2016 represents the first major change in 9 years.
Under the hood, the old V6 has been replaced with a new 2.5-liter Turbo and a 6-speed automatic transmission. I find it interesting that Mazda rates the engine at 227-horses on regular fuel, and 250-horses with premium fuel. It also has an incredible 310 foot-pound of torque. This move by Mazda to this engine was a great move to SkyActiv technology, and you get no turbo lag at all. My test vehicle is all-wheel drive, but it comes standard with front-wheel drive.
Also new for 2016, Mazda shortened the body, but lengthened the wheelbase to give the CX-9 a more aggressive look. It has a bold front grill, a tapered roofline, distinctive lines, dual exhaust, and 20” alloy wheels. While driving around, I had a lot of people remark at how pretty this SUV it is.
For me, the shocker came when I looked inside.
You would think you were in a Lexus or perhaps an Audi. The rich Nappa leather looks terrific, and Mazda put in just the right mix of aluminum and genuine Rosewood. The Rosewood was actually made by a Japanese guitar maker, and is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a vehicle.
The dash layout is bright and colorful, and extremely easy to see and has an active driving display. The dash is actually quite thin and doesn’t overwhelm you. The center console sits up higher than most and houses the round command button that runs the 8” stationary color screen. From the knob, you operate the navigation system, the 12-speaker Bose stereo, Bluetooth, and a suite of apps. When you get used to operating the command button, you can change everything with just a glance, giving you time to watch the road.
Another surprise for me was the back seat legroom, and then again, the room for third-row seat passengers is impressive too. Entry to the third-row seating is easy and simple, even a child can do it.
The luxuriousness of the interior is terrific, but this is the top-of-the-line Signature model.
You start with the CX-9 Sport, which has a base price of $31,520. Next you move up to the Touring, the Grand Touring, and finally the signature. There are no options on this model; it is loaded with everything you can imagine.
At no charge you get: a power moon roof, heated seats, power tailgate, rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, power seat, steering wheel controls, automatic high beam light control, and pushbutton start.
Also for free is the latest in technology like: adaptive cruise control, backup sensors, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, heads-up display, and automatic braking support.
But wait, there’s more. It has lane keep assist that puts you back in your lane if you stray out of it. In a first for me, you can see in the heads-up display if your blind spot monitoring system detects a car on either side of you.
There are many attributes to the new CX-9, but one of the big ones for me is interior quietness.
Mazda cut weight in other places, but added back 50 pounds of materials to cut road noise out of this SUV. This was a huge complaint in the old version, but it is solved now.
Fuel economy is good in this 4300-pound SUV that will tow 3500 pounds. It is rated at 21 city and 27 highway, the front wheel version gets slightly better mileage.
I like all the storage in the CX-9, the third-row seat is easy to fold down, and all the seats fold flat. I am still really blown away by how luxurious the interior is. I am equally impressed with the quality of the paint on this rig, too. It is a new color and process called Machine Gray.
MSRP on this ultra-loaded SUV is $44,015, and frankly, I’ve driven SUVs that were thousands more and not as nice.
In the SUV-crazy United States, the decision on which is the best SUV out there just got more difficult.
Photo Credit: Mazda