In the crowded seven-passenger SUV segment, the 2019 Mazda CX-9 is a standout for comfort, quality and value. With seating for nine people, amenities for days and the ability to tow, this SUV has found a sweet spot between amenities and affordability.
The front grille is likely to be divisive. Some people will like the shark-nose look and other people dislike it. In profile, the car’s proportions make it look relatively sleek for an SUV. The high window sills and svelte roofline add to this aesthetic.
This CX-9 is coated in Mazda’s machine gray metallic paint. Chrome body trim and 20-inch alloy wheels are a nice contrast to the dark gray finish. Dual exhaust tips offer a pleasant sense of symmetry to the rear valance.
This CX-9 is outfitted with handsome leather trimmed upholstery. The auburn colored leather doesn’t only cover the seats. Portions of the dash are wrapped in it for an upmarket feel. Mazda got creative with the way the center console opens. It has two doors which open independently, each revealing one half of the console. It’s a neat design, but it’s not terribly practical because there’s always a door inhibiting access to the console.
An eight inch display for navigation and the 12 speaker, Bluetooth ready, Bose audio system. Setting a destination can be a little tedious, but the Mazda infotainment interface is above average and the stereo features Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
The second-row seats have plenty of space for grownups or car seats. The car was optioned up with Mazda’s rear seat entertainment system. This $2,000 dollar option consists of two monitors attached to the backs of the front seats. It seems like a hefty price, but it might just make those long road trips a little more bearable for the kiddos, thus making it more bearable for mom and dad. And every parent knows silence is golden.
Like most SUVs in this segment, the third-row seating is a little cramped. Second and third row seats fold flat to make a spacious cargo area.
A 2.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder provides 227 horsepower to a snappy automatic transmission. In turn, the transmission disperses those horses to each of the four wheels. This system is remarkably smooth and the acceleration will make drivers look forward to interstate on-ramps. The ride is smooth and quiet. The ride is supple but not too rolly in the corners. I found myself doing a double at the speedometer if I was really doing 80 miles an hour.
I didn’t get a chance to test the AWD system to its limits, but I predict it’d be better than not having it when the going gets slippery. Visibility is not great thanks to the wide C-pillars and upswept rear side windows. Thankfully there’s a multitude of sensors and cameras, including a bird’s eye view display, to help negotiate tight spots. As with other Mazda products, the CX-9 is surprisingly fun to drive fast and the level of comfort and ample amenities make it fun to drive at any speed.
This car is outfitted with the optional tow hitch. How much can the CX-9 tow? Well, it’s rated at 3,500 lbs. So it should handle smaller campers and boats without issue. And if anything gets hairy while you’re hauling, Mazda’s trailer stability control system should ensure you get where you’re going with the load intact.
This car with these options will set buyers back $49,780. That’s a considerable sum, and would likely bust the budget for many young families. However, if all-wheel-drive is not a must-have, and if you can live without the second-row entertainment system, a well-optioned GT trim can be had for nearly ten grand less. The base model starts at around $32,000. No matter which CX-9 you buy, they all come with the excellent 2.5 liter turbo.
The CX-9 has the comfort and available options to rival some luxury marques. The price for this loaded CX-9 tops out where the base model Lexus RX begins, and the CX-9 has third row seating. Mazda may not have the luxury brand status, but it would be hard to beat the refined driving characteristics and comfort of this SUV.