Mazda first launched the CX-9 in 2016 and the vehicle became an almost instant success.
The CX-9 is aimed at the family SUV 7 seat market and comes in both FWD and AWD variants.
Mazda has now launched an upgrade of their large SUV, something that is becoming a frequent event.
After they launched the car in 2016 a year later they gave it a “significant” upgrade and now a year after that they’ve added some more features.
In this latest incarnation in 2018 they’re concentrating on comfort and safety improvements.
It’s hard to make one of these big SUVs look good. They are fundamentally a two-block design, the first housing the engine, the second the passengers and luggage.
Mazda takes a “less is more” approach. Mazda still puts in a lot of effort to design. At the launch, the chief designer, Shinichi Isayama spoke of the scrupulous approach to crafting elegant flowing lines on the vehicle. He spoke not of designers but of artisans sculpturing the final shape.
It’s hard to see especially on a white vehicle from any reasonable distance. It becomes more obvious when you see reflections of the surrounding environment in the darker coloured models.
A close inspection of the rear of the car shows a slight hatchback look with stylish lights. At the front the most prominent thing is the nose which is quite long and droops down. Mr Isayama says it is intended to give a balance to the whole vehicle.
The first impression in getting in the driver’s seat is that you sit up high, a highly desirable feature for an SUV.
The steering wheel has a good range of controls, is solidly built and is close to the dash board. The dials are well laid out and easy to read in a traditional style. Every model has a heads-up display (Mazda calls it Active Driving Display just to be different).
On launch I drove the range topping Azami LE which had sophisticated leather seats, a stylish layout and some wood panelling that was clearly the real thing.
The infotainment 9″ screen is wide and is a touch screen but not when you are moving. You have to revert to the dial with surrounding buttons down near the gear level. Mazda has yielded to the customer pressure and the car is the second in their range to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The CX-9 like its competitors is classified as a seven-seater. Like most of the competitors I consider it more of a five and two halves configuration. The third row of seats is hard to get to and cramped.
The Mazda CX-9 is well equipped, especially in the Azami trim. Some key features include:-
- 20-inch alloy wheels (bright silver) with 255/50 tyres
- Remote operated power tailgate (open/close)
- Power sliding and tilt glass sunroof
- Leather Front seats with 2-position memory function and 10-way power adjustment (driver)
- Ventilated front seats and Rear seats with heating function (2nd row, outer)
- Premium Bose™ 294 watt amplifier and 12 speakers (including subwoofer)
- Adaptive LED Headlamps
- Windscreen de-icer
- Heated steering wheel
- 360° View Monitor and7-inch TFT LCD multi-information display
- Decorative real wood panels
- Hand-crafted box stitch steering wheel
- Centre console ambient lighting (LED)
- Unique overhead console design
The powertrain has not changed. It still has a 2.5 litre turbo charged four-cylinder petrol engine with 170kW/420Nm. It maintains a six-speed automatic as the only available gearbox.
All models are available in front or all-wheel drive except the top of the range Azami LE which only comes in all-wheel drive. Fuel consumption ranges from 8.8L/100K in the FWD and 10L/100K in the AWD.
On the open road the vehicle is comfortably and quiet. It tours well and overtaking on the flat and downhill is fine but on hills there were times when you were more conscious of it grabbing for a gear and revving more loudly.
As we drove down the back roads of Tasmania it was not unusual for the road conditions to quickly change from sweeping bends to tight twisting sections of road. The car felt as though it came into its own.
In the past, the CX-9 has had a number of safety features on all variants, such as blind spot detection, Smart City Brake Support (Forward/Reverse), rear across alert and a driver alert system.
Now they have added radar cruise control, smart brake support, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and high beam control to all grades.
- Safety across the range
- Solid, competent ride and handling
- Fuel economy
Not So Good Bits
- Third row of seat is cramped
- Power and gear box are not class leading
- No diesel option
It’s not the most powerful petrol engine in it class nor the most modern gearbox, and it is just catching up with features such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto but as an overall package the Mazda CX-9 is a competent, mature vehicle that does what it is meant to do very well.
With good fuel economy and good safety features across the range it is a car that gives you satisfaction and confidence.
The entry level Sport has a recommended retail price of $44,990 to which you have to add on-road costs. The four-wheel drive option is a further $4,000.
The price steps for each grade are:
- Sport to Touring – $6,400
- Touring to GT – $8,000
- GT to Azami – $1,600
- Azami to Azami LE – $5,500 (includes the cost to go to AWD)
This makes the highest spec Azami LE, which is new to the range, $66,490 plus on road cost.
Facts and Figures: 2019 Mazda CX-9 Azami LE
- Engine: 2.5L four-cylinder turbo petrol producing 170kW/420Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $66,490