Mazda CX-9 — A large sophisticated SUV

By David Finkelstein

The moment you step into the passenger cabin of the 2016 Mazda, 7-passenger CX-9, you'll likely think that Mazda Motors has finally launched a new upscale premium vehicle division. There is a welcomed atmosphere of beauty and detail throughout that just about takes your breath away.

Quickly, you'll notice a higher level of sophistication and craftsmanship, when compared to most other Mazdas on the road. A “busy” center console with details that wrap around from the dashboard to the rear seats also stands out. The endgame is designed to encapsulate passengers in comfort and serenity.

Mazda used over 50-pounds of strategically installed sound deadening materials from the factory. Satin and polished finishes within the cabin further evoke the vehicle's high level of fit and finish. When developing the 2016 Mazda CX-9, Mazda’s marketing, design and engineering teams around the globe, surveyed hundreds of previous and current drivers and their families, as they wanted to develop a clearer vision of how to focus efforts to create a vehicle around the personal values of those driving it.

With a goal of personal aspiration and gratifying self-expression, this was addressed and built into the design to make the product look nice and easy to drive. Additionally, they were seeking a crossover with plenty of storage space to reduce clutter and to afford effortless access to the third row. Not only was this achieved, but even the second row seats can be easily folded forward with little effort.

The dash controls and gauges provide an optimum driving environment with well positioned easy-to-read instruments, minimal driver distractions and good visibility. Engineers went to great lengths to redesign the front seats with thinner seatbacks, yet make them quite comfortable. As a matter of fact, all seating positions demonstrated excellent “cushy” ride comfort.

The added leg room in front as well as with the second row hinges on limo coziness. The heads-up cockpit/driver infotainment screen further raises the bar with a high level of rolling technology including streaming music and hands free calls. Many will welcome internet radio, voice commands with text messaging audio and automatic 911 notification.

First introduced in 2006, CX-9 then, and now challenges the conventional design cues and cumbersome driving experience generally associated with vehicles in its class.

The  CX-9 has captivated the automotive industry on many fronts, including being on the receiving end of numerous accolades such as the North American Truck of the Year. To help outline the vehicles footprint, it's “Soul of Motion” design was used by Mazda designers. Overall, its appearance is elevated with a pronounced front fascia that cascades into crisp lines that flow to the CX-9's rear design treatment with the standard dual exhaust tailpipe outlets. 

The crossover's strength lies in its proportion with its long hood, swept back greenhouse with unobstructed windows, large wheels and short overhangs. This conveys a sense of stability and energy. The smooth body lines start up front with a bold, five-point attractive grille assembly. They're flanked on either side by sleek curves that provide a premium appeal.

The large four doors make entry and exit that much easer for occupants, coupled with a large rear power operated cargo hatch. To help broaden CX-9's level of attractiveness, its manufactured in four trim levels — the entry-level Sport, the volume leader Touring edition, the Grand Touring version,  and the flagship top-end Signature model, which comes standard with all-wheel-drive. The other three build combinations come standard in front-wheel-drive with AWD as an option.

With the new CX-9, engineers sought to include driving dynamics worthy of a Mazda — agile handling, tight steering and a responsive controllable powertrain. To accomplish this they found smart solutions to keep the CX-9’s structure lightweight yet rigid embodying the SKYACTIV fuel savings technology.

Mazda developed a new turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine that delivers instant throttle response, class-leading torque and best-in-class EPA-estimated combined fuel economy at 25 mpg, when equipped with front-wheel drive. As interesting as it may be, Mazda lists two horsepower ratings for this engine! When operated with regular grade fuel, it produces about 225 horsepower and with premium grade gasoline it makes 250 horsepower. All versions come with a six speed automatic transmission.

Eighteen-inch tires and wheels are standard with an optional 20-inch tire and wheel package.

A large suite of advances in safety technologies is also included. With a base warranty of 36 months/36,000 miles bumper to bumper coverage, the starting price for the 2016 Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV is $31,550. If you elect to go with the AWD powertrain chassis, you'll need to add an additional $1,800.