Where Did We Drive It?
We made an attempt to go to Kings Canyon National Park in central California. Staff Writer Dan Frio pointed our 2016 Mazda CX-9 north from his home in Orange County for a three-day camping trip with his friend and their three young daughters. They didn't quite make it, however. Packed to the brim, the CX-9 proved too small for the trip, and Dan ended up meeting me in nearby Fresno, California, (where I live) to trade the CX-9 for the long-term Honda Ridgeline I was driving. We'll have a detailed writeup on Dan's experience in an upcoming stand-alone post but excerpts can be found in this monthly update.
Otherwise, our team used the CX-9 in August for typical commuting and the like, adding a total of about 1,600 miles. Overall, the CX-9 continues to be a staff favorite as we approach 20,000 miles on the odometer.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We averaged 20.6 mpg in August, which knocked our lifetime average down a bit. Still, I'm satisfied seeing mileage in the low 20s. It's better than the fuel economy we got from our 2016 Honda Pilot (20.0 mpg) and 2014 Toyota Highlander (19.8 mpg) long-term test vehicles.
Average lifetime mpg: 21.3
EPA mpg rating: 23 combined (21 city/26 highway)
Best fill mpg: 26.7
Best range: 461.4 miles
Current odometer: 19,621 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"I took a drive up into the Sierra Nevadas. Our CX-9's turbocharged engine still pulls strong at 9,600 feet. Try that with the old one's normally aspirated (read: non-turbocharged) V6." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"I'm enjoying our CX-9's ride quality. It's decidedly smooth and composed over the typical ruts and bumps one encounters around town. And this is with our Grand Touring's big 20-inch wheels. Other CX-9s with smaller wheels (and therefore greater tire sidewall) might be even cushier. Factor in the CX-9's tidy handling and you've got an SUV with impressive balance of comfort and control." — Brent Romans, senior editor
"Listening to music on our CX-9's 12-speaker Bose sound system is quite enjoyable. I generally favor hard rock, and this system is up to the task with its impressive bass output. In fact, it can get a little boomy even with the bass output slider set to zero. So, 100 percent accuracy might not be the system's forte. But nonetheless it's got a suitably rich sound and enjoyable staging that you can further adjust with the Bose Centerpoint music processing feature. On the 2017 CX-9, the Bose sound system is optional on the Touring trim level and standard with the Grand Touring and Signature." — Brent Romans
"Mazda's infotainment interface hasn't changed much the past few years, but it continues to be one of the more likable systems around. The console-mounted knob and button array helps reduce driver distraction compared to pure touchscreen-only interfaces." — Brent Romans
"I agree with some comments that my co-worker Josh Sadlier wrote for our June update regarding the CX-9's near-luxury design. Our long-term CX-9 is a loaded-up $43,620 Grand Touring model, so it's understandably nicer than, say, a base CX-9 Sport. But overall I think the CX-9 looks, feels and drives a step above the main competition (Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander)." — Brent Romans
"Check out the CX-9's full-length gas pedal. It feels good against the bottom of my boot and it makes the Mazda feel just a bit more substantial. It also has a good bit of resistance. Because of that, I can almost use it as a dead pedal in stop-and-go traffic." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
"I thought the CX-9 would be big enough for two dads and three daughters on a two-day camping trip. Man, was I wrong. I severely underestimated the CX-9's cargo capacity, having never put it to the test before. I just assumed: 'Three-row crossover — of course it'll work!' I should've known better. The CX-9 offers 38 cubic feet behind the second row. Even on paper, that sounds small for a five-person campout. By comparison, the Honda Pilot offers 46.8 cubic feet; the Toyota Highlander, 42.3 cubic feet; and the new Chevy Traverse, 58.1 cubic feet.
"My friend and I packed up the CX-9 with all of our stuff, though a few things needed to stay behind. The girls had no footroom, as sleeping bags, pillows and blankets took over the floor space. We managed to stash some flat objects in the CX-9's shallow underfloor cargo hold. A folding chair had to ride draped over the front passenger headrest. It was shaping up to be a miserable six-hour drive to camp.
"Enter Editor Brent Romans to the rescue. He met me at a Wal-Mart and we unloaded the CX-9 and put everything into the Ridgeline. In retrospect, there wasn't much else we could've done to manage the load in the CX-9. I just think the CX-9, excellent as it is for shuttling around town, is undergunned to handle camping excursions for a family of five." — Dan Frio, staff writer