There are not that many three-row crossovers in the market that blends driving fun with a utility like Mazda does with the CX-9. Mazda has hooked up the CX-9 with an enabling chassis as well as a responsive steering that helps add a dose of fun in a market segment that is largely devoid of fun-filled driving experience. The exterior of the 2018 Mazda CX-9 is also attractive while the cabin is also well laid out to ensure the entire family is comfortable even during long drives. However, the CX-9 scores dismally in terms of cargo capacity as well as space for third-row passengers. Mazda has tweaked the crossover to strengthen its position in the market even though only a year has elapsed since this 2nd-generation version was unveiled.
2018 Mazda CX-9 Exterior
The CX-9 only underwent a comprehensive revamp last year when the current second generation of the model launched. Therefore, for the 2018 model year, the exterior has received only minor tweaks. The good thing about the CX-9 exterior is that it has a simple yet elegant design.
The exterior is characterized by a sharply angled grille and bumper, an elongated hood while the windshield is steeply raked. The top Grand Touring and Signature trims are set apart by chrome accenting on their side profiles and ride on 20-inch wheels, unlike lower trims which ride on 18-inch wheels. Auto-power folding side mirrors are now standard options across all the trims. In addition, like the CX-5, Mazda has hooked up the CX-9 with the Soul Red Crystal Metallic exterior paintwork.
Compared to most models in this segment, the interior of the CX-9 is nice. To make it even better, Mazda has made some improvements for 2018. The cabin is characterized by soft-touch plastics with excellent graining as well as brushed aluminum. The top trim even features genuine rosewood. Heated front seats and power adjustments for the driver’s seat are now optional for the Sport trim while for the Touring trim; the front passenger seat is power adjustable and has lumbar support while the driver’s seat has a tilt function. The Grand Touring trim adds a heated steering wheel as well as heated rear seats. The automaker has also made some adjustments to the second-row seats to enhance comfort and easier access to the third row.
As for the infotainment system, the crossover has an intuitive unit. On the Sport trim, the infotainment system is accessed via 7.0-inch screen while other trims come with a larger, 8.0-inch unit. Although this system can be controlled via the screen, the automaker also offers a rotary knob as well as redundant buttons fitted close to the shifter on the center console. The system can also be managed via voice commands. HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and onboard internet are offered as standard features.
The cargo space is however limited behind the third-row seats but can be expanded by folding second- and third-row seats.
Mazda has also made some upgrades to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels in the cabin.
For improved safety, Mazda offers the “Smart City Brake Support” system as standard; this is a low-speed automatic emergency braking function. The Grand Touring and Signature trims offer a full-speed protection feature. For 2018, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring are now standard. These join other standard features including a lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams as well as rain-sensing wipers.
Mazda has also introduced the G-Vectoring Control system as standard across the trims. This system helps to reduce engine torque faintly during cornering to enhance cornering stability.
Engine and performance
All Mazda CX-9 models are powered by a turbocharged 2.5 L, 4-cylinder engine that produces 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. However, the engine can also produce 250 hp when using 93-octane. Front-wheel drive is standard for all models with an option for All-wheel drive. Channeling power to the wheels is a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The mill is EPA rated at 22 mpg and 28 mpg on city and highway drives respectively with Front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city and 26 mpg on highway drives respectively with AWD.
When well equipped, the CX-9 can tow 3,500 lbs which however ranks lower than its rivals such as the Pilot at 5000 lbs and Dodge Durango at 7400 lbs. The Durango, however, uses a V8 mill.
Price and release date
The base Sport trim of the 2018 Mazda CX-9 carries an MSRP of $33,070. For the Touring trim, buyers will need $35,900 while the Grand Touring trim starts at $41,410. Those who opt for AWD will spend an extra $1,800 for all trims except the Signature trim. The range-topping Signature trims which features AWD as standard has a price tag of $45,255. Mazda started delivering the CX-9 onto its dealerships last month (September).